Career Profile: Chiropractor
Why Is Chiropractics a Job of Tomorrow?
Chiropractors provide a valuable service in working with those who are suffering from back pain, a common complaint among individuals who have occupations that require heavy lifting or long hours at a desk. Pain relief is vastly important to improve job performance and satisfaction. Employment opportunities for chiropractors are expected to rise 14 percent by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for chiropractors is $65,220.
What Does a Chiropractor Do?
Chiropractors work with patients who are suffering from pain related to the musculoskeletal system. Patients may have chronic back or joint pain, ranging in severity from mild discomfort to debilitating. Chiropractors work on the principle that misalignments of the spine or joints can interfere with the nervous system, causing discomfort and even lowering the body’s resistance to disease. Chiropractors assess each patient’s situation. They record the patient’s medical history, conduct physical and neurological examinations, suggest X-rays and ultrasound imaging if needed, and may order other laboratory tests to aid in the diagnosis of the patient’s condition. Most chiropractors then create a treatment plan, which may include manual manipulation of the spine and joints, water therapy, heat therapy and acupuncture. Chiropractors also often offer lifestyle advice to patients, such as stress management techniques and regular exercise to help alleviate their pain.
What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Chiropractor?
Chiropractors must earn a doctor of chiropractic degree from an accredited chiropractic program to practice, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Prospective chiropractors may apply for acceptance into a chiropractic program after completing two to four years of undergraduate work. The chiropractic degree program lasts four years, and students study such topics as anatomy, physiology and pathology. The program emphasizes both classroom and laboratory work. Students also have the option to specialize in orthopedics, sports injuries and other niche chiropractic fields to increase their marketability. For licensure, graduates of chiropractic programs must satisfactorily complete a four-part test administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Most states also require chiropractors to complete a certain number of continuing education hours annually to retain their licenses.