“How do I become a chiropractor? How long does it take? What degrees do I need? What steps do I need to take?”
You may think it’s hard to become a chiropractor. It certainly is a challenge. You have to master the chiropractic science and techniques and pass exams, certifications, and licensing before you can begin. However, with some research, preparation, and focus, you can have a tremendously rewarding career.
What Does a Chiropractor Do?
Chiropractors optimize the function of the nervous and skeletal systems. They manipulate and adjust the spine to alleviate pain and other symptoms. In addition, a chiropractor’s work addresses disorders in bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues, which affect patients’ overall well-being and contribute to declining health.
“Chiropractic medicine utilizes a natural and drugless approach” as a form of alternative or complementary health care. Spinal adjustments and other physical treatments, not drugs, provide the pain relief patients need. But despite significant differences, chiropractic and medical practices can be combined to produce the best outcome for the patient.
The Steps Toward Becoming a Chiropractor
How long does it take to become a chiropractor? It can take about eight years, from college to job. You will be taking these steps to become a chiropractor:
- Earn a college degree
- Attend an accredited chiropractic school
- Earn a Doctor of Chiropractic Certification (DC)
- Obtain a state license
- Choose a specialty
- Land a job
Make a Smart Early Decision
Once you have decided to become a chiropractor, make a plan. What about money? Your current job? College courses? Support from your family and friends? It’s hard to become a chiropractor, but if you plan well, you can overcome challenges.
Let’s take a closer look at those steps to becoming a chiropractor.
Earn a College Degree
First, you need a bachelor’s degree. Each chiropractic school has its own set of requirements, but most look for science coursework such as biology, chemistry, physics, as well as exercise science, kinesiology, and anatomy. These provide a solid foundation for your chiropractic studies.
What if you didn’t major in science in college? You can take science classes such as organic chemistry, physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology at a nearby university.
Now you’re ready to apply to DC programs.
Attend a Chiropractic School
Apply to accredited schools with programs that appeal to you and can accommodate your needs. Three accredited chiropractic colleges closest to New Jersey are:
- D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York
- Northeast College of Health Sciences in Seneca Falls, New York
- University of Bridgeport School of Chiropractic in Bridgeport, Connecticut
The DC degree can take four to five years to complete, depending on the school and your own timetable. Early years focus on anatomy, physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, pediatrics, neuroanatomy, spinal anatomy, and radiology. Later years focus on clinical experience in spinal assessment, techniques, diagnoses, and business management.
Earn a Doctor of Chiropractic Certification
Starting while in school, you will take a set of examinations from the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE):
- Part I – anatomy, physiology and other sciences
- Part II – chiropractic practice, diagnoses, and other specialized topics
- Part III – case history and management, techniques
- Part IV – advanced case management and techniques
Once you have passed, congratulations! You have earned your DC degree! You can now apply for a license.
Become Licensed and Specialize
You must be licensed in the states in which you practice. Armed with your DC certificate and passing scores in the NBCE exams, you can apply for your license. Each state may have its additional exams and requirements, though New Jersey, for example, “recognizes the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners’ four-part examination as their state examination.
You will also need a specialty. What sparks your interest? Specialties include:
- Occupational health
Keep your eyes open for what interests you most among these and any other specialties you discover. Then, choose what will be most fulfilling.
Furthermore, keep in mind that if you ever plan to open your practice, you will need to learn how to start and maintain a business. This requires knowledge of managing and leading staff, finance, effective communication, marketing, records management, legal matters, state and local laws and regulations, and more. You can take business classes at a local university. Also, look into the Small Business Administration’s valuable, free resources that help you plan, launch, manage, and grow your business.
The doctors of Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center have traveled their unique journeys.
Dr. Gregory Doerr graduated from Rutgers University with a BS in Biology and from New York Chiropractic College. A Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician, he has developed techniques for taping injuries, has lectured nationally and internationally on various topics, and has worked with college and professional sports teams.
Dr. Megan K. Doyle is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport Chiropractic College and has her MBA from Western New England University. In addition, doctor Doyle completed a year of clinical training at various hospitals and community centers. A former athlete, she specializes in sports.
Dr. Alex Farinola is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport School of Chiropractic in Connecticut and received his undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from Rutgers University. He spent over five years in the healthcare industry while completing his graduate studies.
There are many roads on the journey to becoming a chiropractor. If you’re asking yourself, “How do I become a chiropractor? What are the requirements?” A little research on your part will go a long way. Prepare yourself, apply to schools, then apply yourself to the program.
You’re on the road to a fulfilling career!
At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services!