Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medical art practiced for more than 5,000 years, involves inserting fine needles at points on the body's surface to influence physiological functions. Acupuncture practitioners treat a wide range of physical and psychological conditions and provide support for patients with chronic diseases. They can work in a variety of settings, including in private practice and hospitals. Most acupuncturists have master's degrees or graduate certificates from accredited acupuncture programs. Most states require licensing or certification, and their regulations vary.
According to O*net Online, a website sponsored by the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor, acupuncturists earned a median annual salary of $74,710 in May 2015. Between 2014-2024, job opportunities for acupuncturists were expected to increase from 9% to 13% as reported by O*net.
Career Options in Acupuncture
Licensed acupuncture practitioners are trained to provide a broad range of healthcare services, including internal, dental and visual care, as well as addiction treatment, pain management and rehabilitation assistance. They may work in private practices, multidisciplinary clinic settings or hospitals. Other career options include teaching, research and writing.
Unlike conventional Western medical practice, acupuncturists are trained to treat the entire individual rather than the specific illness or condition. They take into account a patient's physical, mental and emotional condition in order to determine the proper course of treatment. In addition to providing acupuncture therapy, practitioners help their patients achieve balance and wellness in their everyday lives.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Acupuncture and Acupressure
- Alternative and Complementary Medicine
- Homeopathic Medicine
- Movement Therapies
- Naturopathic Medicine
- Polarity Therapy
- Traditional Eastern Medicine and Herbology
- Yoga Therapy and Instructor
|Degree Level||Master's degrees or post-baccalaureate certificates from schools accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine; some states require acupuncturists to be physicians, osteopaths, or chiropractors|
|Licensure/Certification||Most states have licensing requirements|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||9%-13% growth|
|Mean Annual Salary (2015)*||$74,710|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, *O*net Online
Acupuncture regulations vary state by state, according to the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) (www.nccaom.org). Most states have licensing or continuing education requirements, including certification by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Seven states (Alabama, Delaware, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota) allow only medical doctors, osteopaths and chiropractors to perform acupuncture, while at least two states (Louisiana and Michigan) require acupuncture professionals to treat patients under the supervision of doctors or osteopaths.
Most licensed acupuncturists hold master's degrees or post-baccalaureate certificates from schools accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (www.acaom.org). As the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) explains, most programs require 1,500-2,000 hours of acupuncture training and take 3-4 years to complete (www.ccaom.org). Graduates must pass the certification exam offered by NCCAOM and fulfill any additional state licensing requirements.
If your still interested in becoming an acupuncturist, remember that you'll need a graduate certificate or degree as well as a certification or license before you can enter this fast growing field. As of May 2015, acupuncturists earned a mean annual salary of $74,710.