Chiropractic Physician: Job Description & Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a chiropractic physician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education, job duties and state licensure requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

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A career as a chiropractic physician requires formal education. Learn about what this job entails, how much a chiropractic physician can expect to earn, and where job opportunities can be found by these professionals.

Essential Information

Chiropractic physicians assist patients by treating and diagnosing problems related to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Chiropractic doctors must complete an undergraduate degree program followed by a 4-year chiropractic educational program. Before being permitted to practice, chiropractors must earn a state license.

Required Education Chiropractic doctoral program
Other Requirements State licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 17%*
Median Salary (2015) $64,440*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Chiropractic Physician

Job Description and Duties

Chiropractic physicians, more commonly known as chiropractors, are doctors who help patients recover and feel less pain through the realignment of spinal joints. Patients seeking alternative methods of treatment, nonsurgical treatment options and drugless treatment options turn toward chiropractic physicians for assistance in dealing with physical pain. A chiropractic physician meets with clients and helps examine factors like diet, sleep patterns, genetics and exercise to create suitable treatment options for them. Specialization options are available for chiropractic physicians, including nutrition, internal disorders, sports injuries, pediatrics and neurology.

Chiropractic physicians have several opportunities for employment. Some open up their own practices and acquire their own clients. Others can purchase an existing practice and keep the regular clients of the previous owner. New chiropractic physicians just starting out tend to enter into a partnership with an established chiropractor or acquire a position with a health care facility or a group practice. The average work week for a chiropractic physician can vary; some keep to the regular 40-hour work week, while others set hours that are most convenient for them or their clients.

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Education Requirements

Before applying to chiropractic school, a student acquires an undergraduate education. The minimum amount of semester hours needed is 90, although many students simply attain their bachelor's degree before applying to chiropractic school. Courses in social sciences, chemistry, humanities, physics, psychology, biology and English are crucial for students interested in becoming chiropractic physicians. Ideally, a student tries to find a school offering a pre-chiropractic bachelor's degree program.

After acquiring the minimum amount of undergraduate education, a student can apply at a chiropractic school. The Council on Chiropractic Education accredited 15 chiropractic educational programs as of 2013. These Doctor of Chiropractic programs last four years and emphasize laboratory work alongside classroom instruction. The coursework a student is expected to complete includes physiology, microbiology, anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, nutrition, public health and physiotherapy.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all states regulate chiropractic practice, meaning that chiropractic physicians must possess a state license. Licensure requires a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and a passing score on the state examination. Additional licensure requirements vary by state, and chiropractic physicians can only practice in the state in which they hold a license. In some situations a state may accept another state's license by reciprocity and permit the individual to practice chiropractic.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The BLS anticipates that jobs for chiropractic physicians will grow by 17% from 2014-2024, mainly due to increased demand for chiropractic services by individuals looking for alternatives to surgery and/or medication. The BLS noted that in May, 2015, the median annual salary of chiropractors was $64,440.

A career as a chiropractic physician involves helping people manage or treat pain through joint alignment. First, an undergraduate degree is necessary, and then completion of a chiropractic degree program. Chiropractors work independently or work as employees in chiropractic practices.

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