Qualifications and Credentials that Chiropractic Doctors Require

Many people who are considering trying out chiropractic care may feel hesitant because they are unfamiliar with the requirements and qualifications chiropractors must meet in order to comply with state and federal laws. Because chiropractors are not M.D.s, people tend to make the inaccurate assumption that they are not “real” doctors, though this is very far from the truth. In this article, we will discuss the type of education and other requirements chiropractors undergo to help you understand how qualified a chiropractor is to treat you.

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Chiropractic doctors must undergo extensive education and training, plus achieve appropriate licensure and certifications to practice in the United States.

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Similar to M.D.s, chiropractors undergo years of formal education. In fact, their education paths are almost identical. Both M.D.s and D.C.s begin their education in an undergraduate program. Here they have the ability to focus their studies on any subject they choose. Upon graduation, M.D.s head off to medical school, while D.C.s go on to attend chiropractic school. Like medical school, chiropractic school is highly competitive and difficult to get in to, however, while there are 141 accredited medical schools in the United States, there are only 15 approved programs according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both programs take four years to complete. While a chiropractor is in chiropractic school, all of his studies are focused on the anatomy and physiology of the human spine and nervous system. He’ll spend part of the program learning in a classroom or laboratory environment, and another participating in clinical training. Clinical training takes two years, and during this time, a chiropractor works directly in the field alongside licensed professionals.


As with M.D.s, D.C.s are required to obtain licensure before they are allowed to work with patients on their own. In order to earn a license, a chiropractor must take and pass an exam to prove his competency. Some states offer their own chiropractic licensing exam, others use one issued by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, and some states require candidates to take both. These exams test a chiropractor’s knowledge of all aspects of chiropractic medicine, including diagnostic imaging, chiropractic technique and case management.


Many chiropractors choose to earn voluntary certification in order to showcase their expertise in specialized areas of chiropractic medicine. For example, the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians offers the Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician/Practitioner (CCSP) and the Diplomate American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (DACBSP) credentials for chiropractors specializing in sports injury and chiropractic.

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