A professional with a degree in herbal studies could work as a health or community educator, a retail salesperson in a natural foods store, or a professional herbalist. Education requirements vary from certificate programs to master's degrees, and some positions in this field may require state licensure.
Graduates of herbal studies programs learn how to use natural remedies to promote health. There are many different types of professional herbalists. For example, a professional herbalist may work in acupuncture, naturopathy or traditional Chinese medicine. There are also non-treatment career options such as herbal sales and herbal education. The education requirements for all of these fields vary greatly based on state and employer requirements.
|Career||Herbal Retail Salesperson||Professional Herbalist||Educator|
|Required Education||Less than high school||Bachelor's or master's degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||On-the-job-training||Licensure (varies per state)||Some employers require licensure|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||7%* (for all retail salespersons)||N/A||12%* (for all health educators)|
|Median Salary||$21,780* (for all retail salespersons in 2015)||$49,839** (for acupuncturists only in 2016)||$51,960* (for all health educators in 2015)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com
Herbal studies degree programs are available, as well as programs that offer herbal education, such as herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine, alternative medicine and naturopathy programs. In addition to degree programs, some schools offer certificate and diploma programs at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
The length and content of these programs can vary by school. For example, certificate and diploma programs can take several years to complete, and like degree programs, include training in anatomy, nutrition and the clinical uses of herbs. Programs designed for hobbyists or retail store clerks are often shorter in length and provide instruction in herbal identification as well a basic understanding of their medicinal properties.
Herbal Retail Salesperson
Herbal retail salespersons might work in health food stores, dedicated herbal stores, cooperative supermarkets or similar businesses to answer customer questions, suggest appropriate herbal remedies and make sales. These workers generally need knowledge of the herbs and products they sell, because misuse of herbal products may be harmful.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of retail salespersons, including herbal retail sales persons, is expected to grow 7% between 2014 and 2024. In May 2015, the BLS also reported that the annual median salary of a retail sales worker was $21,780.
Professional herbalists provide herbal recommendations to their clients and, depending on their training, may also provide other diagnostic and treatment services. Some herbalists are trained in the use of herbs only, while others may hold licensure in other health care modalities, such as naturopathy, acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine.
Herbalists may also work with medical doctors or are medical doctors themselves. The educational requirements for each type of herbalist vary significantly. For example, acupuncturists and naturopaths must obtain professional licensure before practicing in some states. Herbalists may also want to earn professional certification from a recognized herbalism professional association.
The BLS does not provide job outlook information for professional herbalists. Payscale.com stated that acupuncturists earned a median salary of $49,839 as of 2016.
Professional herbalists, particularly those with postgraduate credentials in health care, herbalism or botany, can teach herbalism to others. Educators can teach adult education courses to the public, hobby or professional herbalism students, as well as courses for health care professionals who want to learn more about the medicinal uses of herbs. Positions can be found with educational institutions or professional organizations.
The BLS reported that job opportunities for health educators were expected to grow 12% between 2014 and 2024. As of May 2015, the median annual salary for health educators was reported to be $51,960.
A degree in herbal studies can lead to a career in retail, health education, or alternative or complementary forms of medicine. These professionals can work with on-the-job training in some cases, or may need a degree and licensure in others. Job prospects in this field are predicted to grow between 7% and 12% over the 2014-2024 decade.