Naturopathic Doctor: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a naturopathic doctor. Learn about education and licensing requirements, job duties 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 is a Naturopathic Doctor?

Naturopathic doctors use alternative treatment methods, like herbal medicine, meditation and acupuncture, to care for patients. They are also knowledgeable in traditional modern medicine. When first working with patients they conduct interviews to assess the patients condition. Like other physicians, at the interview stage they document medical history, family medical history and psychosocial conditions. They may also conduct physical examinations and physiological tests. The following chart provides an overview about becoming an naturopathic doctor.

Degree Required Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.)
Training Required 1- to 2-year residency
Licensure 16 states require naturopathic doctors to be licensed
Key Responsibilities Obtain and document patient history, symptoms and health issues; order diagnostic tests and analyze results; make diagnosis and prescribe treatments and therapies including homeopathy, herbal, Oriental medicine or other techniques and agents to stimulate the body to heal itself
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9-13%*
Average Salary (2016) $74,032**

Source: *O*Net Online, **Payscale.com

What is a Naturopathic Doctor?

A naturopathic doctor (ND) is a medical professional who examines patients, diagnoses health problems and prescribes natural therapies, such as changes in diet, acupuncture and herbal medicine, to aid in healing. Naturopathic doctors seek to treat the entire body and not just one ailment or one bodily system. When an ND prescribes a treatment, it is based on medical testing and an understanding of the patient's mental, spiritual and physical health.

Patient education is part of a naturopathic doctor's job. NDs teach their patients about natural healing methods. An ND may provide lessons in how to prevent disease through diet, exercise and relaxation.

What Education Do I Need?

To become a naturopathic doctor, you must first complete a bachelor's degree program. Your undergraduate degree should be in a field of science and should cover biology, physics, biochemistry, anatomy, organic chemistry and psychology. Some schools may require more or less prerequisite courses.

Next, you should complete a 4-year naturopathic doctor graduate program. Schools accredited by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) typically require four years of study and some require a 1-2 year residency. Required courses for an ND program may include general science courses and courses in traditional medical specialties such as gastroenterology, gynecology, immunology, obstetrics, oncology, cardiology, geriatrics and neurology, to name a few.

Non-traditional required medical courses may include:

  • Hydrotherapy
  • Environmental medicine
  • Botanical medicine
  • Manipulation therapy
  • Homeopathy
  • Oriental medicine
  • Meditation

What Kind of License Do I Need?

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring doctors of naturopathy to be licensed. In order to obtain a license you need to have graduated from an accredited ND program and pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) given by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners. Once licensed, annual continuing education courses are required to maintain your credentials.

What Salary Could I Earn?

According to industry research reported by the AANMC, many NDs are self-employed. Additionally, your income could average $80,000 to $90,000 annually in an established practice, contingent on factors like geography, experience and business acumen. PayScale.com reported that in October, 2016, the median income for naturopathic doctors in the United States was $74,032.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Since NDs have to have a considerable about amount of knowledge regarding modern traditional medicine, they can be compared to various types of traditional medical doctors. The closest being family and general practitioners. Like ND's, family and general practitioners work with patients with common illness and injuries. General internists is another related career. These physicians help patients with diseases or injuries in internal organs without the use of surgical procedures. Obstetricians are physicians who provide healthcare to women. They also aid in the maintaining healthy pregnancies and childbirth.

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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  • Regent University

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    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral

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  • Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences

    Campus Locations:

    • Arizona: Tempe
  • National University of Health Sciences

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    • Illinois: Lombard
  • National College of Natural Medicine

    Campus Locations:

    • Oregon: Portland
  • Bastyr University

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    • Washington: Kenmore
  • Stanford University

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    • California: Stanford
  • Harvard University

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    • Massachusetts: Cambridge
  • University of Pennsylvania

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    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • University of Bridgeport

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    • Connecticut: Bridgeport
  • Duke University

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    • North Carolina: Durham