It's no secret that the program at AOMA is rigorous and challenging. Acupuncture school will challenge you to discover your full potential as a student, as a healer, and ultimately as a professional practitioner. Though not easy, this truly transformational journey is meaningful and provides the foundation to building a successful career after school.
To become an acupuncturist, you must attend an accredited acupuncture school, take comprehensive national board exams and upon passing them, apply for licensure in the state where you want to practice. It takes most people an average of four years to get through acupuncture school. A master’s degree in acupuncture is the current entry- level standard for the profession. A few schools also offer doctoral programs in Oriental medicine (DAOM), which would add a couple of more years.
There is increasing scientific evidence proving the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of medical ailments including chemotherapy-induced nausea, autoimmune disorders, chronic back pain, hypertension and allergic rhinitis.
Coverage of acupuncture by major health insurance plans is also on the rise, and compared to traditional Western medicine, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are less expensive.
Acupuncture can also decrease reliance on prescription drugs, making it a safe, affordable and accessible healing modality.
A Growing Industry
The use of acupuncture is on the rise in the United States. Between 1997 and 2007 the number of visits among adults nearly tripled, rising from 27.2 to 79.2 per 1,000 adults.
According to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), approximately 3.1 million adults in the United States used acupuncture in 2006, a 47 percent increase from the 2002 estimate.
Coverage of acupuncture by major health insurance plans is also on the rise, and compared to traditional Western medicine, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are less expensive. Acupuncture can also decrease reliance on prescription drugs, making it a safe, affordable and accessible healing modality.
The demand for acupuncture could soon outweigh the number of practitioners that can currently fulfill that demand. There are many possibilities for acupuncture and Chinese medicine practitioners. National Association of Advisors for the Health Care Professions, “The future of AOM is bright with great opportunity for graduates in this field.”
There are many possibilities for students who graduate from acupuncture school. Most chose to work in private practice or work with a group of practitioners, like a massage therapist or chiropractor, at a holistic health or rehabilitation center. As acupuncture is growing in demand, opportunities to work in pain management clinics and hospitals are becoming more available. The military is also becoming more open to employing acupuncturists to research post-traumatic stress which has shown positive results for treating veterans.
There are also opportunities to travel with acupuncture by working for groups such as Acupuncturists without Borders or island hopping on cruise ships. Many students have done this right after graduating from acupuncture school as a sort of working vacation.
Credentials and Recognition
After graduating from acupuncture school you have to take board exams and apply for licensure. Most US states require national board certification for licensure. The NCCAOM administers the national board examinations for the profession. Each state has unique licensure and scope of practice regulations. In many states, candidates for licensure must demonstrate their diagnostic and technical clinical skill that they learned in acupuncture school. There currently is no standardization of licensure, for example, in Texas the license is called "Licensed Acupuncturist", whereas in Florida it is called "Acupuncture Physician" and in New Mexico it is called "Doctor or Oriental Medicine" (DOM).
Fulfilling and Lucrative Career
According to the U.S. Department of Labor National Center for O*NET Development, median
wages for an acupuncturist are $33.98 hourly, $70,690 annual. Recent graduates should keep in mind that statistics show that it takes 2-5 years for a new practice to get established. Factors like location, style of practice, and clinical specialties can all impact expected earnings.