Chiropractic, Inside Chiro School

Chiropractor Jobs to Start Your Career

This article is part of our “Inside Chiro School” series, where recent NWHSU graduate Kit Harlow shares the real scoop about chiropractor jobs, education, and more.  

When you start chiropractic school, graduation feels like a lifetime away. Getting through the first anatomy and chemistry courses are your main priority, and boards are a foreign concept to worry about after your first year.  

Every professor offers their opinion that chiropractic school goes by fast, and as a new graduate myself, I can attest to that. Reflecting back on my experience in the chiropractic program at NWHSU, I remember the nerves I felt walking into my very first anatomy class. Then I blinked – only to be walking on stage receiving my doctorate.  

It might seem obvious that the next step after graduation is to begin your career as a chiropractic doctor. After all, that’s why you started this journey. How do you get a chiropractor job? There are a few different avenues worth considering as a new graduate.  

Chiropractor Job #1: Opening Your Own Practice  

For some new graduates, the answer is to open their own practice right away. Maybe it’s the desire to practice exactly how they wish, to be their own boss, or to leave a legacy for the future. Whatever the motivation, some have the drive and commitment it takes to start their own business.  

My colleague Dr. Jackie Bartz is in the midst of opening her own practice in her rural hometown. I asked her what the experience has been like so far: 

“Becoming a practice owner, whether as a new graduate or at any other time, is a significant but fulfilling journey. Despite heavily considering becoming an associate first, I couldn’t find a clinic in my rural area that fully aligned with my vision.  

With a focus on research and progress, it was crucial to work in an environment that shared these values. When a rental space opened up in our small town, I saw it as an opportunity to accelerate my dream of owning my ideal clinic.  

Chiropractic Program/Jobs at NWHSU Discovery Day

That’s not to say the decision was fully impulsive; I had gained years of experience in chiropractic clinic operations during my undergraduate years. At Northwestern, I strategically chose electives and internships that expanded my business and clinical knowledge, preparing me for practice ownership. While opening my clinic post-graduation came with massive challenges like drafting a business plan, marketing strategies, insurance credentialing, and managing renovations, the freedom to provide evidence-based, individualized care and the potential for personal and professional growth keep me motivated!” 

Chiropractic Job #2: The Associate Route  

For others, a place to land to begin their professional career is the goal. “Associating” means working for another chiropractic doctor in an established practice.  

There are several perks to starting off as an associate. Landing in an established practice can offer mentorship. It also allows you to focus on growth as a physician or paying off student debt (or both).  

In my experience as an associate in a clinic in Uptown Minneapolis, I was able to transition into my workload slowly, gradually increasing my hours as I navigated the change from academia to the work force. I knew I wanted to remain in the metro area, didn’t want my own practice, and desired to work with women practitioners in an integrative care setting. 

When looking for a potential associateship, the key is to begin early and to consider your patient population and future coworkers. Utilize job search sites like Handshake and Indeed or consider your 10th trimester internship as an opportunity for future employment.  

Chiropractic Jobs #3: Post Doctoral Fellowships and Residencies  

Postdoctoral training programs are common in the science and healthcare disciplines, and that includes chiropractic. There are several opportunities in the chiropractic job field for new doctors who want to continue their education, specialize, or for those who seek research mentorship.  

Residency and fellowship programs are important to the advancement of the profession. You can play an important role in research, policy, academia and wider health care systems. Most chiropractic academic institutions offer post academic fellowships, but a google search can surface lesser-known opportunities.  

College of Chiropractic at NWHSU

The most well-known is the residency through Veterans Affairs. With locations across the country, residents work in integrated health care systems and are provided advanced clinical training in multi orbit case management under senior VA chiropractors. The residency is full time for 12-months and requires a DC degree. You can apply before you’re licensed, if you obtain your license before residency completion) 

Northwestern Health Sciences University offers a sports residency through the Human Performance Center. It’s one of the few opportunities like it in the country. I talked with Dr. Cree Foster, current resident, about her motivation and experience.   

Chiropractic Jobs #4: Teaching 

A more unique opportunity for new graduates is teaching entry-level basic science courses for undergraduate programs. This is not always easy to find but can be rewarding.  

I asked NWHSU professor Dr. Matt Thronson about his experience teaching as a new graduate and NWHSU fellow: 

“I taught anatomy 311 at Concordia University in St. Paul shortly after graduating from NWHSU in 2014 and beginning my fellowship through the Human Performance Center. The 311 level required me to do more prep work in terms of reviewing the material, totaling about 4 hours a week of commitment including class time, prep, and the cadaver lab. The other fellow at the time, Dr. Liz Moos, taught anatomy 101 and had virtually no prep time, teaching a couple of two-hour classes a week. We were paid close to 10k per term!” 

Other teaching opportunities could include openings for faculty positions at chiropractic institutions. Most have postings on their affiliated online job board. 

Finding Your Place to Land  

In closing, you’ll have chiropractic job options when you graduate. My advice? Take advantage of all the connections and resources you have while you’re still in school. Build relationships with supervisors, colleagues and professors. Plus, take advantage of any mentorship programs, career services, and club events your school offers.