What Degree Do You Need To Be An Acupuncturist?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese art of healing a person of various aches, pains other health issues through the use of sterile needles on various pressure points on the patient’s body. While this is the traditional and myopic understanding of this form of treatment, acupuncturists actually perform other methods like cupping and acupressure in addition to needling to free blocked energy from the body and promote healing. Some of the health problems that acupuncture is said to have successfully treated are headaches, back pain, anxiety and depression. There are also acupuncturists who also handle fertility and addiction cases.

Acupuncture may be an ancient form of treatment but the training towards becoming an acupuncturist is intensive. No one can become an acupuncturist overnight.

According to the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, a master’s degree in acupuncture or Oriental medicine is the entry point for those interested in becoming acupuncturists. Obtaining a master’s degree in acupuncture typically takes three years while that of Oriental medicine which combines acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine will entail four years of study.

Before proceeding further, here is a little reminder for all aspiring acupuncturists: They should choose their acupuncture school wisely. They should ensure that the school they choose is already in its pre-accreditation stage or has already received full accreditation status by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). This body is the only national organization that the US Department of Education has acknowledged to accredit acupuncture and Oriental medicine schools and programs in the United States. This is your assurance that you are enrolled in a quality acupuncture program. Equally important is the fact that you can only take the national certification exams in acupuncture if you graduate from an ACAOM accredited or ACAOM candidate school.

Before you can get to formally enroll in an acupuncture school, however, you will need to fulfill other educational requirements. Some acupuncture colleges require prospective students to only complete a minimum of two years of college education before they can be admitted to the program. For many, however, a bachelor’s degree—which typically takes four years to complete— is the minimum entry requirement for acupuncture school.

An acupuncture program covers such topics as Oriental medical theory, acupuncture diagnosis and treatment types, clinical training and biomedical clinical sciences. Students are also taught topics on counseling, ethics, practice management and communication.

Acupuncturists who have already finished their master’s degree in acupuncture or Oriental medicine and have obtained the needed certifications can already practice as acupuncturists. However, there are those who opt to continue their studies to obtain a doctoral degree and choose a field of specialization in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. ACAOM-accredited schools offer the Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Degree as well as the Doctorate of Acupuncture Degree.

What about students who were able to start their acupuncture studies abroad and want to finish their studies in the US? The student’s eligibility to transfer to a school in the US will be decided on by the US school. Moreover, the receiving school will determine if earned academic credits in the foreign school will be credited.

Meanwhile, those who have already finished their acupuncture degrees in a school abroad and want to practice in the US will have to comply with the state licensure requirements such as passing the national certification exams administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). The body will also allow foreign-educated acupuncturists to send their Foreign Education Review Application (FERA) to the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officer (AACRAO). The AACRAO will help determine if a foreign governmental agency recognizes the school where the student graduated from and determines if the applicant’s courses are the same as the requirements issued by ACAOM.

After working for some time as a salaried acupuncturist, you might want to grow yourself and your career by starting your own business. If you intend to open your own practice one of these days, you might want to take up business courses that will help you operate your clinic successfully. These courses are typically offered at a community college and will help you run your operations so that you continue to stay in business and help patients suffering from various health issues.

Career Spotlight: Acupuncturist

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