The 5 Initial Steps to Becoming a Chiropractor
If you’re considering becoming a chiropractor, you’re already well on your way to a rewarding career path. The chiropractic field continues to grow, offers a competitive salary, and allows for flexible hours if you decide to have your own practice. Best of all, it’s a field that allows you to make a real difference in the lives of others. Chances are you already know this career path is the one for you, but you may be wondering what actually goes into becoming a chiropractor. Below, we lay out the five essential steps that will successfully get you ready to reach your goal of being a licensed chiropractor.
Step 1: COMPLETE 3-4 YEARS OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES
This important first step will open the doors to the rest of your career path. Three to four years of undergraduate study are required in order to be eligible to apply to a chiropractic college. Keeping your grades up early on is also a must, and worth the effort: in order to become a chiropractor, your GPA must be a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale. It’s also important to get familiar with the admissions requirements of the chiropractic schools you’re interested in. Most will require coursework in natural sciences like chemistry, biology and physics.
Step 2: ATTEND A CHIROPRACTIC COLLEGE
Once you have completed your undergraduate studies, you’ll have built the foundation for the next step: obtaining your Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree from an accredited chiropractic college like Northeast. This is a three-plus year-long degree program. While that may seem like a lot of schooling, all of your studying will pay off. On average, chiropractic salaries start around $85,000 and can be much higher depending on which state you decide to practice in. The other good news? According to the Bureau of Labor, demand for chiropractors is projected to grow by 12% by 2026--faster than the average of all other occupations.
Step3: OBTAIN YOUR CHIROPRACTIC LICENSE
No matter which state you decide to work in, you will need a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and a license in order to be a practicing chiropractor. In order to obtain this license, you will have to pass a certification exam. Known as the NBCE (National Board of Chiropractic Examiners), this test contains 4 parts. It may sound overwhelming, but this exam does not have to be taken all at once. You will take each section at various times while you are working towards earning your degree. At Northeast, we’re proud of our high graduation and pass rates. Our Doctor of Chiropractic program has a graduation rate of 88% and a pass rate of 86%.
Step 4: CHOOSE A SPECIALTY
As a chiropractor, you can choose to specialize in a number of areas. This is when you can really hone in on your interests and choose what will bring you the most fulfillment within your career. Pediatrics, sports and human performance, and geriatrics are just a few examples of specialties on the rise. Choosing a specialty you feel passionate about is important, as it can help prevent career burnout. It also creates a win-win situation for both you and your patients. The more you care about your area of practice, the better quality of care you will provide for your patients. Your satisfied patients are far more likely to come back and refer others to you for care.
Step 5: CONTINUE GAINING KNOWLEDGE
While you will be a licensed chiropractor at this point in your journey, continuous learning is still an important step to include. Just because your schooling is over, doesn’t mean you should stop acquiring knowledge! Attending workshops and webinars even as you become more established in your practice will ensure that you are providing the best care possible to your patients. It’s also important to note that, in some states, continuing education is a requirement in order to maintain your licensure.
Interested in learning more about becoming a successful chiropractor? We cover everything you need to know in our full guide on how to become a chiropractor.