While chiropractors are both degreed and legitimate medical doctors that are required to have the same level of education and training as many other types of medical professionals, their practice is still often viewed with a great deal of skepticism by both the general public and much of the mainstream medical community. In fact, even the crowd-sourced information site Wikipedia remains laced with skeptical comments about the profession, even going so far as to call it a type of “pseudoscientific complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)”. In spite of the general public perception of chiropractors, however, the practice is gaining recognition as a legitimate treatment protocol for a number of ailments directly related to spinal alignment and injuries. Because the spine plays such a critical role in overall health and wellness, a visit to a chiropractor may actually help alleviate any number of other health issues ranging from asthma and allergies to chronic migraines.
EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND CERTIFICATION
Chiropractors are required to obtain a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree as well as be licensed by the state in which they wish to practice. In 2017, there were 15 D.C. programs available on 18 campuses across the U.S., which were accredited by the Council n Chiropractic Education. Most D.C. programs take 4 years to complete and require at least 90 hours of undergraduate coursework to have been completed prior to admission. Some programs require a bachelor’s degree for entry, which includes coursework in a range of subjects including physics, chemistry, and biology.
D.C. programs generally consist of a mix of coursework in subjects such as anatomy, biology, and physiology as well as the completion of a number of supervised clinical hours. Upon graduation, all prospective chiropractors are required to pass all four parts of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam in order to be licensed. Some states also require applicants to pass a background check and some even require that they pass certain state-specific law exams, called jurisprudence exams. Additional licensing requirements vary from state to state but all states also require licensed chiropractors to take continuing education classes in order to maintain their licensure.
The majority of chiropractors own their own practice or work in a dedicated chiropractic clinic, while a few works in the offices of a physician. Practice sizes can vary greatly depending on how aggressively chiropractors pursue clientele. As a result, there is a fairly broad salary range among chiropractors with the lowest 10% of earners making just under $35,000 annually and the highest 10% making close to $150,000 annually and the median income coming in at around $71,000 annually.
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The anticipated demand for chiropractors is expected to grow by 7% between 2018 and 2028, which is slightly higher than the national average across all professions.