How to Become a Chiropractor: Steps to Take from High School

Are chiropractors doctors? They don’t have MDs, but they do have doctorates — and they play a big role in the healthcare world.

 

Despite being more misunderstood than some other healthcare professionals, chiropractors are important, licensed providers who used their hands to perform adjustments for patients. Is this the right role for you? Keep reading to find out more about the profession.

 

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

 

Chiropractors specialize in neuromuscular disorders, performing spinal adjustments to relieve and reduce pain. Part of their work includes educating patients about their health and suggesting ways to improve their wellness.

 

Some of the disorders and conditions they treat include:

 

  • Arthritic pain
  • Back pain
  • Car injuries
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Joint pain
  • Neck pain
  • Sciatica
  • Sports injuries

 

In addition to performing manual adjustments, chiropractors work with patients to develop treatment plans, suggesting ways to improve your quality of life through exercise, diet, massage therapy, and other treatments. These can either be administered by a qualified healthcare provider or self-administered.

 

Some chiropractors work in private practice, while some partner with other practitioners or work in additional settings. 

 

How Much Do Chiropractors Make?

 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chiropractors make $70,340 per year on average. Your pay will vary greatly according to experience, location, and other factors. 

 

How to Become a Chiropractor: Steps to Take from High School

 

High School

 

Take a well-rounded curriculum focused on science and communication.

 

To demonstrate your interest in chiropractic early on, take plenty of upper-level science courses in high school, such as AP courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. Because chiropractors must be strong communicators, you should also take English, writing, and communication courses. 

 

Build leadership and volunteering experience.

 

Activities like working in a community center, tutoring, student government, and volunteering in a healthcare-related facility will help you attain many of the skills you’ll need, including leadership, problem-solving, and communication.

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College

 

Earn a bachelor’s degree.

 

You’re unlikely to find an undergraduate chiropractic program. Instead, many future chiropractors major in disciplines like biology, exercise science, kinesiology, or health science. Most chiropractic programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission, although some may accept three years of undergraduate education. 

 

Fulfill requirements for entry into chiropractic school.

 

Make sure you complete the requirements for chiropractic school admission, which include a certain number of courses in life and physical sciences (usually 24 credit hours or so, and half with labs). Expect to take anatomy and physiology, mathematics, chemistry, biology and other STEM courses. You may also be expected to have a well-rounded education and take classes in the humanities, social sciences, and communication and languages. 

 

Some programs may require the GRE or SAT/ACT scores, but this is less common.

 

Check with The Council on Chiropractic Education and specific chiropractic school to ensure that you’re on track to fulfill the necessary requirements.

 

Gain experience.

 

Chiropractic schools will expect you to have shadowed practicing professionals as an undergraduate. Not only will this demonstrate your interest in the field, but it will also help you gain knowledge needed for becoming a chiropractor. 

 

Chiropractic School

 

Earn a D.C.

 

A Doctor of Chiropractic program includes clinical training, labwork, and coursework in anatomy, diagnostic skills, neuroscience, and more.

 

Become licensed.

 

To practice, you’ll also need to become licensed. This involves passing four exams from the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners or NBCE, two of which are completed during your D.C. program. You’ll complete the final in the series of examinations after your graduate, and then you’ll apply for a license from the state in which you intend to practice. Some states have additional requirements for chiropractic licensure.

 

Specialize.

 

You don’t have to specialize as a chiropractor, but you’ll increase your expertise and be more appealing (and therefore more competitive in the field) if you choose to. Examples of specialties include pediatrics, acupuncture, and sports. Certifications in specialties typically require additional education and training.

 

Do you want to become a chiropractor? If so, you should start your education at a college where you can gain a solid grounding in the sciences and other relevant coursework. Find out how competitive you are for top U.S. colleges using CollegeVine’s Chancing Engine. It’s free to sign up!


Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.

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