Learn how you can prepare for a career in chiropractic treatments, a growing field that allows you to help people feel better naturally. Read on to see what kind of education and training this job requires. See career prospects and the earning potential for chiropractors.
Are Chiropractic Treatments for Me?
Chiropractic care is a natural approach to healthcare that aims to improve a patient's overall health without the use of drugs or surgery. Chiropractors diagnose and treat musculoskeletal system issues that affect a patient's nervous system and general health. To do this, you'll perform various chiropractic treatments that utilize the body's natural recuperative powers. You might also counsel your patients about exercise, nutrition, stress management and other healthy lifestyle changes.
Although chiropractic care involves a variety of treatments, spinal manipulation is generally a big focus in this field. It's believed that even slight misalignments of the spine - called subluxations - can negatively impact health and affect function throughout the body by altering nerve impulses. Applying precise force to specific points on the spinal column can correct alignment issues and help the body heal itself. You're likely to work in a comfortable healthcare setting, but you may be on your feet a lot. If you take x-rays, this job carries the potential for repeated radiation exposure, but following safety precautions can minimize this risk.
Working in this field, you might be referred to as a chiropractor, chiropractic physician or doctor of chiropractic. Some chiropractors specialize in a particular area of treatment beyond general chiropractic care, such as pediatrics, internal disorders or sports injuries. Chiropractic assistants also work in chiropractic offices, but you must be a licensed chiropractor to perform chiropractic treatments.
This field is expected to see a healthy employment growth of 15% from 2012-2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); this is a better-than-average rate of increase when compared with all occupations. Based on BLS wage estimates, as of May 2012, the median annual wage for chiropractors was $65,300 (www.bls.gov).
How Can I Work in Chiropractic Treatments?
To get your chiropractor license, which is a requirement in all 50 states, you first need to complete 2-4 years of undergraduate education. Many states require only two years or 90 semester hours of undergrad education, but a growing number of programs require you to have a bachelor's degree. The recommended curriculum typically includes courses in inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, the humanities or social sciences, psychology, biology and English. Pre-chiropractic programs are also available.
Next, you need to complete an accredited Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) program. As of 2012, the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) accredited 15 programs from chiropractic colleges in the U.S. Such programs take four years or 4,200 hours of study to complete. During the first two years of a professional program, you focus mostly on classroom and lab work, taking courses in anatomy and physiology, pathology, microbiology, biochemistry and public health. The second half of a chiropractic program is devoted primarily to courses in spinal adjustment and clinical experiences.
Good manual dexterity, sharp observation skills, and the ability to work independently are skills that are crucial to your success as a chiropractor. Having a sincere desire to help people is also a beneficial attribute for chiropractors.
After completing your education, you may seek licensure. Requirements vary by state. Most states use the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners test (either the whole test or parts of it). The test includes three written tests and one practical exam. You must take the state-required number of continuing education courses each year in order to maintain your license.