Naturopathic Health Careers: Salary and Career Facts
Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in naturopathic health. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information.
What Is a Naturopath Practitioner?
Naturopathic practitioners stand by a philosophy of treating the whole person instead of the person's local symptoms, favoring natural, time-tested remedies over drugs and surgeries. Some career choices you might consider in this field are dietitian and nutritionist, or perhaps a career as a massage therapist. As a dietician and nutritionist, you would help patients by reviewing the types of foods they are eating and helping them create new eating plans to alleviate health problems or accomplish various goals. Massage therapists provide treatment to clients via massages, which could include other services like aromatherapy or acupuncture. Consider the information in the following table to determine if a naturopathic health career is right for you.
|Dietitians and Nutritionists||Massage Therapists|
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Education Field of Study||Nutrition, psychology, chemistry, biology||Anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology|
|Training Required||Internships common||500 hours in a postsecondary program|
|Key Skills||Analytical, organizational, problem solving, listening and speaking skills||Communication, decision making, empathy, physical strength and dexterity|
|Licensure or Certification Required||Required by most states||Required in 45 states and the District of Columbia|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||11% for all dietitians and nutritionists*||22% for all massage therapists*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$60,370 for all dietitians and nutritionists*||$41,420 for all massage therapists*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What Naturopathic Careers Can I Find?
There are many naturopathic careers, and practitioners can be found working in various businesses and clinics. Some common job titles in this field include naturopathic physician, acupuncturist, nutritionist and massage therapist. Each has its own training and requirements, but all promote health from physical, emotional and mental perspectives.
Naturopathic physicians are doctors who blend the scientific perspective of modern Western medicine with traditional principles. They are often trained in several natural healing techniques, such as homeopathic medicine and acupuncture. Acupuncturists practice an ancient Chinese treatment that manipulates the flow of energy in the body by placing needles into particular points. Nutritionists and dietitians teach patients how their diet affects their health and contributes to disease risk. Massage therapists soothe pain, alleviate stress and treat sports injuries by manipulating muscles using one of more than 80 techniques.
What Should I Study?
The level of education or certification you need depends on your chosen naturopathic career. You do not necessarily need a 4-year degree to have a career in healthcare, but a higher level of education is required for professions that diagnose and treat patients.
To become a naturopathic physician, it may be useful to study pre-med or science at the undergraduate level before continuing on to a 4-year graduate-level naturopathic medical school. In a naturopathic medical school, you would spend another four years training to use different techniques, such as acupuncture and homeopathic medicine. Upon graduation, you receive a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND). Some states require licensure, which can be obtained with your degree and passing a test.
Nutritionists and dietitians must at least have a bachelor's degree to practice, and some states require further licensure, certification or registration. Most states require you to have a license to practice acupuncture or massage therapy. A master's degree is needed for most jobs in acupuncture. To become a massage therapist, you need to attend an accredited school and complete 500 hours of study, as well as pass a state or nationally recognized examination to earn your license.
Where Could I Work?
Most healthcare workers hold positions in general medical hospitals or physician's offices. Naturopathic physicians may find work in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. Nutritionists and dietitians can work in private practices, integrative clinics and non-profit organizations. An acupuncturist might find a position in a hospital or multidisciplinary clinic. As a massage therapist, you might be self-employed in a private office or work for a hospital, gym or airport.
How Much Could I Earn?
Earnings for those in naturopathic careers vary depending on the career and level of education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage in the health diagnosing and treating practitioners category was $73,960 (www.bls.gov). This May 2018 statistic included naturopathic physicians.
The BLS also reported the wages of nutritionists and massage therapists during May 2018. The median annual wage for nutritionists and dietitians was $60,370, and massage therapists earned $41,420. The BLS doesn't collect wage data for acupuncturists, but Payscale.com reported a wide range of salaries for this career. As of November 2019, most made between $30,000 - $81,000
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Another job you could pursue with a bachelor's degree is a career as an exercise physiologist. These professionals develop fitness plans specifically for individuals who have had certain injuries or illnesses. The plans are designed to help them recover and regain body functions and flexibility. You could also become a physical therapist assistant with an associate's degree, which involves working under physical therapists to provide treatment to patients helping to improve their mobility after accidents or surgeries.