How to Become a Chiropractor
Chiropractors must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and get a state license.
Chiropractors typically need a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. Completing a D.C. program typically takes about 4 years, in addition to at least 3 years of undergraduate study. Every state requires chiropractors to be licensed.
Chiropractors must have a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree from an accredited chiropractic college. A D.C. degree usually takes years to complete. Chiropractic colleges are accredited by The Council on Chiropractic Education.
Admission to D.C. programs requires at least 3 years of undergraduate education, although applicants commonly have a bachelor’s degree. Typical bachelor’s degrees for prospective D.C. students include biology, healthcare and related fields, or kinesiology, exercise physiology, or other subjects focusing on physical movement. Chiropractic programs generally require applicants to have completed coursework in sciences such as physics, chemistry, and biology, as well as general education studies.
A D.C. program includes coursework in anatomy, physiology, biology, and similar subjects. Courses in business management, such as marketing and finance, also may be included. Chiropractic students gain supervised clinical experience in areas such as diagnosis, spinal assessment, and adjustment techniques. D.C. programs may offer a dual-degree option, in which students earn either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in another field while completing their D.C.
Some chiropractors complete postgraduate programs that lead to diplomate credentials. These programs provide additional training in specialty areas, such as orthopedics, acupuncture, and pediatrics.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All states require chiropractors to be licensed, although requirements vary by state. At a minimum, all require the completion of an accredited Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree program and passing all four parts of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam. States also may require candidates to pass a background check and state-specific law exams, called jurisprudence exams.
All states require practicing chiropractors to earn a specified number of hours of continuing education credits to maintain a chiropractic license. Contact your state’s board of chiropractic examiners or health department for more specific information about licensure.
Communication skills. Chiropractors must listen to patients and explain procedures clearly both orally and in written reports.
Decision-making skills. Chiropractors must evaluate each patient’s needs and recommend treatment based on those needs. They must also decide when to refer patients to other healthcare professionals.
Detail oriented. Chiropractors must pay attention when diagnosing and treating patients to avoid mistakes that could harm them.
Dexterity. Chiropractors must have good coordination when performing manual adjustments to a patient's spine and other joints.
Empathy. Chiropractors often care for people who are in pain. They must be understanding and sympathetic to their patients’ problems and needs.
Interpersonal skills. Chiropractors must be personable in order to put patients at ease and expand their practice.