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Things You Should Know About Becoming an Acupuncturist

Acupuncture might not be a cure for everything, but its popularity has increased significantly in the past few years. Why should that interest you? Well, if you’re at a crossroads and don’t know which career path to follow, becoming an acupuncturist might be a good idea.

But since you’re here, then it is likely that you’ve already given it some thought. Keep in mind that despite many people not believing in alternative medicine, there are twice as many who do, meaning there’s a demand. And where’s demand, there’s money.

But before you start puncturing people with needles, there are some things you should know first. And if you wish to become an acupuncturist, there are requirements you need to meet. More on that you’ll find in the guide below.

Things You Should Know About Becoming an Acupuncturist


As you probably suspect, acupuncturists don’t grow on trees. You can’t simply decide to get a bunch of needles, create an ad, and start your career in acupuncture. It takes a little bit more than that.

If you seriously consider being an acupuncturist, the first thing you need is proper education. To make it happen, you need to find the right school/university.

It means the school must be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). To attend acupuncture classes, you usually need a bachelor’s degree, preferably in healthcare or alternative medicine.

Once you finish the program, you become a Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is the minimum requirement to become an acupuncturist in the US. You can, however, stay in school a little longer and become a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. DAOM for short.


Once you finish your studies, there’s only one thing between you and your own practice – necessary certifications. The first thing you need to pass is a Clean Needle Technique test. It’s offered by the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), and you can apply for it once you graduate.

But that might still be not enough. Various states have different requirements, and you also might be forced to obtain a few other certifications to open your acupuncture practice.

You may need:

  • Diplomate of Acupuncture
  • Diplomate of Chinese Herbology
  • Diplomate of Oriental Medicine

The Diplomate of Acupuncture means that an acupuncturist is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). In short, they’ve met the national standards in terms of safety and competence.

The second certification is the Diplomate of Chinese Herbology. Usually, it’s not required to start your work, but if you wish to add herbal expertise to your practice, getting it might be a good idea.

The last one on the list, Diplomate of Oriental Medicine, is another certification given by the NCCAOM. It states that an acupuncturist has met the requirements for both acupuncture and Chinese herbology.

Other Requirements

But getting your certifications is not enough. If you want to be a good acupuncturist, you should have a couple of other things aside from your degree.

The first one is training. Many graduates get in touch with established acupuncturists who help them kick start their career and learn what it’s like to work with patients.

Secondly, being an acupuncturist requires some necessary skills. It’s not a job for everyone. To succeed in acupuncture, you have to:

  • Pay attention to detail
  • Be well organized
  • Know how to stay focused
  • Be able to adapt quickly
  • Be friendly and sociable

Without this set of skills, even your degree won’t help you join the ranks of outstanding acupuncturists.


When it comes to an acupuncturist’s salary, it depends on a few factors – experience, location, or whether they’re self-employed or not. Usually, acupuncturists charge an hourly rate or fee per session, ranging from $8 up to even $83.

The US’s average salary is $35.02 per hour, but you might expect a little less shortly after graduation.


To sum it all up, the road to becoming an acupuncturist involves:

  • Getting a degree
  • Obtaining the necessary certifications
  • Training
  • A decision on where and how to work
  • Finding patients

As you can see, it does require some effort, but if you make the right decisions and go the extra mile, you’ll get your reward. Remember that acupuncture is still a relatively new trend in the United States, and its popularity among Americans is still growing.

But acupuncture is not all about money. If you love working with people and want to help them relieve pain and improve their health, then it’s a perfect job for you.