Chiropractors are medical professionals who focus on the diagnosis and treatment of problems related to the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine. Chiropractors believe that misalignments in the spine and joints can cause a variety of health problems and they use a variety of techniques to treat these issues.
Chiropractors provide manual treatments such as spinal adjustments and manipulations to relieve pain and improve patient function. They may also perform diagnostic tests such as X-rays or ultrasounds, and recommend additional treatment such as massage therapy or physical therapy to address pain or other issues.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a chiropractor and what it takes to become one yourself.
Chiropractor Job Duties
Chiropractors are responsible for performing a wide range of duties, including:
- Conducting physical examinations to identify musculoskeletal causes of pain and disability, and referring patients to other healthcare professionals when appropriate
- Assessing patients’ need for chiropractic care, evaluating treatment plans, interpreting diagnostic tests, developing care plans, and educating patients about their condition
- Prescribing therapies such as exercise, manipulation of the spine and other joints in the body, massage therapy, spinal injections of medication to relieve pain or reduce inflammation. They may also recommend that patients undergo surgery
- Providing treatment using hands-on techniques, such as spinal manipulation, to alleviate pain and improve mobility in patients with musculoskeletal injuries
- Performing diagnostic evaluations, including taking x-rays, MRIs, or other imaging tests if required
- Receiving continuing education to stay up to date with the latest advances in their field
- Managing low back pain with activator or drop table techniques if one is a certified chiropractor
Chiropractor Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for chiropractors is $71,454. Those earning higher wages tend to work in hospitals, and the highest earners are making over $126,000 per year.
The employment of chiropractors is projected to grow faster than average over the next decade. This growth is due to an increased focus on preventative healthcare. As people live longer, they are more at risk for various kinds of injuries and ailments that can be prevented by regular adjustments and checkups with a chiropractor.
Chiropractor Job Requirements
There are a number of qualifications required to obtain a position as a chiropractor. They include:
Education: Chiropractors are required to hold a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree. This is earned through an accredited chiropractic program, which generally takes four years to complete. The curriculum involves coursework in human anatomy, physiology and pathology, as well as courses specific to chiropractic practice. Most programs also involve clinical training, where students work under the supervision of a licensed practitioner.
Training: After graduation, chiropractor candidates must receive clinical residency training under the supervision of a licensed practitioner. During this time, they have the opportunity to experience a variety of hands-on training at a hospital or medical office setting. They gain real-world experience while working closely with a mentor.
Certifications: Once a chiropractor has completed their educational program, they take exams to earn certification for licensure. While not required, some chiropractors also pursue additional certifications that show their expertise in the field. For example, they may pursue the Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician certification, which demonstrates their knowledge of sports injuries.
The following skills are required for this job:
Physical strength: Chiropractors must be able to lift and manipulate patients who may weigh more than 300 pounds. This is a physically demanding job that also requires long hours and hard work.
Good vision: They must have 20/20 vision in each eye, with or without corrective lenses. They may need to work with delicate tools and equipment and should have good hand-eye coordination.
Communication skills: Chiropractors must be able to communicate effectively with patients, medical assistants, and other members of the healthcare team.
Teamwork skills: Chiropractors must work well as part of a team, since they usually see patients only once every few weeks. They also need to cooperate with physical therapists, massage therapists, and others involved in the patient’s care.
Professionalism: Because chiropractors often work with people who are injured or ill, they must act professionally at all times. They should always keep appointments and maintain confidentiality. They should also dress professionally when working in their offices or treating patients.
Chiropractor Work Environment
Chiropractors often work in private offices, but some work in group practices. They usually have regular business hours, Monday through Friday, with some evening and weekend appointments. They may also travel to meet with patients.
Workers in this profession must be patient and enjoy working with people, because they spend most of their time talking with patients about their health problems. Chiropractors must be able to handle stress well because they are responsible for the well-being of their patients.
Chiropractor Career Path
The hours are long and the field is uncertain in the first two years. Chiropractors often practice alone, so self-motivation is important. The future can be bright, but thirty percent of all chiropractors leave the profession in the first two years.
