How to Become an Herbalist in 5 Steps
Research what it takes to become an herbalist. Learn about the job duties, education requirements, job outlook, and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Career Information At a Glance
An herbalist uses plants to help treat various medical conditions, such as arthritis, allergies and skin problems. The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as an herbalist.
Training Required | courses, workshops, associate's, bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study | holistic health, western herbalism, botanical medicine
Key Responsibilities | teach people how to use traditional herbs to assist with health
Job Growth (2012-22) | 8% to 14% for naturopathic physicians*
Average Salary (2015) | $71, 000 for herbalists**
Source: *O*NET OnLine, **Indeed.com
What Is an Herbalist?
Herbalists are trained in the use of natural herbs and minerals in the treatment of simple and complex medical issues, though they are not recognized as licensed doctors and cannot prescribe medications. They may teach people how to supplement their health needs with traditional herbs. As an herbalist, you could work as a counselor, healer or teacher. If you wish to become licensed, you can become a naturopathic doctor or acupuncturist.
Step 1: Research an Herbalist's Career Duties and Education
Herbalists focus on plant medicines to alleviate sickness and promote health. They use plants to treat illness and assist the healing efforts of the body. Plant materials, including herbs, mushrooms, bark and roots, have various properties, and herbalists draw on many species in the plant kingdom. Herbalists usually work as consultants in conjunction with medical doctors because the government does not license them or legally recognize them as professional healthcare members. To become an herbalist, you can pursue two training paths: courses, workshops and seminars, or a degree program.
Step 2: Path One: Earn a Degree
Some universities offer courses and degrees in botanical medicine or herbal sciences. You can learn current scientific information and knowledge that is centuries old, including how to prevent disease and maintain health using herbs. Issues involved in manufacturing herbal products and quality assurance are also covered. You can also find some programs that offer an associate's program in holistic health with an emphasis in western herbalism or a bachelor's degree in herbal studies.
Step 3: Path Two: Take Courses
You can find a variety of classes, seminars and conferences in herbology offered by private organizations, schools and professionals. The American Herbalists Guild offers practical advice about choosing the proper program or training class and educational guidelines regarding core competencies essential to an herbal education (www.americanherbalistsguild.com).
Step 4: Work as Counselor
Herbalists can work as counselors, healers and teachers, helping people heal current maladies and improve their general nutrition. A herbalist may become a naturopathic doctor or acupuncturist if they want to practice medicine earn appropriate licensure. These careers require further education.
Step 5: Establish a Practice and Client Base
Many herbalists are self-employed and teach people to use herbal remedies. You can grow your own products for clients or run your own business. This can involve distributing the herbs or operating a retail store. Some herbalists work in medical centers or other alternative health clinics. Others enter the field of ethnobotany, which is the use of plants for religious and medical purposes, to research or teach. According to O*NET OnLine, the job outlook for a naturopathic physician for 2012-22 is 8% to 14%. Indeed.com reported the average salary of an herbalist is $71,000 a year.
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