Herbalists use plants and natural products to create medicinal remedies.
Degrees in herbalism are available at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's levels. Students can choose from concentrations in herbalism, herbal sciences, or herbal medicine. Undergraduate programs require a high school diploma or GED, while a master's program requires a bachelor's degree and possible undergraduate coursework in science. Online programs are available at all degree levels.
Associate of Science Degree in Herbalism
Herbalist associate degree programs provide an introduction to herbalism, natural healing and holistic nutrition. Students gain training that can be used in a personal or professional setting as a family herbalist, retailer, writer, lecturer or consultant. Typical coursework for an associate degree may include:
- Western herbalism
- Remedies in homeopathy
- Biosciences and herbalism
- Introduction to botany
- Plant identification
Bachelor's Degree in Herbal Sciences
A bachelor's degree program in herbal sciences offers a comprehensive overview of botanical science and herbal products. Students work with master herbalists and learn about various aspects of herbalism, from plant cultivation and the preparation of herbal remedies to business operations, such as sales and herbal manufacturing. Programs also include hands-on training, laboratory work and internships. Some commonly required coursework may include:
- Herbal sciences research methods
- Interaction between herbs and drugs
- Preparing herbal treatments
Master of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine
Master's degree programs in herbal medicine focus on expanding knowledge gained in undergraduate herbalist programs. Students learn about the effects of natural medicine and its relationship to pharmacology, science and physiology. Graduate-level herbalist programs typically include a strong clinical study component, while continuing to focus on health and wellness theory and practice. Students gain practical knowledge by working with herbs that were grown on campus farms, and they learn from experienced herbalists when participating in internships. Students also learn how to work in patient-care environments with licensed medical professionals. Typical graduate-level coursework includes:
- Case assessment and management
- Preparation of herbal remedies
- Culture and medicinal plants
- Herbal pharmacology
- Phytochemistry and herbs
- Biomedicine in herbal therapies
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
As of 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) reported a median annual salary of $48,270 for other healthcare practitioners and technical workers, which includes herbalists. The BLS also reported that this same group of workers would see a 17% increase in job growth between 2014-2024.
Popular Career Options
Bachelor's degree programs in herbal sciences qualify graduates for careers in herb cultivation, research, manufacturing, distribution and sales. Graduates are often employed by the nutrition, health and wellness industries. Career options may include:
- Herb grower and cultivator
- Herbalism instructor
- Western herbalist
- Chinese herbalist
- Herb product sales representative
- Herb retail store manager
- Herbal medicine manufacturer's representative
Graduates of herbalist master's degree programs work with licensed medical professionals in a variety of settings. Careers may include:
- Medical practice consultant
- Academic researcher
- Herbalism educator
- Liaison between alternative and conventional healthcare professionals
Continuing Education Information
Some students who complete associate degree programs in herbalism may be eligible to apply for membership in the American Herbalist Guild (AHG); however, it may be necessary to complete a bachelor's or master's degree program in herbal sciences to meet AHG's clinical practice and laboratory experience requirements. In addition to at least four years of combined academic and hands-on training, AHG membership requires in-depth knowledge of 150 plants, human physiology and life sciences.
The AHG encourages herbalists to pursue continuing education throughout their careers. Herbalists who wish to become licensed patient-care professionals will need to pursue a degree in a related medical field. Many alternative medical practitioners earn degrees and become licensed as naturopaths, nurses, osteopaths and chiropractors.
Students interested in herbalism can earn an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree to work in various fields. Graduates can become members of the AHG and pursue continuing education to become licensed practitioners.