Chiropractor: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

A chiropractor manipulates or adjusts the spine to correct misalignments that can cause health problems in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. To find out more about the job duties, employment outlook and educational requirements for chiropractors, continue reading. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Job Duties Might I Have as a Chiropractor?

Your primary duty as a chiropractor will be providing natural and non-invasive treatments to improve the health of your patients. You'll examine patients, perform laboratory tests and order x-rays in order to analyze the position of the spine. Such methods of examination help you ascertain whether your patients suffer from any diseases or spinal fractures. When a patient's medical problems are caused by a maladjusted spinal column, you will realign the spinal joints to alleviate or reduce back and neck pain, headaches and other conditions. You may use braces or tape to provide extra support for patients.

Typically, you'll use a variety of therapies when treating your patients, including those utilizing water, heat, acupuncture, ultrasound and massage. Another aspect of your job will involve counseling your patients on matters such as stress management, exercise, nutrition and healthy lifestyles. When appropriate, you may refer patients to other health care providers. Some areas you might specialize in as a chiropractor include pediatrics, internal disorders and neurology.

What is the Employment Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chiropractors expected a 20% increase in hiring between 2008 and 2018, and job prospects were projected to be favorable (www.bls.gov). Reasons for such rapid growth included an increased demand for alternative health care among Americans who were concerned with health and fitness. Additionally, more insurance policies began covering chiropractic care, making it more accessible and affordable. Jobs were expected to be especially plentiful for chiropractors specializing in pediatric and geriatric care.

What Educational Requirements Must I Satisfy?

Chiropractors must meet strict educational requirements. As you pursue chiropractic educational training, you will first need to obtain either an associate's or a bachelor's degree. According to the BLS, 4-year bachelor's degrees may become the minimum standard for chiropractors. Some colleges may have pre-chiropractic programs of study. Otherwise, ensure that your undergraduate education encompasses topics such as chemistry, psychology, physics, English and humanities.

Once you have earned an undergraduate degree, you'll need to enroll in a 4-year chiropractic program. As of 2009, the Council on Chiropractic Education accredited approximately 16 chiropractic programs in the U.S. Chiropractic programs consist of about 4,200 hours of education.

The first two years of your chiropractic program will focus on both laboratory and classroom training, and you'll study subject such as physiology, microbiology, biochemistry and public health. During the third and fourth years, your classes might include clinical experience in the areas of geriatrics, nutrition, laboratory diagnosis and orthopedics. Upon completion of your studies, you will receive the Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) credential.

Will I Need to Be Licensed?

According to state laws, prior to becoming a practicing chiropractor, you must become licensed. Depending on the state you reside in, licensing may be awarded by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), or states may give their own examinations according to their requirements. The NBCE licensing examination consists of three written parts, along with a practical section. The NBCE also offers optional sections that cover acupuncture and physiotherapy.

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