A chiropractor is a health professional who focuses on the spine, performing adjustments to the spine which are designed to address the complaints of the patient. The training required to become a chiropractor is quite extensive, and equivalent to the training offered to medical doctors in terms of time spent in school. People interested in a career as a chiropractor should undergo several sessions with a practicing chiropractor and talk with chiropractors in their community to see if this branch of the medical field is right for them.
Someone who wants to become a chiropractor should start by attending a college or university to obtain a four year degree, ideally in pre-med or the sciences. This gives the student a firm grounding in the sciences, and offers time to pursue internships with chiropractors and other medical professionals. Taking internship opportunities is strongly recommended, as it will make for a stronger application to chiropractic school, helping someone become a chiropractor.
While obtaining a four year degree, prospective chiropractors can research institutions which offer a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree. They should seek out schools accredited by chiropractic associations, and they may want to research the success of students at these schools, seeing how many students are still practicing, and whether they report satisfaction with their education. After several suitable schools have been selected, the student can apply.
Obtaining a DC takes four years, in which the student works through a lot of science-oriented coursework including anatomy, physiology, and pathology. In the fourth year of school, students will have a chance to practice their skills under supervision, an important step on the way to become a chiropractor. After graduating, the student will need to pass exams in order to be allowed to practice.
Continuing education is strongly recommended after someone has become a chiropractor, so that people have access to the latest research, information, and progress in the field. Many chiropractors also belong to professional organizations and subscribe to trade publications to keep up with the field, and some may opt for additional training so that they can focus on special areas of interest, such as sports injuries.
Employment prospects in this field can be good, but chiropractors do need to work hard to establish a practice. Chiropractic is gaining acceptance among many communities, creating a wealth of patients who want the services of a chiropractor, but the failure rate is very high for people who are just starting out. The education itself is a significant investment, and chiropractors who have just started practicing will need to be focused and committed while they build a practice and client base.