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Acupuncture Training Programs and Requirements

The Chinese art of acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat a variety of health issues, like back pain, fertility, addiction, depression, anxiety and headaches, using sterile needles in different pressure points. Students interested in this type of career typically earn a bachelor's degree in a related field and then enroll in an acupuncture master's program.

Essential Information

Entry into the field of acupuncture requires a master's degree in acupuncture and state licensing. Students seeking enrollment into an acupuncture program should have a background in medicine, biology, psychology or neurobiology. Because students participate in clinical internships, other requirements include current Hepatitis B and tuberculosis skin tests and CPR certification.

The ideal candidate for the acupuncture training program should demonstrate excellent observation, communication and motor skills, be comfortable working independently and have compassion for others. These programs usually last two to three years. Online courses in this field are rare.


Master's Degree in Acupuncture

A master's degree in acupuncture trains students in the use of acupuncture instruments and the application of different treatment methods, like cupping, needles, gua sha and moxibustion. For example, when using needles, students learn how to insert the needle into the correct nerve pathway to produce a muscle spasm to relax the muscle; students practice this and other techniques during supervised clinical internships. An essay, a letter of recommendation and GRE scores are common enrollment requirements. Courses may cover:

  • Chinese and herbal medicine
  • Pathology
  • Biochemistry
  • Western medicine
  • Nutrition

Popular Career Options

Acupuncturists often work in health clinics, hospitals, medical centers, private practices and veterinary offices. Practitioners may consult with patients, perform physical examinations and arrive at a treatment plan.

Required Licenses and Certifications

The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is the certifying body for acupuncturists and also the developer of licensure exams. Acupuncturist licenses are state-administered, but most states use the NCCAOM exams; many states also require that applicants achieve NCCAOM certification in order to earn their licenses. Typically, applicants must also fulfill minimum experience requirements to become licensed. Recertification takes place every ten years and requires a fee, an exam, continuing education courses and a current license in good standing.

Continuing Education Information

The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (www.aaaomonline.org) hosts an annual conference where acupuncture professionals can view live demonstrations, attend lectures from physicians and network with other professionals. The Society for Acupuncture Research (www.acupunctureresearch.org) hosts a research conference for practitioners to educate them on strategies for care, effective techniques and new research findings. Individuals may also discuss industry news with students and professionals through online forums.

Students pursuing a career in acupuncture usually attain an undergraduate degree in a related field before entering a master's program focusing on the medicine and methods of acupuncture. Graduates also need to receive state licensure and/or certification from The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine before going into practice.

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