You'll need a chiropractic degree and must be registered with the General Chiropractic Council to be able to practice as a chiropractor

As a chiropractor you'll use physical manipulation, massage and rehabilitative exercise to relieve pain in patients, improve their mobility and treat a range of conditions, including:

  • arthritic pain including osteoarthritis
  • back, shoulder and neck pain
  • joint stiffness, pain and discomfort
  • muscular aches
  • sports injuries.

You'll use your hands to apply a specific force to free joints in the spine, or other joints of the body that aren't working correctly, to get patients back to full health and movement.

You'll take a holistic approach to treating patients, looking at the underlying causes and not just the symptoms. Treatment is designed to encourage the body's natural healing process and often includes advice on lifestyle, exercise and posture.

Most chiropractors work within private practice on a self-employed basis as there is limited availability to work within the NHS.


As a chiropractor, you'll need to:

  • take detailed medical histories from your patients, including information on previous injuries, surgery, general health and lifestyle
  • conduct physical examinations, focusing on the spine and posture, and noting the range of movement
  • take and interpret x-rays, if necessary
  • check blood pressure and perform other medical tests as needed
  • assess symptoms, make a diagnosis and explain it to your patient
  • establish an appropriate treatment or management plan with your patient
  • perform adjustments of the joints of the spine and extremities using your hands or specialist equipment
  • perform soft tissue therapies, such as massage
  • educate and advise patients on rehabilitation exercises to aid long-term recovery and techniques to ensure health is maintained
  • keep accurate and confidential clinical records
  • liaise with other healthcare practitioners and refer patients requiring other medical attention.

As most chiropractors are self-employed, you'll also need to carry out activities related to running a business.


  • As you'll typically be self-employed your salary will depend on how much you charge and how successful your business is. Fees for patients are usually between £30 and £80 per session. This varies depending on the length of the session and your location.
  • 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. Salaries may also be affected by any links you have with GP practices and other healthcare professionals, as this may supply referrals.
  • Financial rewards can be good if you have the right combination of skills and experience and own a large practice employing others.

Building a successful private practice can take time and you may need to consider having a second job to begin with until you have an established client base.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Your working hours will reflect your clients' needs and many practices open early in the morning, in the evening and at weekends.

The majority of chiropractors are self-employed, allowing you flexibility on the hours you work. Part-time work is possible.

What to expect

  • You may work alone, with other chiropractors in group practices, or alongside related practitioners such as physiotherapists, acupuncturists or massage therapists.
  • Opportunities exist throughout the UK, with practices in both urban and rural areas. You can also work from home if you have the space.
  • The work is both physically and mentally demanding, but also rewarding as you see the progress and improvement of patients.
  • Regulation of the profession includes a strong code of ethics. Confidentiality and discretion are important.
  • Some chiropractors work at several practices, so you may need to travel between practices. There may be opportunities to work abroad as the majority of UK chiropractic qualifications are recognised overseas.


The chiropractic profession in the UK is regulated by the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) and you must be registered with them in order to lawfully practice as a chiropractor.

To be eligible to register, you must successfully complete a GCC-approved degree from one of the five following institutions:

  • AECC University College in Bournemouth offers a four to five-year, depending on your year of entry, full time Master of Chiropractic (MChiro) Hons.
  • London South Bank University offers a Chiropractic Integrated Masters (MChiro), which is a four-year full-time course.
  • McTimoney College of Chiropractic offers a four and five-year integrated MChiro awarded by Ulster University. The five-year programme is aimed at students wanting to continue working while studying. Learning is based in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, with clinical training also offered in Manchester.
  • Teesside University offers a full-time, four-year MSci Chiropractic course.
  • University of South Wales offers a full-time, four-year integrated MChiro.

Courses offer practical training in supervised clinical experience, enabling you to both understand the systems and workings of the human body, and assess and diagnose patients. You'll also gain skills in research methods, how to run a business and professional and ethical practice.

Entry requirements vary but include GCSEs in maths and English and three A-levels, two of which are typically in sciences, particularly biology or biological sciences, or a relevant higher qualification. Contact individual institutions for details.

