Certification and Licensure

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Just as medical doctors and attorneys must do, would-be chiropractors must prove their knowledge and readiness to practice. After they earn their degrees from chiropractic college, graduates must then take and pass their board exams before they can apply for a license to practice.

All fifty states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico regulate the practice of chiropractic and grant licenses to qualified candidates. Chiropractic physicians are only allowed to practice in states in which they are licensed.

Most states require passing scores on all or part of the four-part test administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

After passing the board exams, candidates then complete the final steps to licensure as required by the state in which they would like to practice. These steps typically include undergoing a criminal background check, passing a state-level exam on the state’s scope of practice limitations, and submitting a list of personal references.

To maintain licensure, doctors of chiropractic are required (in all states but one) to earn continuing education units each year.

In addition, chiropractors may earn post-doctoral diplomate certifications in various subspecialties, such as acupuncture, radiology and neurology, through the American Chiropractic Association. Certifications are also available in veterinary chiropractic, spinal trauma, sport science and other niche disciplines.