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Become a Chiropractor

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A chiropractor is a medical practitioner who treats problems of the musculoskeletal and nervous system through external manipulation of the body. As a chiropractor, you might also consider the effect that hereditary, dietary and environmental factors might have on a patient's health and then recommend changes in exercise, nutrition and rest habits to address them. Your specific duties include interviewing patients about their medical histories, evaluating the condition of a patient through analysis of x-rays and direct observation, diagnosing ailments according to chiropractic principles, performing adjustments to the spine and limbs, and referring patients to other practitioners.

Career Requirements

Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A Doctor of Chiropractic degree is required to work as chiropractor. However, candidates usually must first complete at least 90 credits of undergraduate coursework. Some states do not require a bachelor's degree to become licensed as a chiropractor, so individuals should check with the state board they wish to practice in. Students should choose a major offering coursework in chemistry, biology and physics to meet chiropractic college prerequisites. Because of the close personal contact required by this career, aspiring chiropractors should also take courses, such as communication, sociology and interpersonal relations.

Attend a Chiropractic College

Future chiropractors must earn the Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree from an accredited chiropractic college. Only a handful of schools in the United States offer this 4-year degree program. Students typically take courses and labs in anatomy and chemistry, chiropractic philosophy and diagnosis. Specific courses are taught on chiropractic techniques, such as instrument-assisted systems, chiropractic biophysics, spinal biomechanics and extremity adjustment techniques. Most programs include an internship at a chiropractic practice or clinic where students can practice their manipulation and diagnostic skills under the supervision of a licensed chiropractor.

Obtain a License

All states require that chiropractors hold a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and pass a certification exam before they can begin their careers. Some states require chiropractors to earn additional continuing education credits after graduating from a chiropractic college before they can take the exam. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners offers a three-part exam (with an optional fourth section) that is accepted by most states, while some states have their own exam.

Choose a Chiropractic Specialty

Many chiropractors specialize in sports injuries, geriatrics or pediatrics. Some combine neuropathy with chiropractic procedures to treat nervous system and back pain conditions without the use of surgery or drugs. Chiropractors may focus on community outreach programs to increase the population's acceptance of chiropractic medicine.