Natural Health Consultants
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.
While a bachelor's degree is not required to work as a certified natural health consultant, it may help some people advance in the field. However, undergraduate courses in biology, organic chemistry, physics, mathematics and social sciences will be needed to pursue an advanced degree. Some of the key skills that can help a certified natural health consultant succeed in the field include critical thinking and excellent interpersonal communication skills. They should also have compassion, patience and a strong desire to help others. Let's take a look at the steps involved in becoming a certified natural health consultant.
Step 1: Get Training
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 National Association of Certified Natural Health Professionals, Inc., 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. They include topics in nutrition, body systems and bodywork. Students also complete a practicum.
To become certified as a natural health consultant with the American Council of Holistic Medicine, individuals must have at least a bachelor's degree and a minimum of 120 hours of experience in the field. Some colleges and universities offer degree programs 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 human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology and sociology.
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 through a combination of internships and jobs worked while earning a degree. For example, aspiring natural health consultants may find jobs in health clubs or clinics, chiropractors' offices, health food stores, vitamin retailers, weight loss centers, wellness centers and whole food markets.
Step 3: Get Certified
Certification demonstrates professional competence and dedication to the field. It also may offer increased opportunities for employment. As we said earlier, completing the five required CNHP seminars is all that is required to become certified by the CNHP. The certification process with the American Council of Holistic Medicine 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, like anti-aging, Ayurvedic or integrative medicine, herbology, homeopathy, naturopathy, pain or stress management, therapeutic nutrition, weight loss or 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 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 attend one capstone seminar every year.
Step 4: Get a Graduate Degree
The American Council of Holistic Medicine offers additional certification for natural health specialists with a master's degree or higher and 45 hours of experience, clinical practitioners with a medical degree or doctoral degree, and diplomates with a medical or doctoral degree and a minimum of three years of clinical experience. To be eligible to enroll in a master's 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 biology, chemistry, math, physics and social sciences.
Naturopathic physicians 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 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. Naturopathic physicians in 16 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico must be licensed. To be eligible for licensure, individuals must be graduates of an accredited naturopathic medical school and pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX). Each of these states also mandates that naturopathic physicians fulfill continuing education requirements every year.
According to Payscale.com, in August 2016, naturopathic physicians earned a median annual salary of $73,400.
Let's review what we've just talked about. To become a certified natural health consultant, you'll need to meet the certification requirements of the National Association of Certified Natural Health Professionals, Inc. (CNHP) or the American Council of Holistic Medicine (ACHM). Those of the ACHM are more stringent, but both organizations require continuing education to stay certified.