Five Years On The Job
After five years, chiropractors either have established themselves. Those who remain continue to put in long hours and enjoy greater satisfaction than most practitioners of alternative medicine. They may join a multidisciplinary clinic, set up their own private practice, or even become medical doctors. They generally enjoy more control over their practices than physicians do and still earn good incomes. By this time they should have some significant business skills, such as managing employees and keeping up with Medicare laws and regulations.
Ten Years On The Job
Chiropractors at ten years have experience treating a broad range of ailments and conditions. Many of them open new practices in addition to the ones they have already established; others continue to expand their original practice into other areas that interest them. These individuals generally spend more time supervising staff members and assisting patients than actually performing manipulation techniques themselves. Most chiropractors earn enough money from their practices to live comfortably; however, earnings vary widely from region to region and from doctor to doctor. Satisfaction levels remain high for this medical profession that promotes preventive care through adjustment techniques instead of drugs or surgery. Some practitioners use their practice as a means of giving back to their communities by helping disadvantaged people access health care services they otherwise would not be able to afford.
Here are three trends influencing how chiropractors work. Chiropractors will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Increased Importance of Social Media for Chiropractors
As more patients begin to research chiropractic care online, social media will become an increasingly important marketing tool for chiropractors.
Today, 85% of patients are turning to the internet as a first source of information about healthcare services, which means that businesses will need to make sure they have a strong online presence if they want to attract new clients.
To create an effective website for your practice, focus on providing your potential patients with engaging content and practical advice on how they can incorporate the latest trends into their lives.
Rise of Alternative Health
The rise of alternative health practices has led to an increased need for professionals who can provide care for these treatments. Chiropractors, in particular, have seen a rise in popularity as more people seek out non-traditional treatments.
Currently, chiropractic medicine is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States and is likely to continue on this trajectory given that more Americans are turning away from traditional medical treatment in favor of holistic or alternative forms of healthcare.
Massage therapy is becoming more common in the chiropractic field, largely due to the fact that it has been shown to have a positive impact on many conditions.
In addition, a study by Northwestern University found that massage therapy could reduce the amount of pain and stress experienced by patients with arthritis and may even help lower blood pressure.
How to Become a Chiropractor
1. Planning Your Career
When considering a career as a chiropractor, it is important to think about the type of work environment you want to be in. Some offices are laid-back and casual while others require strict adherence to protocol. As a chiropractor, you will need to spend time building your reputation and making connections in the community. You can do this by attending events where other professionals are present, such as health fairs or charity fundraisers. It’s also important to be active on social media. You will need to be comfortable with having a public profile.
The role of a chiropractor often requires interaction with customers. Friendly and outgoing personalities will fare well in this position. Those who are introverted may find that being behind the scenes works best for them. If you are unsure where your strengths lie, consider volunteering at an organization near you to gain more experience.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for chiropractor positions demonstrate medical training, effective communication skills, strong organizational abilities, and other soft skills like listening, problem-solving abilities, and patient care skills.
When describing your work history, you should focus on relevant experience including clinical experience. If you have any certifications or awards in the field of chiropractic medicine be sure to include these, too. If there are any medical associations that recognize you for your work in the industry list these as well.
3. Applying for Jobs
The first step to finding a job as a chiropractor is building your network. The more people you know, the more likely you are to hear about opportunities before they even appear on the radar of most people. In this case, you can make some friends with physical therapists and doctors, as well as those who work in HR. Remember that they all want to hire someone great, so by making yourself a valuable person within the community, you will be on everyone’s radar.
You should also consider attending a conference or a seminar that relates to your career. You’ll meet a ton of new people and it will help you keep up with the latest trends. After this, try to get in touch with people who already work at chiropractic offices. If you can’t contact them directly, try getting an informational interview with them.
4. Ace the Interview
For a chiropractor interview, you should be ready to discuss how you’ve managed a variety of different situations and what your philosophy of the profession is. Showcasing your communication skills is important, as well as demonstrating your ability to lead a team of professionals and handle difficult cases. Your focus should be on showing how you can help the patient in their journey towards wellness.
You will likely face some challenging questions about your approach to treating patients, so practice thinking on your feet and presenting yourself in a confident manner. If the interview involves the evaluation of a sample treatment plan and patient case, do not feel nervous. Be prepared with several treatment options that you can discuss with your interviewer.