Steps to Become a Chiropractor in the United States

Steps to Become a Chiropractor

Have you ever thought about using your hands to heal?

Does the human body fascinate you, particularly its capacity for self-healing?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, a career in chiropractic might be your calling. This profession lets you help others live healthier through natural, non-invasive methods.

We’re here to break down the steps to become a chiropractor in simple terms, guiding you toward this rewarding and hands-on profession.

So sit back, relax, and embark on this journey together.

Profession Outlook

Daniel David Palmer founded the chiropractic profession in 1895 in the U.S.

Palmer’s theory was that misalignment of the spinal vertebrae interfered with the body’s self-healing abilities, causing diseases.

By 1906, chiropractic had become a separate healthcare profession with its colleges and associations.

Chiropractic care addresses pain and dysfunction in the pelvic floor and promotes overall wellness and disease prevention.

Chiropractors may offer additional services such as nutritional counseling, ergonomic advice, and lifestyle modifications to support their patients’ health.

The future of healthcare is embracing chiropractic care.

With a growing demand for natural and alternative services and increased awareness of its benefits, chiropractic care is on the rise.

Ongoing research highlights its effectiveness, ensuring better quality care and integration into mainstream healthcare.

5 Key Steps to Become a Chiropractor in the US

men writing steps to become chiropractor

Are you passionate about becoming a chiropractor?

Ready to embark on this rewarding journey?

Here are the five key steps to become a chiropractor in the U.S.

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
  2. Complete a Doctor of Chiropractic Program
  3. Obtain a State License
  4. Gain Clinical Experience
  5. Pursue Specialization and Continuing Education

Let’s get into more details.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Before starting your chiropractic education, you must complete a bachelor’s degree.

While specific requirements may vary, choosing a degree program that aligns with your interests in science, biology, or a related field is advisable.

This foundational knowledge will provide a solid basis for your future chiropractic studies.

Step 2: Complete a Doctor of Chiropractic Program

Once you have your bachelor’s degree, the next step is to enroll in a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) program.

These programs, approved by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE), usually last four years.

You’ll study various subjects during your chiropractic education, including anatomy, physiology, chiropractic techniques, diagnostic imaging, and patient care.

You’ll also learn by doing through internships and clinical practice.

Step 3: Obtain a State License

After completing your D.C. program, you must obtain a state license to practice as a chiropractor.

Requirements for licensure vary by state but generally involve passing the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exams.

Some states may also have additional licensing requirements, such as jurisprudence exams or background checks.

You should find out what the state you wish to work in requires.

Step 4: Gain Clinical Experience

To further develop your skills and gain hands-on experience, seeking clinical opportunities is essential.

Many chiropractic programs include clinical internships as part of the curriculum, allowing you to treat patients under the supervision of experienced chiropractors.

Additionally, consider pursuing externship opportunities or volunteering at chiropractic clinics to enhance your clinical skills and build your professional network.

Step 5: Pursue Specialization and Continuing Education

While not mandatory, pursuing specialization through postgraduate programs can open up additional career opportunities and allow you to focus on specific areas of chiropractic care.

Specializations can include sports chiropractic, pediatric chiropractic, or chiropractic orthopedics, among others.

Additionally, continuing education is crucial to stay updated with the latest advancements in the field and maintain your licensure.

Participating in workshops, seminars, and conferences can help you expand your knowledge and refine your techniques.

Becoming a chiropractor requires dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to lifelong learning.

By following these five fundamental steps, you’ll be well on your way to positively impacting your patient’s health and well-being.

Requirements to Become a Chiropractor

boy thinking about educational requirements to become chiropractor

To become a chiropractor, there are specific educational requirements and other essential criteria one must meet, such as:

  1. This is the first step in your journey. Choose a science-based program to align with your future studies.
  2. After your undergraduate degree, enrolling in a Doctor of Chiropractic program typically takes four years.
  3. Once you’ve completed your D.C. program, you must get a license to practice in your state. This usually involves passing an exam.
  4. Get hands-on experience at chiropractic clinics through internships, volunteer work, or externships.
  5. You may specialize in a specific area of chiropractic care, like sports or pediatric chiropractic.
  6. Keep abreast of the newest developments in the field. Attend workshops, seminars, and conferences to refine your skills.

Becoming a chiropractor without a degree is not possible.

This is a field that requires extensive knowledge. A degree gives you this knowledge. It trains you in critical areas like anatomy and patient care.

Without a degree, you cannot gain this training. So, a degree is a must to be a chiropractor.

Why Should You Become a Chiropractor?

Becoming a chiropractor can be rewarding for those interested in a health profession that merges science and holistic care.

But why become a chiropractor?

Making a Difference

As a chiropractor, you make a significant difference in people’s lives.

You’ll be helping patients improve their health, alleviate pain, and achieve a better quality of life.

Growing Demand

The demand for chiropractic care is on the rise, driven by a greater emphasis on preventative care and an increasing number of people seeking natural, non-surgical treatment options.

Scientific and Holistic Approach

Chiropractic care combines elements of science, art, and philosophy.

This unique blend enables chiropractors to treat patients holistically, considering the body as an interconnected system rather than focusing solely on symptoms.


Many chiropractors are self-employed, running their practices.

