How Long Does It Take to Become a Chiropractor?

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There are about 30,000 chiropractors in the United States. Each year there are between 5000 to 6000 chiropractor admissions. Most people wonder, “How long does it take to become a chiropractor?” It seems like an easy question, right? “I just want to know how long I have to go to school and how many years I’ll have to have studied before opening my Chiropractic clinic.” When you ask Google this question, the average response will tell you that decades of schooling are ahead of you and hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition fees. It might seem intimidating, but it is not as bad as it sounds. The actual process isn’t complicated, and becoming a chiropractor is easier than you’d think.

Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts based on the understanding that good health depends, in part, on a normally functioning nervous system. As the only licensed health care practitioners who focus on the management, preservation, and restoration of the body’s inherent ability to heal, chiropractors are uniquely dedicated to achieving optimal wellness through preventative, natural healthcare. Doctors of Chiropractic are concerned with the preservation and restoration of health and focus particular attention on the subluxation

How Long it Takes to Become a Chiropractor

Chiropractors are licensed healers who specialize in treating patients with problems relating to the musculoskeletal system. It includes bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues like tendons and ligaments. They also treat patients with disorders associated with the nervous system and general health issues that affect overall wellness. Chiropractors may use massage therapy, nutritional counseling, exercise programs, and other alternative medicine therapies to help their patients achieve optimal health. Most chiropractors work in private practice either independently or as part of a group practice. Some may work for hospitals or integrated medical centers. Every state has different licensing requirements for chiropractic practitioners, so check the requirements for your state before enrolling in school.

How long it takes to become a chiropractor varies from school to school and depends on your chosen path.

Undergraduate Study

Individuals interested in becoming chiropractors should seek out pre-med undergraduate programs. If the school has a pre-chiropractic program, that would be ideal. However, anatomy, physiology, and chemistry courses will provide students with a solid foundation for chiropractic study in graduate school. At a minimum, students should complete three years of undergraduate study before applying to chiropractic programs. Many schools require applicants to have completed at least 90 credit hours of undergraduate work prior.

It takes a minimum of 4,200 hours to become a Doctor of Chiropractic. The first two years of chiropractic school focus on the classroom, studying subjects like radiology, orthopedics, and anatomy. Once you complete these years, you will spend your next two years in clinical training. During clinical training, you will gain hands-on experience with actual patients under the supervision of licensed practitioners. You will usually have to treat at least 100 patients before graduating. Typically, four years of undergraduate study (at least 90 hours) plus four academic years (10 quarters or eight semesters) at an accredited chiropractic college. However, some students choose to attend a chiropractic college first, then transfer to a four-year university after two years of study.

To graduate, students must pass National Board Examinations in Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Chemistry, Diagnosis, and X-ray and Regional Exam Boards. The Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) is the accrediting body for all chiropractic colleges. Therefore, any chiropractic programs accredited by CCE will be accepted as meeting the educational requirement for state licensure.

License

Chiropractors need to be licensed in all 50 states, but requirements vary. Most states require at least three years of undergraduate education, and the average requirement is four years. In addition, 45 states and Puerto Rico require at least three years of pre-chiropractic education. The average requirement is six years. Most states also require that you graduate from an accredited program to be licensed. Earning a certification or degree beyond your doctorate can also help you stand out in the job market and advance your career.

The process of becoming a licensed chiropractor takes considerable time and effort. While costs vary across the country, attending a four-year program followed by a four-year residency will likely cost over $100,000, not including living expenses. When it’s all said and done, most aspiring doctors in this field have spent at least ten years on their education before earning the license. Given all of these requirements, it’s clear that becoming a chiropractor is far from easy. But the benefits of the job are substantial enough to make it well worth the time you put in to reach your goal: with meaningful employment opportunities, good pay, and stable job outlooks, chiropractors have ample reasons to be enthusiastic about their prospects.