How Long It Takes to Become an Acupuncturist

There are a few routes to becoming an acupuncturist, and how long it takes depends on what a person’s goals are. For most programs in acupuncture, the courses take about three to four years assuming the student attends school during summers. Although most schools offer diplomas, certificates and degrees at the master’s level, there are schools that offer concurrent bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Many doctors certify to become acupuncturists as well through certificate programs to add to the services that they are able to offer. However, most acupuncturists focus exclusively on acupuncture and other forms of Eastern or alternative treatments.

Find an Accredited School

Once a person has decided to become an acupuncturist, the next step is to research accredited schools. Accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (the ACAOM) is important because this agency is recognized by the Department of Education, which means that a student who wishes to attend the school can get federal student aid. Accreditation is also important because 40 states require an acupuncturist to be licensed, but only those who attend accredited schools are eligible for licensing.

Undergraduate Education

A doctor or dentist who wishes to become an acupuncturist can complete a certificate program with about 300 hours of training and education. Others who wish to enter an acupuncturist degree program should complete a bachelor’s degree, which usually takes four years, and then enroll in a master’s degree program in either acupuncture or Oriental medicine.

Graduate Education

A degree in acupuncture will usually take about three years, while a degree in Oriental medicine may take up to four years because of the added courses in herbal medicine. It is a good idea for a student to check the requirements of their individual states because some states require students to take courses in herbal medicine as well to become acupuncturists.

State Licensure

The next step to becoming an acupuncturist is getting a state license to practice. In some states, that means getting extra clinical hours and in other states, applicants have to sit for the Council of College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s Clean Needle Technique exam. Like any healthcare career, it is important to follow the regulations of the state in which a person wishes to practice to avoid legal trouble.

Program Costs

An acupuncturist program’s costs vary depending on the kind of program a student attends and the length of time it takes to study. A certificate program, for example, might cost $5000 while a degree program might cost $6000 to $12,000 per year–which for a four year program adds up to a cost of about $48,000. Students who attend an accredited program may be able to get the funding for their education through federal and state grants and loans as well as through scholarships, which can cut down the costs drastically. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not record the average salaries of acupuncturists, most charge $40 to $70 per hour long session. With their job outlook and earning potential, the cost of attending school to become an acupuncturist is worth it for most practitioners.