How to Become a Chiropractor


The first step towards becoming a chiropractor, is to determine if this career path is right for you.


Are you kind, empathetic and manually dexterous? Are you interested in the well being of others? Are you interested in a career that allows you to diagnose, treat and prevent musculoskeletal disorders?


If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you may be well suited for this profession!


Below we've outlined how to get started. We've also included helpful supplementary information, such as a job description, an overview of the job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Chiropractor

To become a chiropractor in Canada or the United States, you need to earn a four-year Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. Admission to Doctor of Chiropractic programs typically requires successful completion of at least three years, or 90 credit hours, of post-secondary education.


Although there are no specific requirements as to which field of study prospective D.C. program applicants should pursue during their undergraduate years, they are encouraged to study kinesiology, biology, psychology, anatomy, physical education and chemistry.


During the first two years of Doctor of Chiropractic education programs students typically pursue coursework in anatomy, physiology, biology, and similar subjects. Chiropractic students then get supervised clinical experience, in which they train in spinal manipulation techniques and diagnosis. Some chiropractors may also choose to complete residencies in order to get additional training in specialty areas, such as pediatrics or chiropractic radiology.





General Job Description of a Chiropractor

Chiropractors are responsible for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal system disorders. They focus on manual therapies, such as spinal manipulation, in order to treat these disorders. Chiropractors are also concerned with the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health.



Typical Job Duties

• Confer with patient in order to identify their disorder

• Review the personal and familial health histories of the patient

• Determine appropriate treatment for patient

• Treat patient, which involves a series of spinal adjustments and soft tissue therapies

• Refer patient to other health professionals when necessary

• Recommend dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as other supportive treatments



Licensing Requirements

All provinces and states in Canada and the United States require chiropractors to be licensed. Although specific requirements vary by jurisdiction, they all require the completion of an accredited Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) program.


All jurisdictions also require candidates to pass licensing exams, either their own specific exams or those administered by the Canadian Chiropractic Examining Board (Canada) or the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (United States). These exams include written tests and, usually, a practical evaluation. In order to maintain their licenses, chiropractors are also required to complete continuing education courses.



Who Employs Them?

Self-Employment: Chiropractors most often work as sole proprietors in their own chiropractic clinics. These chiropractors may require a significant amount of initial capital in order to open their clinics.


Associate: Chiropractors may also work as associates for the clinics of other chiropractors. These chiropractors may be compensated based on the amount of patients they treat in a day, or on an annual salary basis.


Consulting: Chiropractors may offer their services in the areas of occupational and industrial health, athletic injuries, x-ray interpretation, orthopedics, rehabilitation, nutrition, geriatrics or pediatrics care.



Working Environment for Chiropractors

Setting: Typically chiropractors work in a clinic setting. They may share space with other health and wellness professionals, such as massage therapists, physiotherapists or family physicians.


Work Conditions: Chiropractors are required to stand for much of their day, in order to assess and treat their patients. They also require a certain degree of upper body strength in order to perform specific chiropractic procedures and assist patients with movement. 





Personal Characteristics Needed to Succeed

In order to be effective practitioners, chiropractors need the following characteristics:


Detail oriented: In order to avoid making mistakes that can seriously harm their patients, chiropractors must be observant, and must pay attention while performing assessments and administering treatment.


Manual dexterity: Chiropractors need to be manually dexterous and coordinated in order to perform spinal manipulation and administer other forms of chiropractic therapy.


Empathy: Chiropractors must often treat people who are in varying degrees of pain. They must be sympathetic to their patients' needs.


Interpersonal skills: In order to maintain a client base, chiropractors must be personable. Also, because chiropractors frequently touch patients in performing therapy, they should be able to able to put their patients at ease.


An interest in lifelong learning: As the science of chiropractic continues to evolve, chiropractors need to maintain current knowledge of developments in the field in order to maintain their license.



How Much Do Chiropractors Earn?

Salary - Canada: According to the Aboriginal Health and Human Resources Initiative, the average salary of chiropractors in Canada is $60,000 to $75,000 per year.


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of chiropractors is $71,490 per year.


The salary levels of chiropractors can vary widely. As many chiropractors are self-employed, their salary level is often dependent on factors such as how many patients they have, how low their overhead costs are, where they are located and other factors.


The salary of chiropractors who work as associates in a clinic they don’t own have salaries that are dependent on such factors as their level of education and experience, the amount of business they bring in to the clinic and many others.



Job Opportunities - Current Postings

Our job board below has "Chiropractor" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, when available:




Similar Occupational Profiles in Our System

Listed below are similar careers in our database. We've chosen these because they require many of the same skills, interests and competencies, and involve many of the same responsibilities.


Massage Therapist


Sports Medicine Physician 


Exercise Physiologist

Osteopathic Physician




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a chiropractor.



How to Become a Chiropractor - By Dr. Janis Laking



Occupations in Alberta:Chiropractor.” (March 9, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 6, 2019.

Healthcare:Chiropractors.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 6, 2019.

Careers:Becoming a Chiropractor.” (n.d.). Federation of Canadian Chiropractic website. Retrieved November 6, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Chiropractor

The 'Relevant Fields of Study' section below lists areas of academic focus that pertain to this career. Scholarships matched to those fields of study can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent jump off point for becoming a chiropractor:


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