How Can I Become a Certified Natural Health Professional?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a certified natural health professional. 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 Careers Are Available in the Natural Health Profession?

Certified natural health professionals include massage therapists, yoga instructors and chiropractors. Massage therapists apply pressure through various types of methods to provide relaxation to clients' muscles and soft tissue. Yoga instructors are responsible for leading exercise sessions and training for clients of all skill levels. Chiropractors adjust and manipulate the various joints in a client's body to provide relief or realign the bones or spine.

This article focuses on the specific Certified Natural Health Professional (CNHP) credential but also provides an overview of some other certification options. See the table below for some quick career facts about three career types that can be certified as natural health professionals.

Massage Therapist Yoga Instructor Chiropractor
Degree Required Postsecondary with 500 credit hours or more; master's for CNHP High school diploma or associate degree for most fitness trainers and instructors; master's for CNHP Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.)
Education Field of Study Massage therapy with alternative/holistic medicine or naturopathy Health, fitness with alternative/holistic medicine or naturopathy Chiropractics with alternative/holistic medicine or naturopathy
Licensure Varies by state None Required in all states
Certification Certified Natural Health Professionals (CNHP) optional Certified Natural Health Professionals (CNHP) optional Certified Natural Health Professionals (CNHP) optional
Job Growth (2014-2024) 22% (for all massage therapists)* 8% (for all fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)* 17% (for all chiropractors)*
Median Salary (2015) $38,040 (for all massage therapists)* $36,160 (for all fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)* $64,440 (for all chiropractors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do As a Certified Natural Health Professional?

The National Association of Certified Natural Health Professionals (CNHP) notes in its philosophical statement that natural health professionals seek to provide holistic health care, information and medical attention in the least invasive way possible (www.cnhp.org). As a natural health professional, you should be knowledgeable about alternatives to traditional Western medicine and the ways in which natural resources are available to alleviate medical issues. You could work in your own private practice or as an educator in your community. Areas of expertise in natural health include nutrition, herbology and acupuncture, among others.

What Education Do I Need?

Several for-profit and not-for-profit institutions of higher learning offer programs designed for aspiring natural health professionals. You might enroll in a master's degree or graduate certificate program in alternative medicine, holistic medicine or naturopathy. You should consider enrolling in a program that is accredited by an organization such as the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. CNHP also provides courses that cover five areas of general health knowledge: nutrition, body systems, iridology, body work and practicum. The CNHP offers additional specialized classes such as aromatherapy, homeopathy, herbal medicine and reflexology.

How Do I Become Certified?

Though CNHP is a certification awarded after a specific curriculum and exam have been completed, there are many other certifications available in the natural health field. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (www.ncbtmb.org) offers a credential after you've completed 500 hours of education and passed an examination. If you're interested in the growing field of yoga therapy, the Yoga Alliance (www.yogalliance.org) accredits training programs and creates standards for the yoga industry. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (www.nccaom.org) offers various certifications if you're involved in those fields. There are many certifications options available to you in the natural health field and checking for accreditation and a code of ethics can help you choose the right option.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are plenty of careers within the natural health profession. One of these is being an exercise physiologist, where you will help create a fitness plan to improve the condition of a patient's cardiovascular system or to help them recover from a disease or condition. Another career in this field is athletic training, where you will diagnose and help treat any injuries caused from strenuous physical activity by both providing immediate care as well as creating plans to help rehabilitate the injured area. These two fields require a bachelor's degree, and athletic trainers need a license.

If you are interested in furthering your education to the doctoral level, you could consider becoming a physical therapist. These therapists are responsible for treating patients through rehabilitative programs to help them regain or improve their movement. Physical therapists must also gain licensure.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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  • Strayer University

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  • George Mason University

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