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Equine Chiropractor: Schools, Certification & Salary

Jan 06, 2021

Equine Chiropractor: Job Description

Equine chiropractors treat various ailments in horses by manipulating the animal's spine. Chiropractic adjustment in horses works similarly to humans and realignment and treatment can be used to relieve pain or tension. This is considered an alternative form of treatment, and several schools offer animal chiropractic programs. Practitioners can be veterinarians, chiropractors, or vet techs with training in veterinary massage practices as long as they possess an equine chiropractic certification. An equine chiropractor's salary will vary based on experience, training (human vs animal only), and education level. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide a salary specifically for equine chiropractors, but it does state that in 2019, chiropractors earned a mean salary of $85,010, veterinary technicians earned $36,670, and veterinarians earned $104,820.

Equine Chiropractor: Essential Information

Individuals wishing to pursue training in equine chiropractic have a number of options available to them depending upon their end goals. They can be found in many professions, including veterinary medicine and equine therapy. The job outlook for equine chiropractors is increasingly brighter as animal owners lend credibility to alternative techniques for healing. Equine chiropractors may be chiropractors or licensed veterinarians, while others may simply have training and certification in veterinary massage, therapy or veterinary spinal manipulation.

Required Education Varies from training in veterinary massage and therapy to a Doctor of Chiropractic or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program
Certification/Licensure Certification by the Animal Chiropractic Certification Commission
Additional Requirements Non-veterinarians must have obtained written consent from a veterinarian prior to performing procedures on animals
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 4% for chiropractors, 16% for veterinary techs, 16% for veterinarians
Average Salary (2019)* $85,010 annually for chiropractors, $36,670 for veterinary techs, $104,820 for veterinarians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can An Equine Chiropractor Treat?

An equine chiropractor may be able to treat a wide range of injuries or pain in a horse. This may occur as a result of general weakness, athletic activities such as racing or jumping, general riding, or other factors. This treatment can be used to:

  • treat pain
  • fix curvature of the spine and general hunching
  • treat and alleviate general weakness
  • reduce arthritis pain
  • treat disk herniation
  • allow for increased recovery from surgery

Equine Chiropractor: Skills

There are a number of skills that an equine chiropractor must possess in order to be successful in their career. These skills include:

  • a calm demeanor - one must be able to soothe the animals that one is working with to prevent injury to oneself and the animal
  • manual dexterity - one must be able to work the spine and muscles to remove tension and properly align the spine
  • safe handling techniques - one must be able to prevent injury to all parties during treatment
  • decision making skills - one must be able to quickly diagnose and go through with treatment efficiently; one must also be able to make difficult decisions when caring for a horse

Equine Chiropractor: Schools

The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) approves several schools with animal chiropractic training programs. These equine chiropractic schools will prepare students for a career as an animal chiropractor, and provide all the necessary skills and knowledge required for success in this career. Those who successfully complete these programs can go on to sit for the certification exams, overseen by the Animal Chiropractic Certification Commission (ACCC), which is a division of the AVCA. This type of certification is usually earned by a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) or a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).

Other types of certifications may be earned via training programs as well. Some schools offer training and certification programs in veterinary massage, rehabilitation therapy and veterinary spinal manipulation. Students can also look to schools that offer human chiropractic training to see if they offer an animal-based variant of the education.

ACVA Certification Length

An ACVA certification lasts for three years. This certification must be renewed before the 31st of December in the third year when it expires. In order to renew this certification, one must complete 30 ACVA approved education hours. Additionally, an applicant must pass both a practical and written test to prove that one is still able to properly treat animals and that no knowledge has been lost. This process also ensures that all candidates are up to date in the requirements and procedures of this job and are not using outdated techniques or information. If one's certification expires, one must complete an integration course and re-sit the written exam portion.

Equine Chiropractor: DC or DVM Licensure

Equine chiropractors can be found in a large variety of occupations. Some, as licensed D.C.s, practice human chiropractic and do occasional animal work on the side. Others are veterinarians who wish to extend their range of services offered into equine or animal homeopathy. Still others hold neither DVM or D.C. licensure and work entirely as equine therapists, using a combination of massage and chiropractic techniques. However, non-veterinarians must have direct written consent from a veterinarian before performing such procedures on an animal. This is due to the fact that human chiropractors and non-chiropractic equine therapists may not recognize or understand diseases and medical conditions in horses.

Equine Chiropractor: Salary

Very few sources indicate job prospects for equine chiropractors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 16% (the average for all occupations) increase in employment from 2019 to 2029 for veterinarians, 16% for veterinary technicians and technologists and 4% over the same time frame for all chiropractors. Positions in specifically equine chiropractic may increase as a result of both careers growing so rapidly. As with job prospects, there are few sources to find an equine chiropractor salary.

As of May 2019, the BLS reported average annual salaries of $36,670 for veterinary techs, $104,820 for veterinarians and $85,010 for chiropractors.

According to the Equine Post, an online resource for horse owners and enthusiasts, finding employment is simply a matter of finding the right geographic location to work in. As animal owners become increasingly more concerned about giving their pets the finest care, they will call upon equine chiropractors and those practicing alternative methods for healing and behavioral improvement.

Equine chiropractors are usually trained as veterinarians, vet technicians, or chiropractors. Depending on their background and training, they work with veterinarians to supplement care for horses using the alternative method of spinal manipulation. Jobs are projected to increase in all these fields through 2029.

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