Herbal Medicine Practitioner: Job Info & Career Requirements

Keep reading to see what herbal medicine practitioners do. Get information about what it takes to become one, and check the job prospects. Find out of this career field is the right one for you.

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Career Definition for Herbal Medicine Practitioners

Herbal medicine is an alternative to the traditional allopathic medical field. Herbal medicine practitioners use plants rather than pharmaceuticals to treat illnesses and conditions. Herbal medicine is one of the most popular alternative medicine fields in the U.S., according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM, www.nccam.nih.org). There are herbal medicine practitioners who use Chinese herbal medicine, ayurvedists who use Indian herbal medicine, and herbalists who use North American and European plants in their practices.

Education Bachelor's and Master's in a medical field
Job Skills Observation, communication, healing, business, marketing
Median Salary (2015)* $74,710 (health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 12% (health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

In order to diagnose and treat illness legally in the U.S., herbal medicine practitioners must be licensed as acupuncturists or naturopathic doctors. Each of these career paths requires completion of a bachelor's degree and postgraduate education in the particular field of medicine. Many herbal medicine practitioners complete internships with experienced herbalists before starting their own practices. Some states offer alternative licensure and credentials for herbal medicine practitioners, but a national licensing system does not yet exist.

Skills Required

Successful herbal medicine practitioners are interested in healing and helping people. They have keen observation skills and are good communicators. Because most herbal medicine practitioners are self-employed, a successful practice requires business and marketing skills.

Career and Economic Outlook

The NCCAM reported in 2015 that nearly 30% of adults utilize alternative health care services in the U.S. The use of natural products, such as herbal medicine, is the most popular treatment type, indicating that the demand for herbal medicine practitioners is increasing.

Herbal medicine practitioners set their own rates, and incomes vary with experience and the variety of services they offer. According to O*Net Online (www.onetonline.org), acupuncturists and naturopathic physicians earned a median salary of $74,710 in 2015. O*Net Online also published the projected growth rate for job opportunities as an acupuncturist or naturopathic physician to be faster than average, increasing by 9-13% from 2014-2024.

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