I believe I have found some answers from you, a rapresentative of the
AOMAlliance www.aomalliance.org was extremely kind and answered a set
of questions for me. I prepared the questions so that the answers
could help you in making an educated choice for your change of career.
If you need more info just let me know and I will do more research.
Following are my questions with the respective answers
- What are the requirements to become an Acupuncturist?
The requirements to practice acupuncture are determined by each
individual state and vary according to the different states. In most
states across the country the requirement is graduation from an
accredited school of acupuncture and successfully passing the national
There are more than 50 schools of acupuncture accredited in the United
States. Accreditation is done by the Accreditation Commission for
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) which is recognized for this
purpose by the U.S. Department of Education. To be accredited, a
school must meet a number of standards for facilities, faculty and
program. The degree program is at the Master?s level or higher and
typically includes more than 3,000 hours of instruction and supervised
clinical practice. It takes approximately three years to earn the
degree. For most schools, a bachelor?s degree and proficiency in
English language is required. Information about ACAOM and a list of
schools can be found at www.acaom.org. A few states, including
California, do their own accrediting of schools and may recognize
schools within and outside of the boundaries of the state.
- Which certification are needed?
For most states, certification involves passing the certification
examination of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). This examination is offered several
times each year at different locations around the country. To be
eligible to take the examination, a candidate must have graduated from
an accredited school of acupuncture. To maintain certification
through a career, an acupuncturist may be required to participate in
Continuing Education courses approved by the NCCAOM and submitted to
them every two years. Some states, notably California, operate their
own certification system and examination and do not use the NCCAOM.
Information about certification may be found at www.nccaom.org.
- Which licenses are needed?
Licensing requirements vary widely from state to state for
acupuncturists. In addition, many states permit other health
professionals to practice acupuncture under different rules.
Physicians are often permitted to practice acupuncture with little or
no additional training. In some states physicians, chiropractors,
naturopaths, and other healthcare professionals may be allowed to
practice acupuncture with as little as 100 to 300 hours of
instruction. National organizations like the AOMAlliance
(www.aomalliance.org) encourage the public to seek out the help of
fully trained acupuncturists, usually designated by the letters L.Ac.
(Licensed Acupuncturist) following their names. These are the
professionals with the most complete education and training in the
field of acupuncture.
- What are the typical starting salaries?
Most acupuncturists do not receive salaries, but work to develop a
private practice. The financial rewards of these practices vary
widely with experience, entrepreneurial ability, location, and a host
of other factors. In general, many brand new acupuncturists find the
first few years to be financially challenging. A well established
practice will ultimately yield a comfortable living for a family,
ranging from $30,000 per year up. The most successful acupuncturists
may make up to ten times that amount.
More and more acupuncturists are joining integrated medical
establishments such as hospitals, larger clinics, etc. These
practitioners often receive salaries and are typically compensated
similarly to the higher end technical people or at the lower end of
the scale for physicians.
- Are there major salary differences between various US states?
The economics of acupuncture mirror the economy of the nation, with
the largest financial rewards coming on the coasts and in urban and
suburban areas. Nearly half of the acupuncturists in the United
States are found in California. The most lucrative practices are
found there and in the northeastern U.S.
- What is the typical salary at age 40?
For many practitioners, acupuncture is a second career. Many do not
begin practice until after the age of 40. For those who move straight
from college to acupuncture school and then into practice, the age of
40 will have seen them in practice for about 15 years. Acupuncturists
who have remained in practice for 15 years (regardless of age) fall
into the category of well-established practices that usually yield
$30,000 annually or more.
- How long does it take for the practice to be established?
Most new practitioners find the first three to five years to be the
most difficult. We find that success is usually established by the
fifth year, if not sooner.
- How many clients are expected per day?
There are several different practice methods for acupuncturists. Some
choose to operate much like consulting physicians, dealing with a
single patient at a time. Typically they charge higher fees per
patient and see four or five patients a day. Others operate more like
clinics, with two or three practice rooms working together. Their
fees may be less and they may see eight to twelve patients daily.
Some acupuncturists practice community-style acupuncture and treat
patients in groups. The largest of these clinics may see more than 50
patients every day.
- What are the opportunities for career progression?
Career progression opportunities in acupuncture are closely related to
the notion that most practitioners are in private practice.
Successful practitioners often find their practices expanding beyond
their own ability to serve them. They may bring in additional
acupuncturists, or add other professionals such as massage therapists
or Chinese herbalists to provide a wider range of services. They
often receive invitations to assist in other medical establishments.
The very best find their way into the schools as teachers.
- How much demand for acupuncturist is there?
Demand for acupuncture is growing exponentially in America. The
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) an
arm of the National Institutes for Health, has documented the
ever-growing number of Americans seeking assistance from all forms of
complementary medicine, including acupuncture. At present, nearly 50%
of the population routinely turns to one form of complementary
medicine or another. While the number is smaller for acupuncture,
there are still an estimated 3 million active or former acupuncture
- Will the demand grow in the future?
Federal labor needs statistics have estimated the need for
acupuncturists at nearly 100 thousand within the next ten years. Our
current educational system will not be able to create that many, but
they will find themselves increasingly in demand year by year.
Prospects for a career in acupuncture are becoming dramatically more
- How many acupuncturists are in the US?
It depends on what you count. Our best guess is that there are
between 22 and 23 thousand practicing acupuncturists. This includes
estimates of those practicing underground in urban ethnic communities
or in states where the practice is not regulated by law. There is a
like number of other practitioners who provide some acupuncture as
part of other practices. In all, we estimate that as many as 45,000
individuals offer acupuncture across the country. Only about half of
these are fully trained and licensed.
- How many there will be in the next 10 years?
We anticipate that the number of licensed acupuncturists will double
over the next ten years.
- How do you see the trend in acupuncture in the next 10 years?
It is becoming increasingly clear that the American healthcare
delivery system is in transition. As traditional Western medicine
becomes more expensive and health insurance falls out of the means of
more and more people, there has begun a movement to find more cost
efficient alternatives. Acupuncture provides very effective treatment
for many conditions at a fraction of the cost. It is also part of
that complex of patient-centered approaches that focuses on wellness,
rather than rescue from illness. Most policy analysts expect all
forms of complementary and alternative medicine, especially
acupuncture and Oriental medicine, to gain dramatically in popularity
over the next few years. The medicine is safe, effective, less
expensive, and less intrusive than modern scientific remedies relying
on drugs or surgery. Prospects for acupuncturists have never been