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Career Information for a Degree in Energy-Based Therapies

Energy-based therapy programs are designed to prepare individuals for several different careers in alternative health. Continue reading for an overview of the potential areas of study, as well as career and salary information related to some career options for graduates.

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Careers for a degree in energy-based therapies can involve naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy, to name a few options. Job growth for these professions is projected to be better than average through 2024.

Essential Information

Schools that offer degrees in various holistic health professions, such as naturopathy and massage therapy, often include training in energy-based therapies in their curricula, such as Reiki or acupuncture. Graduates can then go on to build careers in holistic wellness or medicine.

Career Titles Massage Therapists Naturopaths Acupuncturists
Education Requirements A high school diploma and completion of a postsecondary massage therapy program A science-focused undergraduate degree, a medical degree (M.D.) and knowledge of complementary medicine and holistic therapies A master's degree or post-baccalaureate certificate in acupuncture OR an apprenticeship in acupuncture
Projected Job Growth (2014 - 2024) 22%** 14% (for all doctors and surgeons)** 9% to 13% (for acupuncturists, among other types of health diagnosing and treating practitioners)*
Mean Annual Salary (May 2015) $43,170** $197,700 (for all doctors and surgeons)** $74,710 (median salary for acupuncturists, among other types of health diagnosing and treating practitioners)*

Sources: *O*Net Online, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Several options exist for those who complete energy-based therapies education programs. Bachelor's and associate's degree programs can lead to licensing in massage therapy. Acupuncturists might earn master's degrees and naturopathic physicians require doctoral degrees.

Massage Therapists

Massage therapists use various techniques to manipulate their clients' muscles. These techniques usually involve a combination of stroking, rubbing, tapping and applying pressure to the body. Some massage therapy degree programs include training in a variety of energy-based therapies, including acupressure, shiatsu and qi gong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of massage therapists was projected to increase by 22% between 2014 and 2024. The mean annual salary for massage therapists as of May 2015 was $43,170 (www.bls.gov).

Acupuncturists

Acupuncture is an energy-based therapy in which a practitioner inserts needles along energetic pathways, also known as 'meridians,' in the body. Acupuncturists provide acupuncture treatment to their clients and may also provide advice about the use of herbal treatments as well.

Many states require acupuncturists to hold a state license, professional certification from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) or both to legally practice (www.nccaom.org). An acupuncturist must usually earn a master's degree or postbaccalaureate certificate before beginning work, according to the BLS, but NCCAOM does certify acupuncturists who complete an extended apprenticeship program in lieu of graduate-level education. Acupuncturists are counted among other types of health diagnosing and treating practitioners, and O*Net Online reported that annual median salaries for these practitioners were $74,710 in 2015.

Naturopaths

Naturopaths are health care professionals who provide advice and, when allowed by law, treatment for health concerns by using a mix of alternative and holistic therapies. These therapies may include energy-based therapies such as acupuncture and homeopathy. The BLS doesn't keep records on salary trends for naturopaths but, as reported by O*Net Online, median salaries for naturopathic physicians (among other types of health diagnosing and treating practitioners) were $74,710 in 2015. Doctors and surgeons in general earned a median salary above $197,700 annually at that same time.

Some states, such as Oregon, license naturopaths as primary care practitioners, and these naturopaths may be eligible for reimbursement from health insurance companies. Naturopathic physicians who practice in states where naturopathy is a licensed profession complete a 4-year graduate degree program after earning a bachelor's degree. It's also possible to earn an M.D. and become a regular physician, then study alternative and holistic care during a residency.

The training involved in becoming a massage therapist may include shiatsu, acupressure and qi gong, which help therapists develop the right techniques for treating clients. In most states, acupuncturists need to be professionally certified and/or state licensed. Naturopaths are considered health care professionals, and in some states can be licensed as primary care practitioners.

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