What Salary Will I Earn As an Alternative Medicine Professional?

Alternative medicine includes diverse, nontraditional healthcare practices, products, and systems. You may already be using alternative healthcare methods in your everyday life, but if you'd like to turn that practice into a career, keep reading to see if this would be the right path for you. Schools offering Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Industry Defined

Alternative medicine's range of non-conventional healthcare practices, products, and systems focus on the interaction of the mind and body to treat illnesses and promote wellness. While alternative healthcare is not considered part of traditional Western medicine, it is increasingly replacing, being combined with, or being used in addition to some aspects of it.

Important Facts About Jobs in Alternative Medicine

Chiropractor Massage Therapist Holistic Health Nurse
Median Salary (2014) $66,720 $37,180$66,640 (for all registered nurses)
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 15% 23%19% (for all registered nurses)
Required Education Doctorate degree Some postsecondary experience Diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree
Licensure Required, administered by the state Most states require massage therapists to be licensed RN license required

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the use of alternative healthcare is on the rise. Official statistics on related professions are difficult to track, but you may look at established professions such as nursing, chiropractic, nutrition, or fitness to get an idea of some of the salaries that can be earned in alternative medicine.

Holistic Health Nurse

A holistic health nurse is a legally licensed nurse who incorporates holistic practices into traditional nursing. These practices focus on the mind, body, spirit, and motion, and are used in alternative medicine practices such as herbology, acupuncture, and massage. Generally, holistic nursing is the practice of caring for the whole person and holistic nurses assist individuals in living their lives as fully as possible, according to the American Holistic Nurses' Certification Corporation (AHNCC).


Chiropractors treat pain and promote wellness by making external adjustments to and manipulations of the body's muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems. These professionals typically work full time, with a schedule based around appointments.

Massage Therapist

Massage therapists relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, and promote wellness by kneading, stimulating, and manipulating muscles and tissue. Typically, these practitioners work part time, also around a schedule that is based on appointments with clients.


An acupuncturist uses the strategic placement of needles throughout the body to alleviate chronic pain and treat ailments. They may also use other forms of treatment, including herbs and nutrition as complements to their work. Licensure for acupuncturists is regulated by the state. Graduate and postgraduate programs are available in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. According to PayScale.com, acupuncturists had a median annual salary of $48,782, as of September 2015.

Other Careers to Consider

Because alternative medicine practices are growing, there are more emerging professions to consider. According to the BLS, an emerging profession is one in which current numbers are small, but growth is expected. Some of the growing alternative medicine areas are associated with gerontology, herbology, homeopathy, and naturopathy.

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