How to Become a Chiropractor

November 20, 2023


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 10/10/23

Thinking about pursuing a career as a chiropractor? What do chiropractors do? How much do they make? How long does it take to become licensed? Keep reading if you want to know everything about how to become a chiropractor.

Though you do not have to go to medical school, becoming a chiropractor is not an easy feat; you still need to attend chiropractic college and pass licensing exams. This article will go through what a chiropractor does, how to become a chiropractor, and what type of salary to expect when you finally finish your goal. 

Keep reading to find out how to become a chiropractor.

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What Does a Chiropractor Do?

A chiropractor is a medical professional who manipulates the body through spinal and joint adjustments. A chiropractor will perform therapeutic treatments by manipulating your body with their hands or specialized equipment. 

Seeing a chiropractor can increase your range of motion and help reduce pain and mobility issues in your body. Treatments from a chiropractor should work alongside anything done by a medical doctor, though you might want to check with your doctor before seeing a chiropractor.

The most common reasons for a chiropractic adjustment include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches

Some treatments that a chiropractor may offer include:

  • Adjustments: which reduce pain through realigning joints
  • Soft-tissue therapy: by working on the connective tissue mobility can increase.
  • Exercises and stretches: which help restore joint stability and mobility.
  • Joint bracing/taping (Kinesio taping): to help support sprained joints.
  • Referrals to integrative medicine experts: to help maintain a healthy body.

Now that you know what chiropractors do, let’s take a look at how you can become a chiropractor.

Steps to Become a Chiropractor

If you are looking to become a chiropractor, you will need to do a few things before attending chiropractic school. The following are the four steps on how to become a chiropractor.

Step One: Complete Three to Four Years of Undergraduate Studies

According to the Association of Chiropractic Colleges, current entrance requirements for a doctor of chiropractic degree are as follows:

  • Completed at least three academic years or 90 semester hours of an undergraduate degree and received no less than a 3.0 GPA
  • Out of the 90 semester hours, you must have 24 hours in life sciences. Half of your life science courses must have a lab component. 
  • Have a wide variety of other courses in the humanities and social sciences.

Once you’ve completed these requirements, you are able to apply to chiropractic school.

Step Two: Attend a Chiropractic School

Once you’ve finished your bachelor’s degree requirements, the second step is to attend chiropractic school. There, you will learn everything you need to get a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, including anatomy, physiology, neurology, and other human biology courses.

You will also take several practical courses, so you can learn different techniques used to help heal the body. It is very important to stay in good academic standing throughout your chiropractic college career; this knowledge is needed for the next step, your licensing exam.

Step Three: Obtain your Chiropractic License

Regardless of where you work, you will need to pass a licensing exam to become a chiropractor. To obtain this license, you will have to pass a certification exam known as the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE).

This test contains four parts and will be taken at various times throughout your schooling. The NBCE will examine your scientific knowledge of the body and your practical skills as a future chiropractor.

Step Four: Continuing Education

To maintain your license as a Doctor of Chiropractic, you need to take continuing education courses. Some people will decide to do a specialty program such as sports rehabilitation or pediatric chiropractic care.

Whether you do a specialty program or take courses in different chiropractic care techniques is completely up to the individual. However, you should know that there is a requirement for further education to keep your license.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Chiropractor?

Becoming a chiropractor is a long process. You will have to start by taking at least three years of a bachelor’s degree before applying to chiropractic school.

Once you’ve finished your undergraduate degree, you can apply to chiropractic school, which will take another four years. In total, you will be in school for at least seven years  to become a chiropractor.

If you choose to specialize, schooling can take even longer. Though the length of these programs varies, you should expect at least another year of training.

Also, remember that chiropractors are required to take continuing education courses to keep their registration. This could be in the form of a course or simply attending a conference. Either way, you should be assuming that you will constantly be learning when you enter the chiropractic profession.

Chiropractor Salary

A chiropractor’s salary can vary depending on experience. When first starting out in practice, a chiropractor might not charge as much as when they have multiple specialties and years of training and practice under their belt. 

Another aspect that can affect a chiropractor’s salary is location. If a chiropractor lives in a small town, they may not be able to charge as much for their services as the people in the town may not be able to afford their care if the price is too high. 

On the other hand, a Chiropractor in New York City, for example, can charge more as the price of living is higher, and their patients are more likely to be able to spend more on their chiropractic care. 

According to US News, the median salary for a chiropractor in 2021 was $75,000 per year. They also ranked chiropractors 18th in Best Health Care Jobs, meaning if you choose chiropractic medicine as a career, you will likely be very happy.   

FAQs: How to Become a Chiropractor

Here are a few of the top questions asked when looking into becoming a chiropractor.

1. Is Being a Chiropractor Worth It?

If you have a passion for helping people and love chiropractic medicine, then you can have a very fulfilling career. There is a lot of work that goes into becoming a chiropractor, but the salary definitely makes the amount of school worth it.

2. Is It Hard to Learn Chiropractic?

Chiropractic school can be very challenging with a lot of intense science courses. You also have to learn a lot about the different techniques that are used, which can also be challenging. That being said, if you excel at science, you will find chiropractic school easier than those without a science background.

3. What is The Education Required For a Chiropractor?

In order to become a chiropractor, you must first complete three to four years of a bachelor’s degree program. Once you’ve done that, you will have to attend another four years of chiropractic school. 

As is expected with any medical profession, there are a lot of science courses and hands-on courses that are required. Though it’s not required, another seven to eight years can be added to your total if you choose to specialize.

Final Thoughts

Going to chiropractic school can be very challenging, but once completed, you will be rewarded with a fulfilling career that is easy to love. There are a lot of steps to becoming a chiropractor, but if you like the idea of caring for people, this might be the career for you.

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