Holistic Health Practitioner: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a holistic health practitioner. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information. Schools offering Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Holistic Health Practitioner?

Holistic health practitioners promote health and wellness in their patients by supporting the whole person on his or her path toward optimal health. Often, they consider both the physical and psychological aspects of health. There are several occupations in which it is possible to practice the principles of holistic health. For example, massage therapists use the manipulation of muscle and soft tissue to induce physical effects, such as pain reductions and improved circulation, as well as psychological benefits, such as relaxation and stress reduction. They also document the patient's progress over time so that they can make changes as needed. Another holistic health practitioner job option is an acupuncturist. They insert sterile needles into patients' skin for disease treatment, chronic condition management or illness prevention. Depending on the patient's condition, they may provide a single acupuncture treatment or a series of treatments over the course of several weeks or months. Finally, it is possible to practice holistic health as a regular doctor. Doctors diagnose and treat diseases in traditional medical settings, like hospitals and clinics, but they may integrate ideas of holistic health into their practice.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Massage Therapist Acupuncturist Physician
Degree Required Postsecondary non-degree award Master's degree Doctoral degree
Licensure/Certification Required Certification required Licensure required Licensure required
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 22%* 11%** 7%*
Median Salary (2018) $41,420* $73,960** (median) Over $200,890*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **O*Net OnLine

Which Specialties Could I Pursue as a Holistic Health Practitioner?

Holistic health practices differ from conventional, or Western, medicine. Careers in alternative medicine, however, may also blend Western and non-traditional medicine; this is called complementary or integrative medicine.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) uses three basic categories, each with a variety of specialties. The first, mind and body medicine, includes acupuncture and yoga. The second, manipulative and body-based practices, include chiropractic and massage, and the third, whole medical systems, include Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine (www.nccam.nih.gov).

What Types of Activities Would I Perform?

As a massage therapist, you would work with soft-tissue manipulations to maintain client health and to treat sports injuries, stress and other issues. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you may focus on one or more types of massage techniques; these include acupressure, deep-tissue massage and neuromuscular massage (www.bls.gov).

If you pursue a career in acupuncture, according to a December 2011 CareerBuilder.com search, your options include working for a medical group. While under a doctor's supervision, you would insert and remove needles, interview and provide information and monitor and assess client health. Another CareerBuilder.com search in December 2011 indicated that you could also work in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.

If you are interested in complementary medicine, you could become an osteopathic doctor or D.O. According to the BLS, in addition to performing traditional medicine, an osteopath also focuses on preventative and holistic medicine. According to a December 2011 Monster.com search, your activities would include taking patient histories, giving examinations, providing diagnoses, developing treatment plans and addressing preventative and long-term care needs.

What Requirements Do I Need to Meet?

The requirements will depend upon the type of practitioner you become. A December 2011 search for massage therapists at CareerBuilder.com indicated that in addition to a degree in massage therapy, you would need certification in an area such as occupational therapy. Other criteria include prior experience working in a school or rehabilitation program. Another CareerBuilder.com search stated that you would need to complete at least 500 hours of study, comply with state laws and regulations, pass a background check and have liability insurance.

According to a December 2011 CareerBuilder.com search for acupuncturist positions, you would need to graduate from an accredited program, have an unrestricted state license and a minimum of six months experience.

If you are interested in being an osteopathic physician, then according to a December 2011 search at Monster.com, you would need to have a doctorate degree from an accredited school. In addition to completing at least one year of residency in your chosen specialty, other requirements include an unrestricted license, U.S. citizenship and English fluency.

What Salary May I Expect?

Your salary will depend upon a variety of factors. These include experience and the type of practice you choose to enter. Another factor would be whether you choose to go into private practice or work in a clinic or other service provider.

If you choose to become a massage therapist, according to the BLS statistics for May 2018, the median wage is $19.92 per hour and $41,420 per year. The median wage for acupuncturists, according to the O*Net OnLine 2018 Summary Report, is $35.56 per hour and $73,960 per year (www.onetonline.org). The median wage for doctors, according to the BLS statistics for May 2018, is greater than $96.00 per hour or $200,000 per year; more specific figures are not available.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another area of medicine that you might be interested in working in is physical therapy. As a physical therapist, you would typically treat patients who are recovering from injuries or coping with mobility-related medical conditions. Physical therapists help alleviate pain using techniques such as ultrasound, and they teach patients exercises to help them increase their strength and flexibility. For this job, you need a doctoral degree. If you are looking for a lower-level position in the medical field, you could consider becoming a medical assistant. They support the work of doctors by performing clerical duties and providing basic patient care, like taking vital signs and assisting with examinations. Another holistic health-related option is a job as a dietitian. Dietitians design meal plans for clients who want to use nutrition to improve their health or deal with a particular disease. The minimum educational requirement for this job is 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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