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How to Become a Chiropractor

Becoming a chiropractor requires earning a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and getting a state license. Doctor of Chiropractic programs take 4 years to complete and require 3 years of previous undergraduate college education for admission.


Prospective chiropractors are required to have a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree, a postgraduate professional degree that takes 4 years to complete. Admission to D.C. programs requires at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate education, with courses in the liberal arts and laboratory sciences, such as physics, chemistry, and biology. Although not required, many students earn a bachelor’s degree before going on to a chiropractic program. Chiropractors also may gain master’s degrees in related areas, such as nutrition or sports rehabilitation. 

Chiropractic education consists of classroom work in anatomy, physiology, biology, and similar subjects. This work is completed during the first 2 years of a D.C. program. Chiropractic students then get supervised clinical experience, in which they train in spinal manipulation and diagnosis. Following graduation, some chiropractors complete residencies to get additional training in specialty areas, such as chiropractic radiology or pediatrics.

The Council on Chiropractic Education has accredited 15 programs to award D.C. degrees.


All states and the District of Columbia require chiropractors to be licensed. Although specific requirements vary by state, all jurisdictions require the completion of an accredited Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) program.

All jurisdictions also require passing exams, either their own specific exams or those administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners or both. These exams include written tests and, usually, a practical evaluation. States usually require continuing education to keep the license. Check with your state’s board of chiropractic examiners or health department for more specific information on licensure.  

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Chiropractors must be observant and pay attention to details to make proper diagnoses and avoid mistakes that might harm patients.

Dexterity. Because they use their hands to perform spinal manipulation, chiropractors should be skilled and coordinated to perform the necessary therapy effectively.

Empathy. Chiropractors are often treating people who are in pain. They must be sympathetic to their patients' needs.  

Interpersonal skills. Chiropractors must be personable to keep clients coming to them. Also, because chiropractors frequently touch patients in performing therapy, they should be able to able to put their patients at ease.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition