The chiropractic career path
Becoming a chiropractor can be a very rewarding and fulfilling career, offering variety, flexibility and excellent career prospects.
According to the World Health Organisation, ‘chiropractic is one of the most popularly used forms of manual therapy’, and with around 3000 chiropractors practicing in the UK, chiropractic is a profession that is growing year on year.
It’s not difficult to understand the growing popularity of chiropractic as a career option. As well as being able to help people on a daily basis, chiropractors can also enjoy flexibility, variety in their day to day roles, and excellent career prospects. Read on to find out if a chiropractic career is right for you.
What do chiropractors do?
So, what exactly is chiropractic and what does it involve? Generally speaking, chiropractors treat patients for a range of conditions such as back, shoulder and neck pain using a combination of manipulation, massage and rehabilitative exercises.
A chiropractor will first meet with a client to discuss their symptoms and health problems in detail, before carrying out a physical examination, which can include blood tests and x-rays if needed. They will then design a personalised treatment programme for the client, and provide advice and guidance on how the client can support their own recovery through lifestyle, diet, or exercise.
Every client is different, so it is a very varied occupation, and one that involves daily contact with a lot of different people.
Training and qualifications
To become a qualified chiropractor in the UK, you need to complete a degree course that is recognised by the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) - the UK regulatory body for the chiropractic profession. Currently, there are only three institutions within the UK that offer GCC-recognised courses; the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic in Bournemouth, McTimoney College of Chiropractic and the University of South Wales.
A chiropractic degree lasts between four and five years and provides a thorough grounding in the systems and working of the human body, as well as practical training in adjustment and supervised training in a clinical setting. Entry for these courses typically include three A-Levels, two of which should be in a science-related subject. You are also expected to have some experience of chiropractic treatment, so before applying, try approaching local chiropractors to see if they could offer you some work experience.
Is it right for me?
To become a successful chiropractor, you need a wide variety of skills in your locker. In order to correctly diagnose and treat ailments, you will need to have strong observational and problem solving abilities, as well as strong understanding of chiropractic theory. As a chiropractor, the majority of your job will involve dealing with patients, so the ability to be empathetic and good communication and interpersonal skills are also essential. If you plan on being self-employed, as many chiropractors are, you will also need to possess business acumen and the ability to work under your own initiative.
To fit around the needs of patients, many chiropractors work evenings and/or weekends, so this is something worth taking into account when deciding if a chiropractic career is right for you.
The career prospects for qualified chiropractors are extremely good, with 95% finding employment within six months of graduation, and with graduate salaries 50% higher than the average. Starting salaries tend to lie somewhere between £20,000 and £30,000, which rise as you gain experience and clients. An experienced chiropractor earns around £50,000 per year, while someone with a successful practice that employs several people could expect a salary of somewhere between £80,000 and £100,000.
Chiropractic jobs are extremely varied, so you can choose a career path that best suits your interests and aspirations. You can choose to work for an established practice, or set out in business on your own, which gives you the flexibility of setting your own working practices and working hours. Many chiropractors also choose to specialise in a particular area, such as pregnancy, paediatrics or sport - with potential opportunities available in football and rugby teams, Formula 1, and even the Olympic Games!
What’s more, the majority of UK chiropractic qualifications are recognised abroad, so you could even choose to practice in another country if you wished to.
Becoming a chiropractor involves a lot of hard work and dedication, but the end results are usually worth the effort. Wherever you end up – working for somebody else, owning your own practice, or working for a top sports team – chiropractic can offer you a career that is both fulfilling and rewarding.