Herbal Therapist: Career and Salary Facts

Learn how herbal therapists cultivate and prepare herbal remedies to promote health and healing in a variety of career paths. Continue reading to learn about employment options and education programs related to herbal therapy. Schools offering Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Herbal Therapist Do?

Herbal therapists, sometimes called herbalists, cultivate herbs and use them to prepare herbal remedies that promote health and wellness, either through disease treatment or disease prevention. Herbal therapists meet with clients who want to discuss their symptoms and/or health goals, and then they design an herbal treatment strategy that best meets their needs. Some herbal therapists practice a specific herbal tradition, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda or Native American medicine.

Read the following chart to explore career expectations for herbalists.

Degree Required Unaccredited programs available; bachelor's or master's in herbal sciences; doctorate in oriental medicine and acupuncture
Education Field of Study Herbalism, herbal sciences, oriental medicine, acupuncture
Licensure not required
Key Skills Advanced knowledge of plants and their unique and combined chemical properties
Median Salary (2017) $40,000*

Source: *PayScale.com.

What Is Herbal Therapy?

Herbal therapy promotes health and wellness using the healing properties of plants. Practicing herbalists work to advance disease prevention and nutrition by combining herbs to create natural remedies. Herbal therapy dates back centuries as part of many cultural traditions. Today, herbs are used as part of daily living in bath and body products, nutritional supplements and traditional medicines. According to holisticonline.com, 25% of today's prescription drugs contain at least one herb.

Where Will I Work?

Herbal therapists are found in a wide range of careers, from wellness coaching to consulting at a resort or spa. You can work in the retail or wholesale business as an owner or a consultant, or you can teach or become a healthcare worker in a holistic health clinic. There is no specific licensing for an herbal therapist in the U.S. as there are for other positions within the healthcare field.

Only licensed health practitioners, such as physicians, registered nurses and chiropractors, can diagnose and treat with herbal therapy, but certificate programs can lead to consultant or wellness coach positions.

What Education Will I Need?

Generally, courses are science-based, and with a bachelor's degree in science you can move into graduate studies in Oriental medicine, botany, nutrition or nursing. According to the American Herbalists Guild, there are several 2-3 year programs devoted to herbal medicine.

In addition, there are several Master of Science degree programs in Oriental medicine and a limited number of Doctor of Naturopathy (N.D.) programs through which you can focus on herbal formulas and therapy as part of an integrative medicine curriculum that leads to licensing and certification. Licensing requirements for practicing Oriental medicine therapies vary by state. Some states require you to have graduated from an Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine-accredited school to qualify for licensing, and others use the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine's written examination as a licensing criterion. N.D.s can be licensed in sixteen states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

For those currently in the medical health field, certificate programs can help you incorporate herbal therapy into your practice. The American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) states that nurses can choose to specialize in holistic nursing, a specialty recognized by the American Nurses Association (www.ahna.org). Other programs prepare you as a retailer or a manufacturer of herbal remedies and body products in order to open your own business.

How Much Can I Earn?

There are few statistics relative to salaries for herbalists, but PayScale.com reported a median annual salary of $40,000 in 2017. The American Herbalists Guild (AHG) (www.americanherbalistsguild.com) reported a salary range that starts as low as $20,000 and soars as high as $120,000. The AHG also states that most herbalists supplement their income with a variety of topical professional activities (which may require unique certification) including teaching, writing and consulting in their field.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of becoming an herbal therapist, you could practice a different nontraditional therapeutic technique, such as massage. Massage therapists use soft tissue manipulation to relieve pain, increase circulation and promote general wellness. For this job, you would need to complete a professional training program. Alternatively, you could consider becoming a dietitian. They design meal plans for clients, using food and nutritional supplements to help them maintain their health, manage a disease or achieve a goal such as weight loss. Dietitians need to have at least a bachelor's degree.

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:

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