This autonomy allows flexibility, control over your schedule, and the chance to shape your practice to your values and interests.

Job Satisfaction

Chiropractors consistently report high job satisfaction from helping others, using their skills and knowledge, and seeing tangible results.

Considering these benefits, it’s clear that choosing to become a licensed chiropractor can offer a fulfilling and meaningful professional path.

What is the Cost of Becoming a Chiropractor?

Costs Involved in Becoming a Chiropractor

The cost of becoming a chiropractor can vary widely, mainly depending on your location and the specific school you choose to attend.

Here are some general cost considerations:

  • Tuition: Chiropractic degree programs can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000 for tuition alone. Some top chiropractic schools may charge even more.
  • Books and Supplies: Expect to pay around $2,000 annually for textbooks and other supplies.
  • Living Expenses: Don’t forget to consider living expenses, like rent, food, and transportation. These costs depend on your lifestyle and where you live.
  • Licensing Exam: The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam fee can be around $1,500.

On the bright side, there are financial aid options available.

Scholarships, grants, and student loans can help offset these costs.

Exploring all your options before starting your journey to become a chiropractor is always a good idea.

Remember, while the initial investment may seem high, the potential return regarding job satisfaction, income, and making a difference in others’ lives can make it worthwhile.

How Much Can You Make as a Chiropractor in the U.S.?

Chiropractors in the United States earn a good income.

As of December 27, 2023, the average salary for a chiropractor is about $164,297.

However, this is not a fixed rate.

The actual pay can be lower or higher. Sometimes, a chiropractor’s income can fall to about $139,612. On the other hand, it can also rise to about $226,485.

The income potential for chiropractors can vary depending on location, experience, specialization, and type of practice.

For example, self-employed chiropractors may earn more than those working for someone else.

Another essential factor to consider is that you can increase your income as a chiropractor.

With experience and reputation, you can build a successful practice that generates higher earnings.

Some Misconceptions

There are some common misconceptions surrounding the question of whether a nurse or massage therapist can become a chiropractor.

Let’s address them:

Can a nurse become a chiropractor?

Yes, it is possible for a nurse to earn a degree in chiropractic.

However, they must complete the necessary coursework and pass the licensing exam to become a licensed chiropractor.

Can a massage therapist become a chiropractor?

A massage therapist can also pursue a degree in chiropractic and become a chiropractor.

However, they would need to complete the required education and training before being able to practice as a licensed chiropractor.

Furthermore, there is often confusion about what chiropractors do.

Some may believe that chiropractors only treat back pain or use unconventional methods. Still, they are trained healthcare professionals who use evidence-based techniques to address a wide range of musculoskeletal issues.

Tips to Grow Yourself as a Chiropractor

Once you have completed your education and become a licensed chiropractor, there are many ways to continue growing and improving your profession.

Here are some tips:

1. Master Your Craft

Continually hone your skills and stay updated on the latest chiropractic research and techniques.

This will improve your service and bring credibility and trust among your patients.

2. Build Your Network

Attend events, seminars, and workshops related to chiropractic care.

Networking with other professionals can lead to knowledge exchange, referrals, and potential partnerships.

Harness Social Media Marketing

Use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter to reach a wider audience.

Share informative content, patient testimonials, and your clinic’s updates to create a positive online presence and attract new patients.

3. Offer Exceptional Customer Service

Building a successful practice is about providing excellent chiropractic care and ensuring a tremendous overall patient experience.

From the moment a patient walks into your clinic until they leave, ensure every interaction is positive and professional.

4. Leverage Email Marketing

Keep your patients engaged and informed by sending out regular newsletters with health tips, appointment reminders, or updates about your practice.

This helps maintain a strong relationship with your existing patients and aids retention.

5. Continuously Learn and Grow

The chiropractic field is constantly evolving. Stay current with new techniques and findings, and never stop learning.

The more knowledge you have, the better service you can provide, ultimately leading to your practice’s growth.


1. What is the typical duration to acquire a degree in chiropractic?

It typically takes four years to complete a full-time Doctor of Chiropractic degree program. However, the period may differ depending on the program structure and whether you study part-time or full-time.

2. Can you practice as a Chiropractor without passing the licensing exam?

No, you cannot practice as a licensed Chiropractor without passing the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam. The licensing exam ensures you have the necessary skills and knowledge to practice safely and effectively.

3. Can a Chiropractor prescribe medication?

No, chiropractors do not prescribe medication. They focus on treating patients using hands-on, non-invasive techniques like adjustments, manipulations, and physical therapy.

4. Can Chiropractors only treat back pain?

No, chiropractors can treat various conditions related to the musculoskeletal system, not just back pain. This includes neck pain, headaches, joint disorders, and specific health problems related to nerves and muscles.

Bottom Line

The journey to becoming a chiropractor involves a lot of hard work, dedication, and continuous learning.

From completing an accredited degree program and passing a licensing exam to establishing your practice, each step presents its challenges and rewards.

The field of chiropractic care allows you to make a significant difference in the lives of your patients, offering treatments that enhance their overall well-being.

To navigate this rewarding path successfully, keep exploring new techniques, stay updated with the latest research, and never lose sight of your passion for helping others.

For more insights and information on chiropractic care, don’t forget to read our other blogs at Chiropric.

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