Chiropractors don’t prescribe medication or give surgery to help patients with their muscular, skeletal and nervous system health problems. Instead, they give nutrition and posture advice and do manipulations or adjustments to various parts of the body to ease pain.
“When most people think of a chiropractor, they think of back pain. But they can deal with headaches, back and neck pain and sports injuries,” says Michael Lynch, director of admissions at New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, N.Y. “They also counsel their patients in areas such as nutrition, posture and ergonomics. All aspirin really does is dull the pain. It doesn’t take care of the cause of the headache, which can be anything from stress to something you ate to having a misalignment.”
Chiropractors also must have strong business and communication skills. “You must be able to speak with your own patients and the public about the profession and the how/why of a treatment plan,” says Melissa Denton, director of admissions at Cleveland Chiropractic College in Overland Park, Kan. “And as a business owner, you will manage a staff and be responsible for all the processes and procedures needed to operate a successful practice.”
To become a chiropractor, you’ll have to earn a doctorate of chiropractic degree from a four-year chiropractic college after finishing an undergraduate degree.
After finishing a chiropractic program, you’ll have to take national board exams. After you pass those, you’ll be able to practice as a chiropractor in nearly all 50 states (more if you take state-specific exams) and many countries.
Many chiropractors go into practice by themselves or in a group. If you go into practice by yourself, you may have to undertake the office administration responsibilities, such as client-base building, that come with owning your own business.
“The income potential is limitless, as you can be your own boss, set your own hours and specialize in many areas, such as pediatrics, sports medicine or chiropractic research,” Denton says.
National average salary: $104,000
Education: Bachelor’s degree, then spend four years in chiropractic school to earn a Doctorate of Chiropractic degree. Some chiropractic colleges allow entry after just two years of undergraduate study. Must also pass state and national exams.
Typical day: Meet with patients to mechanically correct skeletal, muscular and nervous-system pain and problems. Do not prescribe medications or conduct surgeries.
Pursue if: You’d like a field in which you can be self-employed. You are interested in other ways of healing besides using medication.
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