Alternative Medical Treatments

If you're interested in the medical field and drawn to the preventative methods used by holistic practitioners, then a career in alternative medicine may be right for you. Read on to learn more about education, employment, salaries and specializations for alternative medicine practitioners.

Is a Career in Alternative Medicine for Me?

Career Overview

People who turn to alternative medicine do so for many reasons, ranging from unhappiness with Western medicine to religious preferences. Many simply desire a different approach that treats the entire body. Alternative medical treatments can include massage, acupuncture and herbal solutions to treat illness and maintain optimum health. Many alternative medical treatment specialists work in private practice and boutique settings. Areas of study for aspiring alternative medicine practitioners include massage and polarity therapies, homeopathy and acupuncture, among other specializations.

Employment and Salary Information

Employment opportunities and salaries for alternative medicine practitioners vary according to the area of specialization and experience in the field, particularly for those in private practice. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of massage therapists was predicted to increase by 23% nationwide between 2012 and 2022, with chiropractors would see a 15% growth in jobs during the same 10-year period. In May 2013, the median annual salary for chiropractors was $65,300, while massage therapists earned $35,920 ( As reported by in June 2014, acupuncturists and naturopathic physicians earned median annual salaries of $46,825 and $51,966, respectively.

How Can I Work in Alternative Medicine?

Educational Options

Many different specialties exist within the field of alternative medicine, and each specialty has its own education and training requirements. Formal education options include bachelor's and master's degree programs in alternative medicine. Many educational programs include a substantial amount of hands-on patient time, as opposed to classroom instruction.

Requirements for acupuncturists include a degree from an accredited allopathic or osteopathic medical school and a certification from the American Board of Medical Acupuncture ( Most states either license or regulate the activities of massage therapists, and as a high school graduate, you may qualify for admission to a 500-1,000-hour training program. Doctoral programs in naturopathic medicine may cover multiple types of alternative medicine treatments and can help you prepare for state licensing exams.

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