What is a chiropractor?

A chiropractor is a healthcare professional who focuses on a patient’s neuromusculoskeletal system- bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. As a chiropractor, you’ll help manage conditions such as back and neck pain through the use of spinal adjustments and maintain good alignment of the spine.

Chiropractic focuses on the body’s ability to self heal and includes other treatments such as nutrition and exercise. Through improvements of the neuromusculoskeletal system such as spinal adjustments and joint realignment, chiropractors believe that this will improve the function of other systems throughout the body

What does a chiropractor do?

Typically, as a chiropractor you’ll conduct examinations of a patient by looking at the spine’s position and muscle reflexes as well as performing tests and x-rays to diagnose the patient’s conditions and come up with a treatment plan.

Day-to-day duties may include:

  • Patient examinations
  • Inspecting posture and spine abnormalities
  • Performing adjustments on patients
  • Creating plans for patients including exercise, stretching and sleep techniques
  • Using alternative treatments such as acupuncture and massage therapy
  • Referring patients to specialists 

Chiropractic is an extremely rewarding career choice, with the opportunity to specialise in further areas of interest such as sport, acupuncture, veterinary chiropractors and nutrition.

What skills are required to become a chiropractor?

A chiropractor is a client facing role and so there are some key skills and characteristics that you’ll need to be successful in this role:

  • Excellent communication skills- as you will be facing clients day to day, it is important you have strong interpersonal skills to communicate procedures to them clearly
  • Extensive Knowledge of the human body- throughout training for your qualifications you will learn all about the human body and the role chiropractic has on the body
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm
  • Attention to detail
  • Sensitivity and understanding to show empathy with a range of patients
  • Strong observational skills

What qualifications are needed to be a chiropractor in the UK?

In order to become a chiropractor, you’ll need to complete a 4 year degree or a postgraduate master’s course that’s recognised by the General Chiropractic Council. 3 years will be spent studying and 1 year under supervision in a clinical setting.  The General Chiropractic Council (GCC) is responsible for regulating and setting standards in chiropractic education to ensure that patients can be confident they’re receiving a safe level of care.

Currently, there are 5 UK educational establishments offering approved degree courses in chiropractors. Entry requirements include five GCSEs, including English and maths, and three A-Levels including science. To get on the course it is useful to find work experience with a chiropractor before applying for the course.

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Step to become a chiropractor:

If you’re thinking of becoming a chiropractor, here are some of the key steps you will need to follow to make it your career.

Step 1: Get a chiropractic degree: 

To train to be a chiropractor a degree in Chiropractic is required. You can gain this qualification either by a 4 year undergraduate course or postgraduate course. If you’ve chosen to take on a postgraduate course, it’s ideal if your previous undergraduate degree relates to the sciences or medicine in some capacity.

Step 2: Gain work experience:

In addition to your academic degree, you’re also required to have at least 1 year of work experience with a chiropractor. By working in a clinical environment you can learn on the job by assisting a chiropractor. Duties may include shadowing a chiropractor to learn how to carry out a patient examination and make a diagnosis, reading blood tests, and speaking to patients about their concerns.

Step 3: Register with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC):

Another requirement to work as a practising chiropractor is to register with the GCC. Registration involves a thorough application process and includes a series of tests and interviews to ensure you’re competent to become a chiropractor. 

To register with the GCC, you’ll also need to:

  • Declare any criminal convictions
  • Provide a healthcare report from your doctor
  • Provide proof of professional indemnity insurance
  • Provide a character reference

Step 4: Secure a  job as a chiropractor:

After you’ve successfully registered with the GCC, you’re able to start practising as a chiropractor. You can set up your own practice or join another clinic. If you plan to start your own business you’ll need to secure office space, equipment, staff etc and you’ll need to make sure that it adheres to all of the health and safety guidelines. 

How much does a chiropractor earn in the UK?

The average salary for a chiropractor in the UK is £36,682 per year. Entry level positions start at £30,000 while more experienced workers make up to £62,500. Salary can also vary depending on whether you set up a practice on your own or if you work as part of a team. Your salary will typically rise with experience as you’ll be able to charge more per session and you’re likely to build up a bigger client base.

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