Chiropractic isn’t just about cracking your spine into place; chiropractors specialise in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal problems (e.g. conditions affecting bones, joints, muscles and nerves). Their area of expertise is the spine, which is why you’ll never find a chiropractor too far from a model of a spine.
Chiropractors adopt a holistic approach to treating patients, with a lengthy initial consultation in which patients will be quizzed about their lifestyle, work and exercise. They’ll often treat back, shoulder, neck, joint and posture problems by using manual therapy (e.g. their hands). They might also provide a level of counselling, support and advice in order to take a preventative approach to health problems.
This form of treatment is non-invasive and doesn’t involve drugs as chiropractors believe in the power of the body to naturally heal problems.
However, a good chiropractor will recognise that it is a complementary therapy and will refer the patient to other healthcare practitioners if need be.
Salary & benefits
Salaries vary across the profession. A newly qualified practitioner working in a private practice might be paid a very basic salary on top of which they’ll receive commission for the client fees that they generate for the practice.
Starting salaries hover round the £20,000 mark, rising with experience to £40,000. Many experienced practitioners become self-employed and could net as much as £50,000 to £80,000 a year if their practice is a success.
A chiropractor’s working hours will usually be dependent on their clients. Mostly, they’ll work a traditional working week (e.g. nine-to-five), although they might have to work slightly later or earlier to accommodate clients.
Chiropractors must be registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC). In order to do so, they must have graduated from a GCC recognised course, of which there are only three in the UK.
These Master of Chiropractic degrees last between four and five years and cover a whole range of topics, such as orthopaedics, anatomy and diagnostics, and clinical training.
To gain entrance to a course, most applicants will need three science A-Levels or equivalent. There is a Foundation Certificate in Chiropractic that applicants can take in lieu of the usual entry qualifications. Most entrants are mature students and the vast majority of chiropractors are over the age of 30.
Chiropractors need to be:
- Physically and mentally fit
- Have great communication and interpersonal skills, including the sensitivity and empathy needed to deal with patients
- Be analytical and logical.
Training & progression
After completing a recognised course, trainee chiropractors must have a year of supervised clinical work before they can register with the GCC. To keep registered with the GCC, chiropractors must undergo yearly continuing professional development (CPD).
Career development comes with experience and an established client list. Many chiropractors go on to set up their own practice or join a group practice.