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 to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does An Herbalist Do?

An herbalist takes a natural approach to the treatment of various medical conditions. They work with clients and patients on an individual basis, listening to their health care concerns and illnesses. They then may design a treatment plan based on herbal supplements and medicines to treat the conditions. Herbalists believe there is great medicinal power in many natural herbs and plants which can be used to create holistic cures and treatments. The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as an herbalist.

Education Required Professional training in herbology; graduate degree for naturopathic physicians
Education Field of Study Herbal sciences, botanical medicine
Key Responsibilities Consult with doctors regarding treatments, heal patient afflictions, advise patients on nutrition
Job Growth (2014-2024) 17% (for all health diagnosing and treating practitioners)*
Average Salary (2017) $149,813**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **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. An 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.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

For those individuals who have an interest in more natural medicine approaches, they may wish to pursue a naturopathic medicine degree. These professionals treat and diagnose illnesses using natural remedies, medicines, and herbs. A career in acupuncture may also be of interest, as it is also a type of alternative health care and involves treating various illnesses and ailments with carefully placed needles all over the body.

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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