How to Become a Chiropractor

How to Become a Chiropractor

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

In some states you don't need a bachelor's degree, but in others you do. You should check with your state to see what the requirements are.

But if you do need a bachelor's you need to choose a major that is heavy on physics, biology, chemistry, and math. It might benefit you to take the premed course load so you can meet all the chiropractic college prerequisites.

Coursework for premed could look like the following:

Grade Level Example Courses
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Biology & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Fundamentals of Microbiology & Lab
  • Genetics
  • Physiology
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Cell Structure & Function
  • General Virology & Lab
  • Microbial Genetics & Lab
  • Biochemistry I 
  • Biochemistry II
  • Physics
  • Electives
  • Upper Level Biology
  • Upper Level Chemistry
  • Upper Level Physics
  • Upper Level Kinesiology
  • Electives

2. Earn a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree (3-4 Years)

To be a chiropractor, you have to get your Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree from an accredited college. There are only a few schools in the nation that offer this degree. The courses are following: 

  • Chemistry labs
  • Anatomy labs
  • Chiropractic diagnosis and philosophy
  • Chiropractic techniques
  • Instrument systems
  • Chiropractic biophysics
  • Spinal biomechanics
  • Extremity adjustment techniques

Most of these programs include an internship at a chiropractic practice or clinic where students can gain experience and learn how to diagnose and treat patients under the supervision of a licensed chiropractor.

3. Earn the Required License & Certification

To be a chiropractor you must pass a certification exam and get your license. You might need additional continuing education credits before you take the exam.

The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners offers a three-part exam (with an optional fourth section) that candidates must pass to be licensed. Some states have their own exams that people can take to be licensed.

The test is comprised of the following:

Section Details
Part One
  • 90 multiple-choice questions
  • Tests General Anatomy, Spinal Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry, Pathology, and Microbiology
Part Two
  • 90 standard multiple-choice questions
  • 75 minutes
  • Tests General Diagnosis, Neuromusculoskeletal Diagnosis, Diagnostic Imaging, Principles of Chiropractic, Chiropractic Practice, Associated Clinical Sciences
Part Three
  • Two sections, with a total of 110 standard multiple-choice questions and 10 case vignettes
  • 2 hours
  • Tests nine clinical areas: Case History, Physical Examination, Neuromusculoskeletal Examination, Diagnostic Imaging, Clinical Laboratory & Special Studies, Diagnosis of Clinical Depression, Chiropractic Techniques, Supportive Interventions, & Case Management
Part Four (Optional)
  • Consists of 35 stations which are allotted specific time per station
  • Approximately 3 hours
  • Three major sections that test Diagnostic Imaging (DIM), Chiropractic Technique, and Case Management

After you pass the test you can apply for your licensure from the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB). You can find your state's requirements and find everything you need to get your license.

4. Choose a Chiropractic Specialty

As a chiropractor you can focus your practice in different specialties through the ACA. You can specialize in sports injuries, geriatrics or pediatrics. You can also combine neuropathy with chiropractic procedures to treat your patients without the use of surgery or drugs.

Chiropractors can also specialize in community outreach programs to raise awareness of alternative medicine.

5. Maintain Licensure Through Continuing Education

Continuing education is required for yearly renewal of state licensure. Chiropractors often attend workshops or take continuing education classes to stay current on developments and new practices.

Many chiropractors increase their knowledge in naturopathy, massage, or alternative medicine.