How to Become an Acupuncturist in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for acupuncturist. Get the facts about education, salary, licensing requirements and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Acupuncture is an ancient kind of Chinese medicine that maintains a patient's health by inserting needles into specific points on the body. The following chart provides an overview about becoming an acupuncturist.

Degree Required Master's or doctor's degree
Field of Study Acupuncture
Key Responsibilities Interview, examine, diagnose and treat patients using acupuncture techniques; assess patient's skin and tissue to properly place needles; take medical histories
Certification or Licensing Some states require acupuncturists to be medical doctors or chiropractors; most states require acupuncturists to be licensed; professional certification is available
Average Salary (2014) $46,536*

Source: *Payscale.com

What Is an Acupuncturist?

Acupuncture is a system of healing based on the practice of needling, which is the strategic placement of needles at various points on the body in an effort to alleviate and eliminate chronic pain and treat many ailments. Acupuncturists may also use other forms of treatment, such as herbs and suggested diet changes. Many acupuncturists work in holistic health centers or have a private practice.

Step 1: Researching an Acupuncturist's Career Duties and Education

Acupuncturists balance the body's health by puncturing the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles. The technique balances the yin and the yang, where yin represents the cold, slow or passive principle while yang represents the hot, excited or active principle. You can use these techniques to reduce specific pains in the body. Some colleges and universities offer master's and doctoral programs in acupuncture, which fulfill the requirements for licensure in most states.

Step 2: Get Educated

Alternative medicine schools offer courses or degrees for acupuncturists, and some colleges and universities have programs in the field. You can learn about meridian theory, therapeutic techniques and equipment, clinical strategies and methodologies, functions and indications, point location and needle manipulation in acupuncture treatment. The most common degrees are a Master of Science in Acupuncture or a Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. A few schools offer Doctor of Acupuncture Oriental Medicine (DAOM)) programs. Degree programs prepare graduates to qualify for licensure, which requires you to graduate from a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).

Step 3: Become Licensed as an Acupuncturist

Most states require you to obtain licensure before you can practice acupuncture; however, these requirements vary from state to state. Most states accept certification from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), which can take you 3-5 years to earn. Some states, including California and Texas, require additional clinical or academic hours. Other states stipulate that students pass the Clean Needle Technique (CNT) exam administered by Council of College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM). Last of all, many states specify that a student interested in becoming an acupuncturist must study to become a chiropractor or medical doctor first.

Step 4: Get a Job Practicing Acupuncture

Many acupuncturists are self-employed and take referrals from doctors and alternative medicine professionals. They may also work directly with chiropractors or for oriental medicine centers. Some medical doctors and chiropractors use acupuncture as a treatment in their practices.

Step 5: Become a Primary Care Practitioner as an Acupuncturist

Some insurance companies include acupuncture as a covered treatment. They generally pay for acupuncture treatments for chronic muscle pain, stress, PMS and other common pain symptoms. As insurance companies become more open to alternative medicine, career opportunities for acupuncturists will increase.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

Popular Schools

  • Ashford University

    Ashford University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Ashford University:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of Phoenix

    University of Phoenix responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at University of Phoenix:

    Online and Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Anywhere: Online Campus
    • Arizona: Online Campus, Tempe, Tucson
    • California: Online Campus, Tempe, Tucson, Costa Mesa, Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose
    • Colorado: Online Campus, Tempe, Tucson, Costa Mesa, Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Lone Tree
    • Florida: Online Campus, Tempe, Tucson, Costa Mesa, Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Lone Tree, Ft Lauderdale
    • Hawaii: Online Campus, Tempe, Tucson, Costa Mesa, Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Lone Tree, Ft Lauderdale, Honolulu
    • Michigan: Online Campus, Tempe, Tucson, Costa Mesa, Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Lone Tree, Ft Lauderdale, Honolulu, Detroit
    • Texas: Online Campus, Tempe, Tucson, Costa Mesa, Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Lone Tree, Ft Lauderdale, Honolulu, Detroit, Austin, Dallas, Houston
  • Kaplan University

    Kaplan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Kaplan University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of the Rockies

    University of the Rockies responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at University of the Rockies:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Walden University

    Walden University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Walden University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Baker College Online

    Baker College Online responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Baker College Online:

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Joseph's University

    Saint Joseph's University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Joseph's University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Brandman University

    Brandman University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Brandman University:

    • Certificates

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • California: Culver City, Fairfield, Hanford, Irvine, Menifee, Monterey, Ontario, Palm Desert, Palmdale, Riverside, Roseville, Salida, San Diego, Santa Clarita, Santa Maria, Victorville, Visalia, Walnut Creek, Yuba City
    • Washington: Culver City, Fairfield, Hanford, Irvine, Menifee, Monterey, Ontario, Palm Desert, Palmdale, Riverside, Roseville, Salida, San Diego, Santa Clarita, Santa Maria, Victorville, Visalia, Walnut Creek, Yuba City, Lacey
  • Steiner Education Group

    Steiner Education Group responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Steiner Education Group:

    • Certificates

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Arizona: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson
    • Colorado: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster
    • Connecticut: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport
    • Florida: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Miami, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach
    • Illinois: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Miami, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Joliet
    • Massachusetts: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Miami, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Joliet, Watertown
    • Maryland: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Miami, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Joliet, Watertown, Linthicum
    • New Jersey: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Miami, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Joliet, Watertown, Linthicum, Hoboken, Wall Township
    • Nevada: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Miami, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Joliet, Watertown, Linthicum, Hoboken, Wall Township, Las Vegas
    • Pennsylvania: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Miami, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Joliet, Watertown, Linthicum, Hoboken, Wall Township, Las Vegas, King of Prussia, York
    • Texas: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Miami, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Joliet, Watertown, Linthicum, Hoboken, Wall Township, Las Vegas, King of Prussia, York, Arlington, Houston, Richardson
    • Utah: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Miami, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Joliet, Watertown, Linthicum, Hoboken, Wall Township, Las Vegas, King of Prussia, York, Arlington, Houston, Richardson, Lindon, Salt Lake City
    • Virginia: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Miami, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Joliet, Watertown, Linthicum, Hoboken, Wall Township, Las Vegas, King of Prussia, York, Arlington, Houston, Richardson, Lindon, Salt Lake City, Charlottesville
    • Washington: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Groton, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Miami, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Joliet, Watertown, Linthicum, Hoboken, Wall Township, Las Vegas, King of Prussia, York, Arlington, Houston, Richardson, Lindon, Salt Lake City, Charlottesville, Federal Way, Seattle
  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Technical University

    Colorado Technical University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado Technical University:

    Online Programs Available

  • American InterContinental University

    American InterContinental University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American InterContinental University:

    Online Programs Available