Chiropractor - How to Become a Chiropractor


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Chiropractor Overview


Chiropractors believe that the body can heal itself without drugs or surgery. They manipulate the structure of the body to bring about healing and restorative affects. A chiropractor is a health care professional focused on the diagnosis and treatment neuromuscular disorders. They specialize in treating disorders through manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine.

Most chiropractors seek to reduce pain and improve the functionality of patients. They also educate them on how to live healthier and treat their bodies better. 




Chiropractors are responsible for treating people's musculoskeletal issues. They manipulate the skeleton to relieve pain and and improve overall health.  

Chiropractors use a variety of non-surgical treatments to treat patients with:

  • Lower back pain

  • Leg Pain

  • Neck pain

  • Repetitive strains

  • Headaches

  • Sports injuries

  • Car accident injuries

  • Arthritic pain

While they primarily focus on treating neuromusculoskeletal disorders, chiropractors are not exclusively limited to problems with the nervous system and musculoskeletal system. They work with other healthcare providers and refer patients to medical doctors for other health concerns as they arise. 





Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas about patient issues, tell the patient how to rehab their injuries, and communicate treatment options. 


Monitoring/Assessing patient to make sure they are responding well to treatment and make improvements or take corrective action when necessary. 

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 


Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands (literally) and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 


Must work well with your hands, as they are your main tool for your job. 



Working Conditions


Chiropractors enjoy clean, comfortable offices with normal work schedules. They mostly work an average 40 hours a week, but some can work longer. Most own their practice and have a good level of autonomy. They do spend a ton of their time on their feet and use their hands all the time.  

In all they have a relatively low-stress medical job and work great schedules in a good environment. Many chiropractors set up their offices to bring about a calming effect to their patients, so low lighting and comfortable seating is not uncommon. 



How to Become a Chiropractor:


1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)


In some states you don't need a bachelor's degree, but in others you do. You should check with your state to see what the requirements are. But if you do need a bachelor's you need to choose a major that is heavy on physics, biology, chemistry, and math. It might benefit you to take the premed course load so you can meet all the chiropractic college prerequisites. 

Coursework for premed could look like the following:


Grade Level

Example Courses

Freshman Year


  • General Chemistry I & Lab

  • General Chemistry II & Lab

  • Biology & Lab

  • Calculus I

  • English 101

  • English 102

  • Humanities Requirement

  • Physics I & Lab

  • Physics II & Lab

Sophomore Year

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab

  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab

  • Fundamentals of Microbiology & Lab

  • Genetics

  • Physiology 

  • Humanities Requirement

  • Electives

Junior Year


  • Cell Structure & Function

  • General Virology & Lab

  • Microbial Genetics & Lab

  • Biochemistry I

  • Biochemistry II

  • Physics

  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Upper Level Biology

  • Upper Level Chemistry

  • Upper Level Physics

  • Upper Level Psychology

  • Upper Level Kinesiology 

  • Electives


2. Earn a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree (3-4 Years)


To be a chiropractor, you have to get your Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree from an accredited college. There are only a few schools in the nation that offer this degree. The courses are following:  

  • Chemistry labs

  • Anatomy labs

  • Chiropractic diagnosis and philosophy

  • Chiropractic techniques

  • Instrument systems

  • Chiropractic biophysics

  • Spinal biomechanics 

  • Extremity adjustment techniques

Most of these programs include an internship at a chiropractic practice or clinic where students can gain experience and learn how to diagnose and treat patients under the supervision of a licensed chiropractor.


3. Earn the Required License & Certification


To be a chiropractor you must pass a certification exam and get your license. You might need additional continuing education credits before you take the exam. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners offers a three-part exam (with an optional fourth section) that candidates must pass to be licensed. Some states have their own exams that people can take to be licensed. The test is comprised of the following:


 Section Breakdown

Part One

  • 90 multiple-choice questions

  • Tests General Anatomy, Spinal Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry, Pathology, Microbiology

Part Two

  • 90 standard multiple-choice questions

  • 75 Minutes

  • Tests General Diagnosis, Neuromusculoskeletal Diagnosis, Diagnostic Imaging, Principles Of Chiropractic, Chiropractic Practice, Associated Clinical Sciences

Part Three

  • Two sections, with a total of 110 standard multiple-choice questions and 10 case vignettes

  • Two Hours

  • Tests nine clinical areas: Case History, Physical Examination, Neuromusculoskeletal Examination, Diagnostic Imaging, Clinical Laboratory and Special Studies, Diagnosis or Clinical Impression, Chiropractic Techniques, Supportive Interventions, Case Management

Optional Part Four

  • Consists of 35 stations which are allotted specific time per station

  • Approximately 3 hours

  • Three major sections that test Diagnostic Imaging (DIM), Chiropractic Technique, and Case Management

After you pass the test you can apply for your licensure from the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB). You can find your states requirements and find everything you need to get your license. 


4. Choose a Chiropractic Specialty


As a chiropractor you can focus your practice in different specialties through the ACA. You can specialize in sports injuries, geriatrics or pediatrics. You can also combine neuropathy with chiropractic procedures to treat your patients without the use of surgery or drugs. Chiropractors can also specialize in community outreach programs to raise awareness of alternative medicine.  


5. Maintain Licensure Through Continuing Education


Continuing education is required for yearly renewal of state licensure. Chiropractors often attend workshops or take continuing education classes to stay current on developments and new practices. Many chiropractors increase their knowledge in naturopathy, massage, or alternative medicine.



Salary Outlook

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Department: Family Medicine- St. PeterA Life-Changing CareerResponsibilities: Do you prefer a more intimate, locally-focused work environment? Mayo Clinic Health System offers deeply rewarding career opportunities through regional, urban medical...
  1. Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant - Family Medicine(St. Peter) Job Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic - Rochester
    Department: Family Medicine- St. PeterA Life-Changing CareerResponsibilities: Do you prefer a more intimate, locally-focused work environment? Mayo Clinic Health System offers deeply rewarding career opportunities through regional, urban medical...