Chiropractic medicine is a healthcare profession that deals with diagnosing and treating mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, including the effects of these disorders on the nervous system and general health. Chiropractic treatments are non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical, focusing on the manipulation or adjustment of the spine and other areas of the body. Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree programs take four years to complete, and are typically entered with a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field. However, the question remains: is chiropractic school worth it, given the expense and intensive study required?
The Pros of Attending Chiropractic School
1. Hands-On Training
Chiropractic programs feature hands-on, immersive training, providing DC students with real-world experience serving patients at clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. In contrast to traditional classroom-based degrees, chiropractic curricula allow students to develop important interpersonal, clinical, and decision-making skills.
2. High Earning Potential
The high earning potential of DCs is a significant pro of chiropractic school. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for chiropractors in the US was $71,410 in 2019. DCs have the opportunity to work in private practice or with sports teams, hospitals, and government agencies in addition to researching, teaching, and providing health and wellness consulting.
3. Positive Job Outlook
The BLS projects that employment of chiropractors will grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. An aging population with increasing life expectancy and demand for complementary healthcare are factors responsible for the steady growth of chiropractic jobs in the US.
4. Patient Care
Chiropractors are known for treating patients in a holistic manner, addressing not only physical symptoms, but also their overall well-being. As chiropractors may see patients for long-term treatment regimens, they have the chance to build an ongoing relationship with their patients and make a meaningful impact on their health and quality of life.
Many DCs have the option to own their own practice, which allows for flexibility and autonomy. DCs can also choose to work in a variety of healthcare settings, from sports teams to hospitals and more, expanding their career opportunities even further.
Cons of Attending Chiropractic School
1. High Cost
Chiropractic school is costly, with students spending upwards of $200,000 on tuition, fees, and other academic costs. Additionally, student loan debt is a major concern for many chiropractic students.
2. Limited Scope of Practice
While DCs can provide comprehensive care for certain conditions, they cannot diagnose or treat all health problems. As such, patients may require referrals to other healthcare providers, such as medical doctors, for more complex health issues. This may limit the scope of practice and career growth.
3. Physical Demands
The physical demands of being a chiropractor can be challenging on the body, with DCs frequently lifting or adjusting patients in awkward positions. Additionally, chiropractors spend many hours on their feet, which can also be a challenge for some.
4. Licensing Requirements
Licensing requirements for chiropractors vary depending on the state, but typically require a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, clinical experience, and passing scores on national board exams. Some states also require continuing education for chiropractors to maintain their licenses.
5. Competitive Market
Chiropractic is a competitive field, requiring DCs to market themselves and their practices effectively to attract patients in increasingly crowded markets. New graduates may also face a challenge in securing a job.
When deciding to attend chiropractic school, there are many factors to consider. While chiropractic medicine offers a promising career with high earning potential, meaningful patient interactions, and an optimistic job outlook, the high cost and physical demands of education and practice, licensing requirements, and competitive job market must also be taken into account.
FAQs – Is Chiropractic School Worth It?
- What education is required to become a chiropractic doctor?
- What is the median salary for chiropractors?
- Is chiropractic school expensive?
- What is the job outlook for chiropractors?
- What are the physical demands of being a chiropractor?
Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree programs take four years to complete, and students typically enter the program with a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field.
The median annual wage for chiropractors in 2019 was $71,410, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Chiropractic school can cost upwards of $200,000 in tuition, fees, and other academic expenses, leading to high student loan debt for many graduates.
The BLS projects that employment of chiropractors will grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Chiropractors spend many hours on their feet and must frequently lift or adjust patients in awkward positions, which can be physically demanding.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020). Chiropractors. U.S. Department of Labor.
- Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards. (2021). Licensing requirements by jurisdiction.
- Palmer College of Chiropractic. (2021). Chiropractic curriculum.