9 Important Questions About Chiropractic Careers
Chiropractic careers give you the opportunity to join the healthcare field and play an integral role in improving people’s health and well-being. If you’re thinking about chiropractic as a possible career path, you should know that this is an exciting time to join the profession.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. To gain a basic understanding of what a career as a chiropractor involves, the following Q&A will help. We’ll cover key areas like these:
- The basic definition of a chiropractor
- The duties and responsibilities of a chiropractor
- The job outlook and earning potential for a chiropractor
- The advantages to a chiropractic career path
- The qualities to have as a chiropractor
- The steps it takes to be a chiropractor
1. What is a chiropractor?
Chiropractors, or doctors of chiropractic, are healthcare professionals who view health and illness from a holistic perspective. They focus on how musculoskeletal structures, body function and the nervous system are closely interrelated. Disturbances in one system can impact the others, as well as affect a person’s overall health and well-being.
Chiropractors maintain that the human body possesses an inherent ability to heal itself. By using treatment methods that are non-surgical and non-pharmacological, body function can be restored or rehabilitated – and further disability can be prevented.
In the process of providing patient care, chiropractors may consult with other healthcare professionals and refer patients to them as well.
2. How do chiropractors provide care to their patients?
Chiropractic treatment typically involves examining and treating patients with problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes the bones, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Treatment can also involve procedures to prevent neuromusculoskeletal system disorders.
During a patient visit, chiropractors may …
- Deliver hands-on treatment that involves adjusting and manually manipulating the spine and other joints
- Treat soft tissue structures with manual therapies
- Incorporate methods that use specialized instruments to assist in treatment
- Provide health and wellness assessments
Note that chiropractors can serve as primary contact providers, which means they may be a patient’s first contact in seeking healthcare.
3. What is the job outlook for chiropractors?
Numerous factors indicate a promising future for chiropractors and the field of chiropractic care:
- An expanding field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 7% job growth rate between 2018 and 2028.
- Strong job security. Based on criteria like consistently low unemployment rates and positive growth projections, U.S. News and World Report ranks being a chiropractor as one of the best careers for job security.
- Greater insurance coverage. Today, most insurance plans include coverage for chiropractic care. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 87% of insured Americans have plans covering chiropractic care.
- Promising legislation. Recent legislation has expanded Veteran Administration (VA) services to include chiropractic care for veterans. This development has deeper implications that can ultimately influence other health systems.
- A welcome alternative to drugs and surgery. With painkiller/opioid abuse reaching epidemic levels, a chiropractor’s non-invasive services are becoming a popular and effective approach for pain management.
- Timely treatment for an aging population. Baby Boomers are not only the largest segment of the population; they’re living longer than prior generations. As they age, their need for musculoskeletal-related care and treatment will likely increase. Chiropractic Economics points to studies showing that 14% of older Americans are receiving chiropractic care, a number expected to rise.
4. What is a chiropractor’s salary or yearly income?
Online sources vary on an average chiropractor’s income. To better understand a chiropractor’s earning potential, here are some key considerations as you do your research:
- Look into how a source determines the average salary—i.e., where do its numbers come from?
- Salaries can differ in relation to whether you’re an owner-operator of your own practice, an associate chiropractor employed at a chiropractic office, or a chiropractor employed at a hospital, clinic, or other setting.
- Incomes can also vary widely based on geographic location.
5. Where do chiropractors work?
Chiropractors typically provide care to patients in clean, quiet clinical office settings that can include the following types of work environments:
- Solo practice offices, where chiropractors are self-employed
- Group practice offices, where multiple chiropractors provide care
- Integrative clinics, where chiropractors and other healthcare providers like massage therapists and acupuncturists provide care
- Primary care clinics
- Multidisciplinary clinics
- VA Medical Centers
- Corporate settings
- Fitness centers
- Sports team facilities
6. What are some unique advantages to a career as a chiropractor?
As a chiropractor, you have the opportunity to enjoy career advantages like these:
- Greater flexibility. Chiropractors can enjoy a high degree of autonomy, especially compared to other healthcare practitioners. Being self-employed and owning your own practice is a popular choice. This option affords you the freedom to be your own boss and set your own hours of service.
- Growing career options. Chiropractors have more and more options to work in a variety of settings and develop specializations. Children, expectant mothers, the elderly, hospital patients, underserved populations—these are just a few examples of the patient groups you can focus on.
- Being part of the solution. Healthcare as we know it is changing. For example, there is a growing demand for treatment options for pain management that don’t involve drugs or surgery. Chiropractic care—and its emphasis on non-invasive therapy—is poised to play an integral role in healthcare’s evolution.
Watch Katie Burns Ryan, DC, Dean of the College of Chiropractic at Northwestern Health Sciences University, talk about why she became a chiropractor and also why it’s a great time to join the profession.
7. What qualities should you have to be a chiropractor?
Is a chiropractic career right for you? Attending chiropractic school will obviously help you acquire the technical skills and knowledge you need to be a chiropractor. But there are also other considerations. As you explore the possibility of a career as a chiropractor, keep qualities like the following in mind:
- Interested in gaining a deep understanding of the human body. A chiropractic education involves extensive study in human anatomy and physiology, in addition to training in areas like diagnosis and orthopedics. You’ll apply this knowledge every day when you provide chiropractic care.
- Enjoy providing hands-on treatment to numerous patients each day. Being a chiropractor means delivering actual treatment during patient visits. In fact, manual, or hands-on, therapy is at the core of chiropractic treatment. This makes it a much more patient-centered clinical encounter compared to, say, a medical doctor visit in which a patient is sent off with a prescription.
- Like talking with people and listening closely to their needs and concerns. Interpersonal skills are crucial for chiropractors. They also need to have empathy and patience and an ability to put people at ease. In other words, chiropractic care involves both a physical and an emotional component.
- Have an entrepreneurial spirit. Though not every chiropractor wants or needs to open their own practice, many do. They must understand the factors that go into running a business successfully and address responsibilities related to things like billing and accounting, marketing, and office administration.
8. What are the academic requirements for a career as a chiropractor?
You will need to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree to become a chiropractor. Programs to earn the Doctor of Chiropractic degree typically take between three and four years.
Coursework and degree prerequisites for attending chiropractic school vary from program to program, depending on which school you choose.
You may not need a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into many Doctor of Chiropractic programs.
However, The Council on Chiropractic Education states that all accredited chiropractic schools require that students “have completed the equivalent of three academic years of undergraduate study (90 semester hours)” with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
Some Doctor of Chiropractic programs provide a path to complete your bachelor’s degree while you pursue your chiropractic education.
Note that you will want to attend a school that meets official standards established within the chiropractic profession. Be sure the school you choose is accredited by The Council on Chiropractic Education.
9. What licenses and certifications do you need to be a chiropractor?
In addition to completing a Doctor of Chiropractic degree program, you must secure a license from the state (or relevant jurisdiction) where you plan to practice chiropractic care.
Specific requirements may vary from state to state, but generally speaking, you will need to pass a series of exams administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE).
Other requirements may include passing a background check and taking exams on specific state laws related to practicing chiropractic care.
So how do we know so much about chiropractic careers? Since our founding in 1941, more than 5,000 chiropractors have graduated from the Northwestern Health Sciences University chiropractic program.
We are a mission-driven university, preparing the next generation of healthcare professionals to not only deliver but also advance healthcare.
For more information on the path to a chiropractic career, see How to Become a Chiropractor.
If you’re interested in learning more about attending chiropractic school, contact Northwestern Health Sciences University today.