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If you're interested in working in the medical field, but you don't want to be in school for so many years, then there are other professions in that field you can pursue. One of these professions is being a chiropractor. A chiropractor treats people who have pain or have suffered injuries in their back, neck and shoulders, for example.
Chiropractors use special adjustments and manipulations, sometimes called "cracking," to get their patients feeling well again. If you'd like to be a chiropractor, you will still have to go to school, but not for as long as you would if you wanted to become another type of doctor, such as a surgeon. Still, it will take some hard work and true dedication.
To become a chiropractor, you will first need to obtain a bachelor's degree or complete at least 90 credits in undergraduate school in some states before enrolling in chiropractic school, which generally takes four years.
Job Description of a Chiropractor
Back pain effects millions of people around the world. Whether a patient has suffered an injury from a car accident or just can't seem to shake off that stiff neck, chiropractors help all kinds of people with all kinds of problems, whether they stem from a chronic condition or a short-term incident.
But, it's not just your back. Chiropractors treat patients who have issues with their neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons. Usually, this comes in the form of back or neck pain, which chiropractors treat in various ways, such as making adjustments to the spinal joints. They often also utilize massage therapy, rehabilitation and other strategies to help their patients to improve.
Other Responsibilities of a Chiropractor
In addition to their main job responsibilities, chiropractors have other responsibilities as well. Those who are able to meet the various needs of their clients and then some will likely earn a higher salary. They do this by:
- Understanding and assessing a patient's medical condition and concerns. Many patients who come into a chiropractor's office usually have specific goals in mind regarding their pain and treatment, and they want to make sure that the chiropractor is listening.
- Analyzing the patient's spine, posture and reflexes.
- Conducting tests and recording additional health problems, health history, medications and allergies.
- Providing additional treatment, such as hot and cold compresses.
- Giving advice as to what lifestyle changes can be made to improve the quality of life.
What Is a Chiropractor's Salary?
A chiropractor's earnings depend largely on experience, bedside manner and how much effort is put into marketing the business. Usually, people who go to chiropractors continue to go as long as the pain persists. While chiropractors, of course, want their patients to feel better, this helps them continue to make money long term. The average chiropractor salary, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor was $71,410 as of 2018.
Requirements to Become a Chiropractor
If you're interested in becoming a chiropractor, you will have to meet several requirements:
- Bachelor's degree.
- Doctor of Chiropractic degree (D.C.).
- License to practice as a chiropractor as required in every state.
- Choose a specialty (optional).
- Maintain your license by retaking exams or attending courses when required by your state.
How Many Years Is Chiropractor School?
A person who wants to become a chiropractor earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. To obtain this degree, you must attend a program at an accredited chiropractic college. This is a four-year degree program, but some students may take a bit longer to get through it. Because you need a bachelor's degree to get into chiropractic school, or, at least 90 credits from undergraduate school in some states, the whole process can take around seven years.
The Best Chiropractic Schools
There are only a handful of schools in the United States that offer a four-year Degree of Chiropractic program. Some of the better known programs are:
- South Carolina: Sherman College of Chiropractic
- California: Life Life Chiropractic CollegeWest
- Missouri: Logan University
- Oregon: University of Western States
- Connecticut: University of Bridgeport
- Multiple Locations: Palmer College of Chiropractic
- California: Southern California University of Health Sciences
- New York: New York Chiropractic College
- Texas: Texas Chiropractic College
- Illinois: National University of Health Sciences
How Much Does Chiropractic School Cost?
If you're interested in applying at chiropractic schools, it's important to be aware of the costs. Each school year can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000. While this may seem like a lot, attending chiropractic school can actually be quite a lucrative career path. Especially, when you think about how much you'll earn compared to what you spend on tuition, and compared to other career paths.
Becoming a Chiropractor Pros and Cons
Before becoming a chiropractor, it's a good idea to look at the pros and cons that people consider when deciding whether or not they should see a chiropractor, instead of seeing a "regular" doctor.
Many people may have concerns about seeing a chiropractor, because they may be worried about the safety of it. Perhaps they have heard negative stories about chiropractors and they fear there may be risks involved. Because of these ideas, chiropractors can have a hard time finding patients. Additionally, their patients may not be able to afford multiple appointments. Even though many insurance companies do cover chiropractic care, the copay costs can add up quickly.
As a chiropractor, you'll have to deal with skeptical patients who may be stubborn when it comes to how much faith they'll put in you to heal them. On the reverse side, this can also be a lot of pressure on you, as chiropractors often take in desperate patients who have tried everything first. Seeing a chiropractor is their last attempt at getting relief. This can be an overwhelming responsibility.
What to Expect in Chiropractic School
Once you've made the decision that chiropractic school is indeed the right path for you, it's helpful to become familiar with some of the things you can expect to learn and do while you're in the program. While programs vary in how they are designed, including coursework, lab components and clinical components, the programs share a lot of similarities overall.
In chiropractic school, students can expect to learn anatomy, particularly in the regions of the body that chiropractors generally work on. They will learn about the philosophy behind chiropractic medicine, and how to diagnose and treat patients based on their specific complaints and injuries. Most important, chiropractor students learn how to perform the different maneuvers to treat patients and practice these skills under the supervision of a professional, licensed chiropractor.
Taking the Chiropractic Exams
Four years of chiropractic school is still a long time, even if it's shorter than some other medical career paths. And, once you earn your D.C. degree, you will have to take a chiropractic exam before you can actually practice as a chiropractor. This three-part exam (with an optional fourth part) is given by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
Some states may require you to take additional exams. In order to get certified in your state, look up your state's requirements for chiropractors. Once you're certified, you can practice as a chiropractor. Overall, the path to becoming a chiropractor is rather straightforward, and most chiropractors live a rewarding and comfortable lifestyle.