How to Become an Acupuncturist

Acupuncturist Key Stats
Education 2-4 Years
Job Outlook 14%

Acupuncturists are licensed professionals that work in the health care industry treating patients using non Western practices.

They use a form of alternative medicine that is traditional in the Oriental part of the world.

To the outsider, Acupuncturists insert a variety of needles into their patients’ skin in order to promote health and treat a variety of illnesses or health concerns.

Acupuncture uses the belief that flow of energy within the human body circulates along intersected energy paths referred to as meridians.

Certain ailments, pain or symptoms are caused by a disrupted or stalled flow of energy.

Acupuncture treatment would require professionals to determine the meridian that is causing the symptoms and encourage the energy flow in that area by inserting the acupuncture needles.

If you have an interest in health and non Western medicine and want to become an Acupuncturist , continue reading the information below.

You will find information on the education requirements to become an Acupuncturist, a general job description, the future outlook for this profession and salary and wage information.

Education Requirements to Become an Acupuncturist

Students who want to become an Acupuncturist must have a deep knowledge of the human body and must complete a formal education program in order to be qualified in this field.

In addition, depending on their state of residency, Acupuncturists must secure license in order to practice this technique.

The U.S.

Department of Education recognizes the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) who is the national agency responsible for accrediting Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine programs in the United States.

ACAOM currently lists approximately 60 schools at the Master’s level that are accredited or are being considered for accreditation.

Licensing requirements vary by state.

However, there are 43 states and the District of Columbia that require candidates to take the licensing exam administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

Candidates must take and complete the licensing exam administered by NCCAOM if they reside in the one of the 43 states that requires it.

Depending on the state you reside in, some additional requirements may need to be followed in addition to the licensure exam.

The NCCAOM also provides a list of states that accept their licensing exam.

Certification is valid for four years at which time candidates will need to renew their licensure.

Acupuncturist Job Description

Acupuncturists are licensed professionals who are responsible for treating their patients using a variety of methods.

In addition to needling, Acupuncturists also suggest herbal treatments, acupressure and recommend lifestyle changes.

An Acupuncturist begins a treatment by questioning the patient regarding symptoms and physical complaints.

They may do this by asking verbally or having patients fill out a medical questionnaire.

This information can help an Acupuncturist determine the root of the health problem.

Acupuncturists will pinpoint the meridians that need to be stimulated in order to help the energy flow and relieve medical symptoms.

Self employed Acupuncturists are also responsible for maintaining and promoting their business.

This includes attracting new clients, administrative tasks and managing their business costs.

Acupuncturist Salary and Career Path

American Association of Oriental Medicine states that Acupuncturists typically charge $30 to $70 per treatment or session.

The exact salary for the acupuncturist will depend on the type and length of treatment, geographical location and the cost of treatment.

An Acupuncturist’s exact wages will depend on the rate they charge per session and the quantity of patients and sessions they have.

The majority of Acupuncturists are self employed meaning they are responsible for attracting new patients by paying for advertising.

Other costs that would affect their net income include office space, medical and treatment equipment and malpractice insurance premiums.

All of these out of pocket expenses will affect the take home pay for these professionals.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment in the health and medical industry is expected to increase by 22 percent through the year 2018.

This growth is attributed to the aging baby boomer generation which is nearing retirement and that will requirement more medical treatment.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Acupuncturists and Healthcare Diagnosing or Treating Practitioners, OCC Code 29-1298, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an acupuncturist?

An acupuncturist is someone who is specialized in practicing a complementary medical procedure that involves inserting very thin needles through a person’s skin in order to provide relief from pain or to treat health problems.

Acupuncture can be used in alleviating the discomfort associated with a variety of diseases and conditions, such as headaches, lower back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis, labor pain, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and more.

Licensed acupuncturists can work in private practices, clinics, hospitals but also in research.

This profession is highly regulated and acupuncturists must follow very strict rules.

Needles must be sterile, nontoxic and disposable and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

As an acupuncturist you will need knowledge of oriental medicine, but also compassion and good communication skills.

How much does an acupuncturist make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for health diagnosing and treating practitioners was $73,830 as of May 2018.

Salaries vary widely, depending on the region, the acupuncturist’s experience and the employer.

How much does it cost to become an acupuncturist?

Acupuncturists need a master’s or doctorate degree from an accredited school of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM).

In order to be admitted to an AOM master’s degree program, you must first complete an undergraduate program.

Annual tuition for bachelor’s degree programs can cost you anywhere between less than $10,000 and more than $20,000, depending on the school you choose.

Most states also require acupuncturists to be certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Master’s and doctorate degrees are offered at more than 50 accredited and pre-accredited colleges nationwide.

Although costs vary by school, acupuncture programs generally range between $30,000-$40,000.

What is the demand for acupuncturists?

According to the Council of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, there are approximately 33,000 practitioners of acupuncture and oriental medicine.

Employment is expected to grow by 10-14 percent in the next 10 years.

Acupuncturists are increasingly being incorporated into multidisciplinary teams and work alongside medical practitioners in order to relieve the discomfort associated with a variety of illnesses and disorders.

How long does it take to become an acupuncturist?

If you want to become an acupuncturist you must first earn a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.

A bachelor’s degree program can usually be completed in 4 years.

Afterward, you have to enroll at a program offered by an accredited school of acupuncture and oriental medicine.

The length of training is between 2-4 years at most schools.

The training program should include classroom lessons in Oriental medical theory, diagnosis, and treatment, but also clinical training.

Future acupuncturists also receive training in counseling, communication, and ethics.

After earning your Master’s degree in acupuncture you will be eligible to sit for the licensing exam offered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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