Herbalist: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as an herbalist. Read on to learn more about career options along with job duties and education requirements. Schools offering Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Herbalist?

Herbalists use alternative medicine and herbal remedies to treat their patients. These professionals need to be knowledgeable not only of the effects of various herbs, but of anatomy, physiology, pathology and other human sciences as well. They often work with other alternative medicine practitioners and traditional healthcare workers as well. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about a career in this field.

Education Required Varies from a high school diploma to a doctoral degree
Education Field of Study Herbology, acupuncture and oriental medicine or a related field
Key Responsibilities Prescribe natural herbs and plants to patients to promote health
Licensure Not recognized in most states; related healthcare practitioners, like acupuncturists, often need licensure or certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 17% for all health diagnosing and treating practitioners
Salary (2017)** $20,000-$120,000 per year

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **American Herbalists Guild

What Are the Job Duties?

Herbalists may be secondary or primary health care providers, and they generally begin with a diagnosis of the patient based on medical history. This history includes such factors as lifestyle and dietary choices. Typically after diagnosing a problem, the herbalist would then come up with a herbal plan aimed at remedying the problem with the patient's consent. This herbal remedy may involve a specific type of alternative medicine, such as Ayurvedic medicine.

What Are the Job Options?

According to the American Herbalist's Guild, herbalists may work as native healers, scientists, naturopaths, holistic doctors, research writers and herbal pharmacists. Some career options are geared toward a specific type of herbal medicine, such as acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine. Typically, the type of career and the consumer demand for the specialized technique determines where you'd work and reside.

What Kind of Career Outlook Does an Herbalist Have?

As interest in holistic and alternative medicine increases, demand for complementary and alternative herbalists will increase. Most herbalists are self-employed, but they may also work as consultants in conjunction with doctors of modern medicine. Once qualified, you could secure work in a modern health facility, an alternative medicine facility or a wellness centers. Often, you may also go into business, selling helpful herbs and herbal remedies. The job market for herbalists is small.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

Becoming an herbalist doesn't require a specific degree, but most herbalists have a background in the relevant sciences. For instance, a degree in botany, nutrition or biology might prepare you for the career. A general degree should include classes in anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, medical terminology and nutrition.

While a specific herb-related degree isn't required to become an herbalist, some programs are available. An example bachelor degree in herbal sciences may include topics such as botanical identification, disease prevention, medical herb applications and health maintenance.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you're interested in herbalism but want to look at other careers in the alternative medicine field as well, consider branching out into traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) or Ayurveda. Practitioners of TCM typically practice a variety of treatment techniques that include not only herbalism but also acupuncture and massage. Most TCM practitioners hold a master's degree, and professional licensure is usually required in order to administer acupuncture treatments. Practitioners of Ayurveda use herbal medicine in conjunction with meditation, body postures and breathing exercises to promote healing.

If you're equally interested in more traditional healthcare careers, you might look into dietetics and nutrition. Dietitians and nutritionists assess dietary needs and craft meal plans for individuals and groups that emphasize overall health and well-being. Both careers require at least a bachelor's degree, and licensure is necessary in many states as well.

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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