A chiropractor prevents and treats disease as well as promotes the health and well-being of the public. They are required to adhere to extensive and strict educational requirements and standards to become registered healthcare professionals. Chiropractors, or doctor of chiropractic, use manual manipulations and natural healing methods to treat a wide range of maladies in patients, in particular those that affect the musculoskeletal system.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “chiropractic is based on the principle that misalignments of the spinal joints interfere with the nervous system and can decrease resistance to disease and many different conditions of diminished health.” The BLS also states that in addition to manual manipulations, chiropractors provide patients with treatment that combines exercise, diet, and other lifestyle methods.
Education and Training for Chiropractors
Typically, chiropractors study and graduate from an accredited and stellar chiropractic school. Chiropractors aren’t awarded a DO or MD degree from a medical school, but earn a Doctor or Chiropractic, or DC, degree. At present, chiropractic candidates are not required to have a bachelor’s degree before they enter chiropractic school.
However, many students do complete a bachelor’s program and it is required for candidates to have a minimum of 90 semester hours of undergraduate coursework for acceptance into a chiropractic program. So that is about 75% of a bachelor’s degree. You may as well complete your degree since you are already 75% there and most chiropractors do.
Typically, a chiropractic course is a total of 4 years, but there are programs that vary in length. The emphasis of the classroom coursework, like numerous other careers in the field of health, entails science courses such as anatomy, biology, physiology, pathology, and biochemistry. In addition to classroom requirements, clinical and lab training are required components of the chiropractic education. According to the BLS, 16 accredited chiropractic programs exist across the nation.
Licensure is required nationally. It can be obtained by passing a four-part test that is conducted by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. As with most health careers, it is required to have continuing medical education, or CME, ensure that licensure is kept current. In some state boards, additional testing is required, but most recognize the national test.
Candidates typically take National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exams before they graduate from chiropractic school. The scores of the exams are made available to licensing authorities that are both within and outside the United States. All 50 states in the US either require or accept chiropractic candidates to pass Parts I, II, III, and IV of NBCE exams for licensure.
According to the BLS, the outlook for chiropractors is projected to increase at a much faster rate than average, with a growth of about 17% predicted to happen between 2014 and 2024. As of 2014, there are about 45,200 practicing chiropractors in the United States and about 1 in 3 of those is self-employed in a solo practice.
The demand for chiropractors is also impacted by the extent to which chiropractic care is covered by insurance companies. Also contributing to an increase in demand is the aging population in the US. According to the BLS’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, older adults have an increased likelihood of having joint and neuro-musculoskeletal problems and they are seeking treatment for these conditions at a more frequent rate as they lead more active and longer lives.
Not only that, athletes and active people need a chiropractor if they hurt. For people who are not active, they will need someone else to help them out at some point in their lives.
Income in the Chiropractic Field
The BLS states that as of 2015, the median income for salaried chiropractors is $64,440. According to a survey of BLS-cited chiropractors, the average or mean income for doctors of chiropractic is $94,454 and the top 10% of these healthcare professionals earn upwards of $140,000. Approximately 25% of them are employed on a part-time basis, which means that their income would be lower than average, which is based on those that work full time.
Required Skills and Work Environment
It is often required for chiropractors to stand for long periods of time. This requires them to be in good physical condition. Most work in well-lit, clean, and comfortable offices or physical rehab environments. You will have to work with other people and be an excellent communicator. You will have to be comfortable in terms being able to be around people and help them with their bodies if there is something wrong. You will have to put your hands on them and be able to build that trust with them.
Doctors of chiropractic should enjoy working with people, and have strong interpersonal and communication skills. As with other professions in the health field, the chiropractic profession requires strong science and math skills as well.
Chiropractors should have the ability to collect and analyze data and information, assess a situation and develop a plan of action as well as treatment for the patient’s condition. Then, they must have the ability to evaluate the patient’s progress and make any adjustments accordingly.
If you are interested in a career in the field of being a chiropractor, you may also be interested in careers as a physiatrist, physical therapist, massage therapist, athletic trainer, or podiatrist. These careers have some similarities in educational requirements and job responsibilities. The job outlook for the future is promising and the income is attractive. If you want a career in the healthcare industry without having to go to medical school, becoming a chiropractor may be the right option for you.