Everything You Need to Know
to Become a Chiropractor
Chiropractic School & Career Guide
Among the fastest growing holistic and natural health degree professions, chiropractic focuses on the relationship between the spinal column and the nervous system. When we suffer interference or misalignment in these systems, we make ourselves more susceptible to disease. We may show symptoms such as chronic pain, headaches and body aches—the root cause of which chiropractors can help to relieve through the manipulation of those areas of the spine that have fallen out of alignment.
The chiropractic profession has become more popular than ever before with the publics' interest in holistic health care and alternative medicine, making today an excellent time to attend chiropractic school. Learn more about chiropractor careers, education, professional licensure and salaries by reading the information below.
In general, chiropractic schools recommend that students complete a 4-year bachelor's degree prior to starting their chiropractic education. Some chiropractic colleges in the United States now offer bachelor's degree programs for students who know early on that they want to pursue a career in chiropractic medicine.
Earning your Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree typically involves a minimum of 4,200 hours of combined classroom, laboratory and clinical experience, and takes an average of four years to complete. The first two years generally emphasize classroom and lab work in anatomy, physiology, pathology and other sciences. During the last two years, chiropractic colleges focus on clinical experience, providing students with the opportunity to perform spinal adjustments and diagnoses.
Tuition at chiropractic schools can range from $11,000 to $20,000, depending on the program. Some schools run year round, while others run nine months of the year, which accounts for the wide variation in tuition costs.
Professional Chiropractic Licensure
Most states will grant licenses to chiropractors who have completed a 2- or 4-year undergraduate chiropractic school program, earned their DC degree from an accredited chiropractic college, and passed state and national board exams. An increasing number of states have started to require a four-year undergraduate degree. You should thoroughly research your state's chiropractic licensure requirements prior to starting your chiropractic education.
Nearly all states have established continuing education requirements for chiropractors to maintain their licensure, and DCs can find classes that meet these requirements at accredited chiropractic colleges and through chiropractic associations. Some chiropractic education programs and associations also offer postdoctoral training in areas such as orthopedics, pediatrics, family practice, nutrition and neurology that can lead toward clinical specialist status through the International Chiropractors Association.
Chiropractor Licensure Prerequisites
It is recommended that students have earned a baccalaureate degree in the arts or sciences from an accredited college or university, completed with minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.50 on a 4.00 scale. Most chiropractic schools require applicants to have at least 60 semester hours in English, the social sciences or humanities, organic and inorganic chemistry, biology, physics and psychology as part of their undergraduate studies. Check with the chiropractor school of your choice to make sure that you have enough hours in each discipline. Several American chiropractic colleges now offer a BS degree for students interested in career in chiropractic medicine.
States That Require Both a Bachelor's Degree
and a DC Degree to Practice Chiropractic
Florida, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and the U.S. Virgin Islands all require DCs to have a bachelor's degree as well as the chiropractic degree. Most chiropractic colleges now recommend getting a bachelor's degree either before or concurrently with the DC degree.
Requirements to Study Chiropractic Medicine in Canada
The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College has the same prerequisite as most of the American colleges (it's also accredited by the same organization, the CCE). They require three years of undergraduate work including a set number of hours in the sciences, but recommend that students get a BA or BS degree before entering.
Graduating From a Canadian Chiropractic
School and Practicing in the U.S. Without CCE Accreditation
CMCC, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, had a reciprocal accreditation agreement with the CCE so their students could meet U.S. requirements. Obviously, if practicing in the U.S. is the your prime concern, ask the career counselor at the college how many graduates are licensed in the United States and ask if you can contact any of these graduates.
Due to the large number of chiropractic colleges in the U.S., it might be easier to go to a chiropractic college in the country where you intend to practice. If you lack the undergraduate credits necessary to enter a U.S. chiropractic college, you may be able to enter as a BS candidate at the college (not all schools offer undergraduate degrees) and then enter the DC program once the undergraduate credits are satisfied. The U.S. programs also qualify for a variety of federal and state aid programs, which may make attending a U.S. chiropractic school more affordable than you thought.
The majority of chiropractors in the United States work in independent practices, which, by nature, means that as their practice grows, so do their earnings. According to Salary.com, average salaries for chiropractors range from $68,791 to $103,218 annually, with the lowest 10 percent earning $52,885 per year, and the top 10 percent making over $117,000 per year.
In general, self-employed chiropractors make a higher income than salaried ones. Geographic location plus the chiropractor's individual qualities, level of experience and accomplishments also influence earnings.
Chiropractor Career Outlook
The public's increasing demand for alternative health care continues to drive the high rate of job growth that the chiropractic profession enjoys. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for chiropractors will increase by 14 percent through 2016. As a testament to their practice, the majority of chiropractors remain in their profession until retirement.
Exceptional job growth, lifelong learning opportunities and the chance to help people heal every day—chiropractic medicine promises a long-term career filled with exceptional professional and personal rewards. Earning your credentials and building your chiropractic practice will take dedication and commitment, but if the statistics hold true, you will never have to look for another job again.
Find a Chiropractic School in Your Area
CareerOverview.com, 2008; Salary.com, 2009
Search our directory and find more: Massage Therapy Schools, Acupuncture, Chiropractic, and more.