Herbalist Education Requirements and Job Duties

Herbalists require some formal education, depending on the state they want to practice in. Learn about the education and training, job duties, and certifications and licensure for herbalists to see if this is the right career for you.

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Herbal practitioners focus on natural medicine, typically referred to as alternative medicine. Some schools offer herbalism courses, but most do not, so a bachelor's degree in science or certification are two viable options to choose from. We will delve deeper into the duties and educational requisites this job entails.

Essential Information

An herbalist in private practice will use herbs, along with knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, to treat ailments. They may have bachelor's degrees in science or certification in herbology. States may require separate licenses to practice. Herbalists who do not run private practices may find jobs as herb cultivators or herbal supplement manufacturers, among other options.

Required Education Varies by state and desired position
Other Requirements Depending on state and position, may include the following:
Bachelor of Science
Certification in herbology
State licensure
Internships
Projected Growth (2018-2028)* 11% (health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other)
Annual Median Salary (2018)* $73,960 (health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties of Herbalists

According to the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), a non-profit organization, the goal of herbal medicine is to awaken the body's inner healing mechanisms, using herbs, diet and lifestyle changes (www.americanherbalistsguild.com). Herbalists treat patients with biological material. Like modern medical doctors, they consult with patients to help diagnose medical problems. They use a mix of traditional and modern techniques; for example, during examinations, herbalists check blood pressure and pulse.

A trained herbalist may work as an entrepreneur, a teacher, researcher or herb cultivator. Other jobs include working as a quality assurance or processing specialist for a supplement manufacturer.

Herbal practitioners may operate clinics, which requires maintaining patients' records, following up on appointments, making referrals and engaging in all the activities associated with operating a private medical practice.

Educational Requirements

Many herbalists acquire knowledge through reading about and using plants. The AHG has outlined a recommended program for those who aspire to professional practice. It includes study of the human sciences, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, medical terminology, nutrition, botany, herbal therapy and clinical practice.

A Bachelor of Science program in the field may focus on the identification and cultivation of medicinal herbs, using herbs to maintain health and the manufacture of herbal supplements.

The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) awards certification in herbology (www.nccaom.org). However, certification is not the same as state licensure, which is handled differently in each of the states and in the District of Columbia. In some states, herbalists receive an acupuncture license. They may be required to take a certain number of hours of study from a state-approved school.

Student herbalists can get internships through organizations such as The Herb Research Foundation (www.herbs.org). The American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP) provides a list of schools that teach the discipline (www.aadp.net).

Herbalists require some type of educational background, whether certification, a college degree, or internships. There may teach, research, or cultivate herbal remedies. Most herbalists have an operating procedure similar to that of medical doctors.

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