What you need to know about how to become a chiropractor and help treat musculoskeletal conditions.
Chiropractors specialise in diagnosing and treating neuromuscular disorders, particularly those related to the spine. They provide non-invasive and drug-free treatments to restore proper alignment, improve mobility and promote natural healing.
These professionals develop personalised treatment plans for their patients in various settings, including private practice and wellness centres. They address a range of conditions like back pain, neck pain, headaches and joint issues. They also emphasise preventive care and health education.
As awareness of the benefits of chiropractic care grows, so does the demand for skilled chiropractors in Australia. This article provides valuable information about the educational pathway, registration requirements and practical experience needed to be successful in this field.
What does a chiropractor do?
Chiropractors primarily focus on assessing and treating conditions related to spinal health and function. They perform manual adjustments and utilise other therapeutic techniques to improve musculoskeletal alignment in order to alleviate pain.
People commonly visit a chiropractor for help with joint pain, sprains and strains, repetitive strain injury (RSI), whiplash, overuse injuries, sport-related injuries, arthritis, and restricted movement of the neck, back and shoulders.
Chiropractors work closely with other healthcare professionals, like physical therapists and exercise physiologists, to provide comprehensive and integrated care for their patients.
Chiropractors also undertake continuing professional development (CPD) to stay up to date with the latest research and advancements in chiropractic techniques. This ensures they always deliver the most effective treatment to their patients.
Chiropractor roles and responsibilities
As specialised healthcare providers, chiropractors hold a diverse range of roles and responsibilities:
- improve the function of the spine and musculoskeletal system using manual adjustments and other non-invasive techniques like massage and heat/cold therapy
- diagnose and manage conditions like back pain, neck pain, headaches and joint issues
- order diagnostic tests and conduct routine spinal check-ups and assessments offer advice on posture, exercise and lifestyle changes to help patients maintain musculoskeletal health
- manage chronic musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis and repetitive strain injuries design long-term care plans, monitor patient progress and adjust treatment strategies
- refer patients to other health professionals where necessary
- engage in ongoing education to remain up to date with the latest research, advancements in chiropractic techniques and best practices
How much do chiropractors earn in Australia?
The annual chiropractor salary in Australia is approximately $90,000. Chiropractors who establish their own private practices may have the potential to earn higher incomes based on their patient base and business success. Chiropractic jobs can be found on sites like Indeed, LinkedIn and SEEK.
Over 300,000 Australians visit a chiropractor each week, and demand is expected to remain strong. A 19.2 per cent job growth is projected over the next five years as more Australians seek non-invasive and drug-free approaches to managing musculoskeletal conditions.
Chiropractors in Australia have a range of career paths to choose from, including private practice, working with athletes and sports teams, or research and academic positions. There are also opportunities within government agencies like WorkSafe and non-governmental organisations like rehabilitation centres.
In addition to financial rewards, being a chiropractor offers the opportunity to build long-term relationships in your local community and work closely with patients to improve overall wellbeing and quality of life.
4 steps to becoming a chiropractor
The path to becoming a chiropractor is both fulfilling and demanding. The entire process takes approximately five years. Follow these four steps to become a chiropractor:
- Assess whether a career as a chiropractor is right for you
Important skills for a chiropractor include manual dexterity, physical strength and stamina, problem-solving, communication and the ability to build rapport and listen actively to patients. These skills can develop over time, but consider whether you have the motivation to build these skills and succeed in the field.
- Undertake the required education
Begin by completing an undergraduate degree in chiropractic science or a related field focusing on human anatomy, biomechanics or physiology.
Courses include a Bachelor of Chiropractic Science and approved double degrees such as a Bachelor of Science in Chiropractic Science / Bachelor of Clinical Chiropractic and a Bachelor of Health Science / Bachelor of Applied Science (Chiropractic).
This process usually involves three to five years of full-time study.
After completing the undergraduate program, students should undertake a two-year postgraduate degree, such as a Master of Clinical Chiropractic.
- Obtain registration and licensure
After completing your education, you will need to register with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Registration should be renewed each year by completing the required 20 hours of Continuing Professional Development (such as courses, workshops and conferences), as well as maintaining professional indemnity insurance and recency of practice.
- Pursue further specialisation and employment
Once registered and licenced, you can explore job opportunities in chiropractic clinics, private practices and healthcare centres. Networking with other chiropractors and attending relevant professional events can also help you find employment opportunities in the field.
While not required, you can pursue further specialisation or advanced certifications in specific areas of chiropractic care, such as sports chiropractic or paediatric chiropractic.
A career in chiropractics
Becoming a chiropractor is a rewarding journey that presents excellent opportunities for personal and professional development. Chiropractors serve as essential healthcare providers, promoting wellness within the community. They play a crucial role in delivering comprehensive neuromuscular care to patients.
By considering your professional goals, pursuing a comprehensive education in chiropractic medicine, obtaining hands-on experience, and seeking chiropractic job opportunities, you can embark on a successful career as a chiropractor and deliver a real benefit to the musculoskeletal health and overall wellbeing of fellow Australians.