Chiropractors must be licensed, which requires 2 to 4 years of undergraduate
education, the completion of a 4-year chiropractic college course, and passing
scores on national and State examinations.
Education and training. In 2009, 16
chiropractic programs in the United States were accredited by the Council on
Chiropractic Education. Applicants must have at least 90 semester hours of
undergraduate study leading toward a bachelor's degree, including courses in
English, the social sciences or humanities, organic and inorganic chemistry,
biology, physics, and psychology. Many applicants have a bachelor's degree,
which may eventually become the minimum entry requirement. Several chiropractic
colleges offer prechiropractic study, as well as a bachelor's degree program.
Recognition of prechiropractic education offered by chiropractic colleges varies
among the States.
Chiropractic programs require a minimum of 4,200 hours of combined classroom,
laboratory, and clinical experience. During the first 2 years, most chiropractic
programs emphasize classroom and laboratory work in sciences such as anatomy,
physiology, public health, microbiology, pathology, and biochemistry. The last 2
years focus on courses in manipulation and spinal adjustment and provide
clinical experience in physical and laboratory diagnosis, neurology,
orthopedics, geriatrics, physiotherapy, and nutrition. Chiropractic programs and
institutions grant the degree of Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.).
Chiropractic colleges also offer postdoctoral training in orthopedics,
neurology, sports injuries, nutrition, rehabilitation, radiology, industrial
consulting, family practice, pediatrics, and applied chiropractic sciences. Once
such training is complete, chiropractors may take specialty exams leading to
diplomate status in a given specialty. Exams are administered by chiropractic
Licensure. All States and the District of
Columbia regulate the practice of chiropractic and grant licenses to
chiropractors who meet the educational and examination requirements established
by the State. Chiropractors can practice only in States where they are licensed.
Some States have agreements permitting chiropractors licensed in one State to
obtain a license in another without further examination, provided that their
educational, examination, and practice credentials meet State specifications.
Most State licensing boards require at least 2 years of undergraduate
education, but an increasing number are requiring a 4-year bachelor's degree.
All boards require the completion of a 4-year program at an accredited
chiropractic college leading to the Doctor of Chiropractic degree.
For licensure, most State boards recognize either all or part of the
four-part test administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
State examinations may supplement the National Board tests, depending on State
requirements. All States except New Jersey require the completion of a specified
number of hours of continuing education each year in order to maintain
licensure. Chiropractic associations and accredited chiropractic programs and
institutions offer continuing education programs.
Other qualifications. Chiropractic
requires keen observation to detect physical abnormalities. It also takes
considerable manual dexterity, but not unusual strength or endurance, to perform
adjustments. Chiropractors should be able to work independently and handle
responsibility. As in other health-related occupations, empathy, understanding,
and the desire to help others are good qualities for dealing effectively with
Advancement. Newly licensed chiropractors
can set up a new practice, purchase an established one, or enter into
partnership with an established practitioner. They also may take a salaried
position with an established chiropractor, a group practice, or a healthcare
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
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Chiropractor Job Outlook