How To Become an Acupuncturist

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: September 20, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Health
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If you want to provide alternative health treatments for patients, becoming an acupuncturist is a good career choice. This career choice in the medical field offers plenty of rewards.

As an Acupuncturist, you will likely work with patients dealing with many issues. You may work with those suffering from pain or dealing with a specific type of illness. There are many ways you can help others in this type of career.

Before you decide to become an acupuncturist, make sure you understand this career. Let’s look closer at the job duties and the steps for how to become an acupuncturist.

How To Become an Acupuncturist

Job Duties of an Acupuncturist

When you become an acupuncturist, you will work with patients to diagnose and treat their injuries, illnesses, and health conditions. You will help to come up with a treatment plan based on the needs of the patient and their medical history. It’s common for acupuncturists to have advanced knowledge of herbal treatments and other alternative treatment options.

Some of the most common job duties for an acupuncturist will include:

These are the most common job duties for acupuncturists. If you go into this career, you can expect to handle these types of job duties on a regular basis.

How to Become an Acupuncturist in 5 Steps

Step #1 – Complete High School

You will need to complete high school and do well before you can go on to becoming an acupuncturist. A high GPA, along with high SAT or ACT scores can help you get into a good college or university. The better degree program you can get into, the more employment opportunities you will have available to you after completing your education.

You should take AP or honors courses in math and science, while in high school. It can also help to shadow those in the medical field or even an acupuncturist, if possible.

Step #2 – Get a Bachelor’s Degree

You will need a bachelor’s degree to become an acupuncturist. This degree will likely need to be in anatomy or biology. Some acupuncture schools will allow you to start working towards this career after two years of bachelor’s degree program education.

While you can get your degree in any field, you will likely want to get a degree in a science field. This will help when you apply to a master’s program.

Step #3 – Get Your Master’s Degree

You will need to apply for a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. This program will provide the in-depth study of acupuncture you need to work in this field. You will learn how to use these methods and others to heal patients.

During your master’s program, you will likely take courses in treatment and diagnosis techniques, biomedical clinical sciences, oriental herbal studies, and integrated acupuncture. It’s also common to receive herbal clinical training.

Once you have completed the program, you will have a master’s degree. Now, you can pursue your license to practice in your state as an acupuncturist.

Step #4 – Get Your State License

The state requirements may vary a bit from one to another. However, it’s common for the license to come from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. This license will require you to have a master’s degree in an accredited program.

You will also need to complete the clean needle technique course and take several exams. The exams will be on subjects, such as acupuncture, biomedicine, and the foundations of oriental medicine. After passing these exams and meeting the requirements, you will be licensed to practice as an acupuncturist in your state.

Step #5 – Get a Doctor of Acupuncture Degree (Optional)

You do not need a Doctor of Acupuncture degree to become an acupuncturist. However, this can help you advance your career. This degree will take an additional two years after your master’s degree program.

This degree can help you stand out from others applying for the same job. If you want to open your own practice, becoming a Doctor of Acupuncture will likely help you, as well.

Certifications for Acupuncturists

You can get several different certifications to advance your career as an acupuncturist. Some of the most common include:

These certifications may be necessary in some states and in others optional.

Frequently Asked Questions About Being an Acupuncturist

How much can I earn as an Acupuncturist?

According to, you can earn about $61K per year as an acupuncturist. Top employers will pay more than $80K per year for good acupuncturists, however. You can also earn a higher salary if you work in specific locations.

Boston is the highest-paying area with an average salary of more than $100K. Columbia, San Jose, Edison, and Long Island all pay a higher-than-average salary, as well.

What type of benefits do Acupuncturists get from employers?

When you work as an acupuncturist for an employer, you will likely gain many benefits. Malpractice and health insurance are two of the most common. Life insurance and paid sick time are also rather common. you may also get to work a flexible schedule and gain access to a gym. Tuition reimbursement is also a rather common benefit.

How long will it take me to become an acupuncturist?

You will need to meet the education requirements and the training requirements to become an acupuncturist. It’s necessary to earn a bachelor’s degree, which will take around four years. You will also need a master’s degree, which can take three or four years to complete.

If you want to become a more advanced acupuncturist, you will need to earn a Doctor of Acupuncture degree. This degree will take another two years to complete. For most acupuncturists, it will take 7 to 10 years to enter into this career.

What are the different acupuncture types?

While acupuncture is commonly associated with needles, there are multiple types of acupuncture. Needles are one form of treatment, but not the only. Some acupuncturists will also use electroacupuncture, acupressure, laser, or moxibustion.

How many hours of education will I need to become an acupuncturist?

You will likely need many hours of training and education to become an acupuncturist. The breakdown includes:

The hours may vary a bit from one state to another and from one program to another.

What is the work environment like for an acupuncturist?

Acupuncturists often work in a clinic-type of facility, a doctor’s office type of environment, or another healthcare facility. The environment you work in may be different, depending on the type of employer you work for.

What type of hours do acupuncturists work?

Many acupuncturists are self-employed and set their own hours. You might work part-time hours or full-time hours. Most will work full-time hours similar to regular business hours. A 40-hour workweek is pretty common. Some may work longer hours, depending on their client load and their preference.

Are acupuncturists in high demand?

This career has a demand pretty similar to the average of all occupations. The career of an acupuncturist is expected to grow by about 7% over the next ten years.

What are some of the common skills I will need to become an acupuncturist?

While you will gain many of the skills you need during your education and training, some skills you might also want to work on include:

These skills are very important to those planning to go into this career field.

If you want to help people with their pain and other health issues, you may want to consider a career as an acupuncturist. This type of career allows you to use alternative treatments for patients seeking something outside the modern medical establishment. It’s a growing field with plenty of rewards.

With the right training and education, you can work as an acupuncturist. You can even open your own practice and work for yourself. If this is the type of career you desire, consider following the steps above. It will take several years, but you can certainly become an acupuncturist and enjoy this incredible career option.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.