How to become a Chiropractor. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about Chiropractor careers.
What does a Chiropractor do?
As a chiropractor you would manipulate joints, bones and soft tissue (often with a particular focus on the spine) to help clients control pain or prevent injuries from reoccurring. You would use your hands (rather than medication or surgery) to make adjustments that can improve joint and muscle function and how this relates to the nervous system.
Your clients may be experiencing discomfort as a result of an accident, stress, illness or lack of exercise. The most common problems you would be presented with include:
- neck, back and should pain
- sciatica and leg problems
- issues surrounding sports injuries
- poor posture and associated joint and muscle pain.
You may also work with clients suffering from migraine or asthma, and babies with colic.
During your first session with a client, you would make sure their condition was suitable for treatment. Once you had decided to work with them, you would:
- discuss in detail their symptoms and health problems
- carry out an examination, sometimes using x-rays or blood tests
- take into account any previous diagnoses made by medical practitioners
- design a programme of treatment to meet the individual needs of the patient.
You may also give clients health promotion advice covering lifestyle, diet and exercise to reinforce their recovery.
You would usually set your own working hours, as a self-employed chiropractor. However, to meet the needs of clients, you may need to cover some weekends and evenings.
You could be based in a health clinic or another therapeutic environment. You could work outdoors at sporting events and you might also travel to clients’ homes.
How much does a Chiropractor earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Starting salaries for chiropractors can be around £23,000 a year, depending on the number of clients and location of practice.
- With experience this may rise to between £33,000 and £43,000 a year.
Many chiropractors are self-employed and charge an hourly or sessional rate of between £25 and £60 an hour.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You will need to be registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) before you can work as a chiropractor. To join the register you need to complete a GCC accredited degree (or Masters qualification) in Chiropractic. See the GCC website for a list of approved courses.
To get on to an approved degree you will usually need:
- at least five GCSEs (A-C) including science-based subjects
- three A levels, preferably including biology, human biology, physics or chemistry.
If you do not have the qualifications mentioned above, you may be able to take a one-year preliminary course (offered by all GCC approved institutions).
You may be at an advantage when applying for a course if you have paid or voluntary experience in a caring role. Contact the voluntary services coordinator or manager at your local NHS Trust (listed on the NHS Choices website) for further advice.
- NHS Choices
A driving licence would be a useful for this work.
Training and Development
Once you are on a GCC approved course, you will study subjects such as:
- anatomy and physiology
- orthopaedics and physiotherapy
- human structure and function
- biochemistry and biomechanics
- general medicine and internal medicine
- diagnostic skills and methods
- practical, manual skills and chiropractic techniques.
You will also spend time on supervised clinical placements, working directly with clients.
If you wish to join the British Chiropractic Association after your degree, you need to spend a year working under the supervision of an experienced and qualified chiropractor. You could arrange to work as an associate chiropractor within an existing practice or organise supervised sessions whilst working on a self-employed basis.
As a qualified chiropractor, you need to keep your skills and knowledge up to date and maintain your registration with the GCC, which involves completing a minimum of 30 hours’ continuing professional development (CPD) activity each year. You could use this opportunity to follow a specialist area of interest, such as sports injuries or working with children. See the GCC website in for details.
Skills and Knowledge
- a genuine interest in the health and wellbeing of clients
- the ability to inspire trust and confidence
- the ability to develop empathy with clients
- good listening skills with the ability to understand clients’ needs
- a logical approach with good problem solving skills
- good powers of observation
- co-ordination and a steady hand for delicate work
- a keen interest in science, particularly biology
- a good understanding of when to refer clients to a qualified medical doctor
- commercial skills for running a business.
Public interest in this area of work is increasing and there are now more than 2,000 chiropractors working in the UK.
You are likely to find most opportunities are as a self-employed practitioner. You could provide services through the NHS, work with other chiropractors in a group practice or in a health clinic offering a wide range of therapies. To be successful, you need to build a sound reputation and client base and be prepared to market your business, which may involve working long hours at first.
Networking with other practitioners and complementary therapists, such as osteopaths and acupuncturists, is also likely to help you build your client list and may give you the opportunity to work as a locum or use a number of clinics to treat clients.
GCC registration and qualifications are recognised internationally, which would allow you to work overseas.