How to become a chiropractor

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Albert Little is a chiropractor who works in a multi-disciplinary practice in Middlesex. Meeting a chiropractor at a school careers evening encouraged him to begin chiropractic training.

What is chiropractic?

Chiropractors diagnose and treat problems with joints, bones and muscles and the effects they have on the nervous system, without drugs or surgery. They work with all the joints of the body, concentrating particularly on the spine. They use their hands to make gentle adjustments to improve the efficiency of the nervous system, releasing the body's natural healing ability.

Who can a chiropractor help?

All kinds of people can benefit from chiropractic treatment, including babies, children, adults, pregnant women and the elderly. I modify my techniques to suit the specific needs of each patient.

What happens when a patient comes to see you?

We start by discussing the patient's main reason for seeking care, as well as other aspects of their lifestyle and general health. I ask questions to help identify the possible causes of the problem, and decide if chiropractic may help.

I also do a physical examination of the patient, which includes a thorough checkup of the spine and other parts of the body.

What about treatment?

I use a range of different techniques. The main emphasis is on gentle manipulation of the joints, but I also use other techniques including soft tissue massage and dry needling (using needles similar to those used in acupuncture for the release of tight muscles). I also teach exercise techniques that can help to prevent some conditions returning.

The first appointment lasts between 30 and 90 minutes. Subsequent visits last 15 to 20 minutes.

How do you market your business?

Most new patients come to me through word of mouth. In this field you can build a strong reputation simply by doing a good job. I also talk to GPs about what I do and they often refer patients to me. I give talks about chiropractic to local groups, which is another useful way of finding patients.

What hours do you work?

I currently work 35 to 40 hours a week in my main practice, but occasionally I also cover for other chiropractors in local clinics in my spare time. Being self employed means I can set my own hours.

How did you train to become a chiropractor?

I did a five-year degree in human sciences and a masters in chiropractic. Core subjects included anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, neurology, pathology and diagnosis. In my last year I worked under supervision at the college's student clinic.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It is very rewarding to help someone in pain, and chiropractic can have an immediate effect on some conditions. Some patients arrive very distressed, but leave smiling!

Every patient I see is different, so each day is interesting and varied. There are opportunities to develop my career as I could specialise in a particular field – like working with pregnant women or children, sports professionals or the elderly.

What qualities make a good chiropractor?

You need to be good with your hands – good co-ordination is helpful. Problem solving skills, maturity and the ability to empathise with people are also important.

What attracted you to study and practise chiropractic?

At school I was involved in looking after people who had arthritis. I heard that chiropractors helped them to cope and manage their problems. I met a chiropractor at a school careers evening and was invited to see his clinic. I was amazed how much he could help people, using only natural techniques without medicines or surgery.

Albert's route to becoming a chiropractor

  • A levels.
  • Degree in Human Sciences.
  • Masters in Chiropractic.
  • Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) after one year in practice.
  • Continuing professional development including a certification in chiropractic paediatrics.

Albert's chiropractor tips

  • Any work experience in a healthcare environment is relevant.

Chiropractor related jobs

Chiropractor salary

  • Most chiropractors are self-employed and incomes vary.
  • A new entrant can earn around £18,000 a year.
  • An experienced chiropractor can earn at least £40,000 a year.
  • Chiropractors working in large practices can earn up to £70,000 a year.

How can I become a chiropractor

  • To work as a chiropractor you must complete a degree course recognised by the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) and register with them.
  • Entry to chiropractic degree courses usually requires at least three A levels/four H grades, normally including biology and chemistry. There are preliminary chiropractic courses for applicants who do not have the usual entry qualifications.
  • The minimum age to start training is 18.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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