Once you have completed your chiropractic degree you will be eligible to register with the GCC and can be added to their register. Find out more about joining the register with the GCC.


You'll need to have:

  • the ability to cope with the intellectual and physical demands of the training and the profession
  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • coordination skills
  • the ability to show empathy and work sensitively with a range of patients
  • an enquiring and critical mind
  • strong observational skills, a logical approach and the ability to problem solve in order to diagnose effectively
  • initiative, independence and business awareness.

A driving licence is also useful for travel between practices.

Work experience

To get on to a course, you may be expected to have some experience of chiropractic treatments. Some training providers want you to have shadowed a chiropractor for a certain amount of time (e.g. three hours) while others may expect you to have had a treatment yourself. You can use the GCC register on its website to find a chiropractor near you.

Regardless of entry requirements it's useful to get some experience like this to give you a realistic insight to what the profession and treatments are like.

You could also consider becoming a student member of a relevant professional body. This will give you access to resources and help you to demonstrate your commitment to the profession. For more information on memberships see:

Experience of working with people, possibly in a related healthcare field, can also be useful.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


You'll usually be self-employed and will work in private practice, which may mean working from home or, more often, in an established private chiropractic clinic. You may work across more than one clinic.

The use of chiropractic in the NHS is limited but there may be a few opportunities for contract work with NHS trusts although this is not common.

GP practices are able to commission healthcare services directly and close working relationships with GPs may lead to contractual provision of chiropractic care to NHS patients.

If you don't want to be self-employed, employed associate positions are sometimes available at established practices.

Look for associate or locum vacancies as well as practices to buy or lease at:

Networking, personal contacts and speculative applications are valuable ways of finding out about opportunities. Associate vacancies may also be advertised via the GCC-approved training institutions.

You can also advertise your own services on the websites of the professional bodies and through the GCC register.

Professional development

In order to stay registered with the GCC, you must complete at least 30 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) a year. Half of these hours must include direct learning or interaction with others.

CPD activities can include:

  • attending lectures and seminars
  • taking short courses
  • taking part in practical sessions
  • undertaking individual study
  • assessing patient feedback
  • being involved in a clinical audit
  • having structured discussions with colleagues.

More information is available from GCC Continuing Professional Development.

The professional associations recommend that in your first year of practice you complete the post-registration training (PRT) programme run by the Royal College of Chiropractors (RCC). This programme helps you to transfer from your degree into professional practice in a clinical setting with support and help. Once completed, you can gain licentiate membership of the RCC and use the post nominal letters LRCC. You'll also receive the RCC Diploma in Chiropractic (DC). Further routes are then available to progress to full membership (MRCC) and Fellowship (FRCC).

CPD programmes and specialist Masters-level courses in subjects such as paediatric and animal chiropractic are also available allowing you to focus on certain areas.

Seminars, conferences and professional journals are also available through the RCC and chiropractic associations:

  • British Chiropractic Association (BCA)
  • McTimoney Chiropractic Association (MCA)
  • Scottish Chiropractic Association (SCA)
  • United Chiropractic Association (UCA).

They also provide advice on marketing and running a business.

Career prospects

Many newly qualified chiropractors begin their career working for another chiropractor in private practice as an associate. However, with some experience and a potential client base established, there are many opportunities to set up your own practice within the early stages of your career. You can also work in partnership with other chiropractors or health professionals.

In order to create a successful practice, you need to build up a good reputation, which will lead to an increased client base. Marketing your business is important, and networking with other practitioners and complementary therapists may help.

Some chiropractors work in a group practice, while others may work in a more diverse clinic with other healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists, acupuncturists and massage therapists. There may also be some opportunities for NHS commissioning, franchising and locum work.

Once established, you may develop specialist interests or work with specific patient groups in areas such as:

  • animal care
  • diagnostic imaging
  • orthopaedics and rehabilitation
  • paediatrics
  • sports injuries.

With experience you could also choose to follow an academic career teaching at one of the GCC-approved training institutions. You'll also find opportunities to go into chiropractic research.

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