Herbalist: Herbal Studies Career Education

Sep 17, 2019

Herbalists require some formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and additional requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Herbalists treat ailments by using natural herbs and remedies. Due to the various forms of herbalism, training and education requirements can vary tremendously. While some herbalists work along with physicians, some may be medical doctors who incorporate herbal remedies into their treatment plans.

Essential Information

An herbalist is trained to help heal and maintain the human body through administering plant extracts and derivatives orally or topically to patients. Some herbalists consult with patients, medical providers, and other consumers concerning the medicinal value of different herbal supplements.

Other herbalists may work as medical practitioners who simply utilize herbs in their treatment regimens. Acupuncturists, for example, often prescribe patients Chinese herbal remedies. Since herbology is used in so many different medical specialties, herbalist training programs and requirements vary significantly and are often highly specialized.

Required Education Varies by profession
Skills Requirements Familiar with herbal remedy preparation; knowledge of human anatomy and physiology; possess an understanding of patient assessment and diagnoses standards; knowledgeable of herbal formulas and supplements.
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 11% for all health diagnosing and treating practitioners
Average Salary (2018)* $85,600 for health diagnosing and treating practitioners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Outlook

Herbalists have several options when it comes to career opportunities. They can work as both consultants and representatives for companies in the herbal industries; duties could include ensuring the quality of herbs and raising herbs. They sometimes use their herbal studies foundation in conjunction with acupuncture or Oriental medicine. Herbalists may also be able to work as journalists or teachers of herbal medicine. Furthermore, they could pair up with physicians to offer holistic services to patients.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes this career with health diagnosing and treating practitioners, and the BLS projected that available job opportunities for this broad career category would increase by 11% during the 2018-2028 decade. The average annual salary earned by health diagnosing and treating practitioners not listed separately in 2018 was $85,600, according to BLS data.

Education and Training

Herbalist can find training within several fields of holistic medicine, including Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and western scientific botanical applications. Herbal studies rely heavily on deep knowledge both of the human body and the effects of various plant extracts on bodily functions and healing. An herbalist learns to recognize patterns that indicate various imbalances and disharmonies. He or she finds natural ways to alleviate pain and foster health.

There are various programs available that prospective herbalists can choose from, depending on their personal and career goals. Distance learning programs may prove to be a more affordable option for individuals looking to learn at their own pace. Some schools offer short programs online that last several weeks but may have to be supplemented with other courses in order to provide a well-rounded education. On-site programs offer students a traditional classroom setting with a variety of teachers and practitioners. A program might confer the Bachelor of Science in Herbal Sciences degree or a graduate certificate in herbal studies.

Within an herbal studies program, students are trained in a range of subjects including body function and the properties of various herbs. Some examples of course topics are:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Plant identification
  • Ethnobotany
  • Plant chemistry and pharmacology
  • Clinical skills in herbalism
  • Health maintenance with herbs
  • Herbal preparations
  • Pharmacology

With faster than average job growth predicted for health diagnosis and treating practitioners, herbalists have a plethora of job opportunities available to them. Herbalists can work with physicians or herbal companies, teach herbalism, or have their own practice. They can achieve their knowledge through short classes or study herbalism in a traditional classroom setting or online, with each option possibly offering a degree or certificate.

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