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Becoming a Chiropractor: Job Info & Career Requirements

See what chiropractors do, and learn the steps you can take to become one. Find out about required education and skills. Get information about career and earning prospects below.

Career Definition for a Chiropractor

Chiropractors take a holistic view of good health, with a particular focus on the proper alignment of the musculoskeletal system. They study how deficiencies in these areas can affect a person's overall health and wellness. Chiropractors see patients in an office setting, taking medical histories and ordering X-rays as needed. Chiropractors are known for manipulating the spine with their hands, providing relief from back, neck and joint pain without drugs or surgery. The majority of chiropractors, about 82%, are male according to the American Chiropractic Association (www.acatoday.org).

Required Education Bachelor's or associate's degree
Necessary Skills Physical strength and stamina, interpersonal skills, management, collaboration, manual dexterity, business acumen
Median Salary (2015)* $64,440
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 17%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Chiropractors may earn an associate or bachelor's degree before attending chiropractic school, although a bachelor's degree is preferred. The American Chiropractic Association indicates that chiropractors earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree after four years or more of graduate study (www.acatoday.org). Chiropractors study anatomy, chemistry, physiology and philosophy. They gain the techniques of chiropractic medicine, obtain clinical practice and learn how to manage a chiropractic practice.

Licensing Requirements

According to the American Chiropractic Association, after completion of a Doctor of Chiropractic degree program, graduates take state and national exams to complete their licensing requirements (www.acatoday.org). All states require that chiropractors hold licenses; the requirements vary by state.

Skills Required

Chiropractors require good health and stamina themselves, because being a chiropractor means standing for much of the workday. Chiropractors need good observation skills, interpersonal skills, management skills, collaborative skills when their diagnosis warrants referral to another physician, manual dexterity and business acumen.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reports that chiropractors are expected to see employment opportunities grow by 17% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also published the median annual salary of chiropractors as $64,440 in May 2015. While more chiropractors are employed in California, Texas, and Florida than other states, chiropractors working in Alaska, New Jersey, and Delaware make the most money, according to BLS statistics published in May 2015.

Alternative Career Options

Some skills necessary to become a chiropractor will help you prepare for jobs in other areas.

Athletic Trainer

The duties performed by an athletic trainer are similar to those of a chiropractor. Athletic trainers typically help athletes and others avoid bone- and muscle-related injury; they also help injured patients through rehabilitative care. Depending on where they work - such as with a sports team or for a college or university - athletic trainers may also be on hand to deliver first aid as needed.

This career typically requires at least a bachelor's degree in the field. Earning a master's degree is common. States have varying certification and licensing requirements; completing a Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education-accredited degree program is required before qualifying to take the professional certification exam.

The BLS reports that athletic trainers can expect employment growth of 21% from 2014-2024. The median annual salary for athletic trainers was $44,670 in 2015, per the BLS.

Massage Therapist

Massage therapists use their hands to directly care for patients' muscles, whether they're injured, overworked or tense due to stress. They may work for spas, hospitals, and chiropractors, or they may be self-employed. Aspiring massage therapists typically complete a post-secondary education program; state licensing and certification requirements are common but can vary from state to state. Jobs for massage therapists are predicted to increase 22% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. Massage therapists' median annual salary was $38,040 in 2015, reported the BLS.


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