Should I Become a Certified Natural Health Consultant?
Natural health practitioners, including certified natural health consultants, use natural techniques to help clients restore and maintain health and enhance the body's natural healing abilities. They use natural methods and modalities such as homeopathy, acupuncture, nutrition, herbal supplements, exercise and other therapies. These professionals treat the patient as a whole rather than treating only his or her symptoms. They also educate patients on how to care for themselves. Providing some of these therapies may be physically demanding, and many of these consultants may spend many work hours standing.
|Degree Level||No degree required; a bachelor's degree may help with professional advancement|
|Degree Field||No specific major required; courses such as organic chemistry, mathematics, biology, physics and social sciences are needed for advanced degrees|
|Licensure and Certification||Licensure is not required for natural health consultants but may be required for advanced careers; certification available from several professional organizations including the American Council of Holistic Medicine|
|Key Skills||Critical thinking skills, excellent interpersonal communication skills, compassion, desire to serve others, patience|
|Salary (2015)||$71,336 (median for naturopathic physicians)|
Sources: American Council of Holistic Medicine, National Association of Certified Natural Health Professionals, Inc., American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, National College of Natural Medicine, PayScale.com.
Step 1: Get Training
The educational requirements vary between the two main certifying organizations: The National Association of Certified Natural Health Professionals, Inc. (CNHP) and the American Council of Holistic Medicine (ACHM). To become certified by the CNHP, aspiring natural health consultants must take each of the five seminars offered by the organization. The organization prefers applicants with a high school diploma or its equivalent, although it is not a strict requirement. Seminars combine lectures with hands-on applications of natural health techniques. Seminars include subjects such as nutrition, body systems, body work and practicum.
To become certified as a natural health consultant with ACHM, individuals must have at least a bachelor's degree plus at least 120 hours of experience in the field. Some colleges and universities offer degrees in natural health; alternatively, students can earn a degree in a related field such as women's health, nutrition or behavioral science. There is no prescribed course of study, although some helpful courses include sociology, psychology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology and nutrition.
Step 2: Get a Job
Although prior experience is not a prerequisite to become certified by the CNHP, it is a major factor in becoming board certified with the ACHM. This experience can be gained by working in a related field after graduating from a bachelor's degree program, or a combination of internships and jobs worked while earning a degree. Job opportunities are available in places such as vitamin retailers, whole food markets, chiropractor offices, health clinics, weight loss centers, health clubs, wellness centers and health food stores.
Step 3: Get Certified
Certification demonstrates professional competence and dedication to the field. It also may offer increased opportunities for employment. Completing the five required CNHP seminars is all that is required to become certified by the CNHP. The certification process with ACHM is more complex. In addition to having 120 hours of experience in a related job and a bachelor's degree, applicants must apply for certification and select a specialty such as integrative medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy, therapeutic nutrition, weight loss, stress management, Ayurvedic medicine, pain management, herbology, anti-aging medicine and women's wellness.
The application for board certification must be completed and returned to the organization with copies of individual transcripts and degrees, two passport-size photographs and payment of the certification fee. Once the ACHM receives all of the necessary documentation, the organization mails a certification test to the aspiring consultant. The test must be finished and returned to ACHM within 30 days.
- Research the continuing education requirements for maintaining the certification. Although there aren't any state or federal guidelines mandating the requirements for certification of natural health consultants, each certifying organization has its own requirements for maintaining certification. The ACHM requires at least 12 hours of continuing education from an approved provider, while the CNHP requires renewal candidates to attend one capstone seminar every year.
Step 4: Consider Advanced Education and Career Options
The ACHM offers additional certification for natural health specialists, with a master's degree or higher and 45 hours of experience; clinical practitioner with a doctorate or a medical degree; and diplomate, with a doctorate or a medical degree and a minimum of three years of clinical experience. To be eligible to enroll in a master's degree or doctor of naturopathic medicine program, applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree. Most schools also require applicants to have completed coursework in math, chemistry, biology, physics, humanities and social sciences.
Naturopathic doctors combine naturally-based treatments and traditional healing methods with modern science. Many naturopathic doctors work in hospitals, health centers, clinics and private practices to treat ailments such as chronic pain, hormonal imbalances, heart disease, fertility problems, allergies and obesity.
- Become a naturopathic doctor to treat patients and work as a primary care physician. Sixteen states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico require naturopathic doctors to be licensed. To be eligible for licensure, individuals must graduate from an accredited naturopathic medical school and pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX.) Each of these states also mandates that naturopathic doctors fulfill continuing education requirements every year.