Acupuncture as a profession


Please give me the trends of acupuncture as a profession (include job
stability and salary and how they relate to geography).

Request for Question Clarification :

I have been searching for a while but there is just not enough information on Acupuncture statistical data out there.
The only thing I could find was this but is from 1997.
I imagine you are in the US and are interested in US data am I correct ?

I have also found this
There is an aboundance of info about chiropractors but not acupuncturists ....
If you tell me why you need the data there might be other ways to help you ....

Clarification of Question:

I am interested inU.S. statistics, but would also be interested in knowing the same for other English-speaking countries (i.e. England, Singapore). But if you also look at that, I would like to know how I hard it is to get the practitioner's license transferred, so that they could ultimately work in the U.S. (I could definitely up the anty if you go into all of that...)
I am interested because I am considering acupuncture as a career move. I have tried to do some research myself, but have pretty much found what you have. I do not want to go to school and assume debt without job security. I would at least like to know accurate salary
information, so that I would be comfortable with the idea of loan payments! I really want to know the reality of this career, but cannot seem to pinpoint it.
I really appreciate your help - please let me know what else I can do to facilitate

Clarification of Question:

well there is much more information about Acupuncturist in the UK.
For exaple here are some information gathered from various web sites,
I give the links below

Work Conditions
Range of typical starting salaries: varies (salary data collected July 03).
Range of typical salaries at age 40: around 30,000 (salary data
collected July 03).
Earnings are related to the success of the practice and can be low
during the first three to four years as it may take time to get established. Expect between one and four clients a day in
the early stages, at about 30 a session ( 80 London). In the early stages additional income from other employment may be required to cover living costs.
Overheads and rental must be accounted for and may take the form of
rent or a percentage of income. Once established, thirty to sixty clients a week is possible.
Working hours typically include regular unsocial hours, eg weekends or evening work, visiting clients, etc.
Flexibility and mobility is an advantage when starting out.
Overheads and room rental can determine the place of
work; you may have a private or a shared consulting room.
Practitioners need to be at ease with physical contact, variety of workplaces (including patients? own homes), clients and colleagues.
Self-employment ultimately offers a choice of working hours and locations.
Jobs are quite widely available in urban and rural areas. It is necessary to be very good at the job and self promotion, in order to compete successfully in areas where there are already a number of established acupuncture practices.
Part-time work and career breaks are possible.
There are slightly more women than men in the profession.
A uniform is not required but many acupuncturists choose to wear white clinical clothing (tunic, trousers etc) to portray a professional image.
Travel within a working day can be frequent for mobile acupuncturists but is less likely for those who are practice based; absence from home at night and overseas work or travel is uncommon

Entry Requirements
Although this area is open to all graduates and Diplomates, a degree/HND in life/medical sciences may increase your chances. However, a degree is not necessarily required for entry to training, indeed many students have no academic qualifications.
Knowledge of biological sciences is helpful, but attitude, personal
qualities and life experience are vital. Knowledge of the subject, personal experience of successful treatment and experience of teaching, counselling, advice work, massage or nursing may facilitate entry.
At present there is no legislation in the UK covering acupuncture,which means that there is no statutory requirement to obtain training. However, it advisable to undertake a full training course of three years full-time or the equivalent part-time, regardless of any prior medical training, at one of the colleges or universities accredited by the British
Acupuncture Accreditation Board (BAAB). This gives professional
membership of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), professional indemnity and public liability insurance. Many courses are offered by private colleges and some universities now offer accredited acupuncture degrees.
The BAcC recently voted to work towards statutory self-regulation which would give fully trained acupuncturists professional recognition by law and protect qualifications and
standards of practice through protection of title.
Work experience before qualifying is not possible, but it is a good
idea to talk to a practising acupuncturist and perhaps
observe treatment prior to applying for training. Observation and
clinical practice will form part of the training.
Potential candidates will need to show evidence of the following:
Good communication and interpersonal skills, in order to establish
good rapport with clients and explain treatment;
Good organisational, marketing and financial skills, in order to set
up and make a success of a business;
The ability to put patients at their ease;
An open, non-judgemental approach is essential. The work requires
maturity and sensitivity to deal with difficult
emotional issues. You should also be comfortable with physical contact
and seeing clients semi-clothed.
There are no upper or lower age limits to entry, but life experience
is needed in order to understand client problems. In
practice, it may be harder for those in their early 20s to enter
training (some private colleges may stipulate 21 as a
minimum age).

Getting in
Around 10,000 people in the UK practise acupuncture. The majority are self-employed. They can set up practices anywhere in the UK where
there are enough patients to use their services. A few acupuncturists
work alongside the NHS, in hospitals, health centres or GP surgeries.

Salary and other benefits
These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary,
depending on the employer and where people live.
An acupuncturist building a new practice may earn around 12,500 a year.
Experienced acupuncturists with a number of regular patients may earn 20,000.
Someone with a large, established practice may earn 40,000.
Most acupuncturists are self-employed, so their income depends on the
number of patients they see and the amount they charge for each
session. This is usually between 30 and 80. Outgoings like rent,
heating, lighting and transport will affect their income.

What are the opportunities for career progression ?
As acupuncture becomes more popular in the UK, there has been a rise
in numbers of people training as acupuncturists and there is a shortage of qualified practitioners in some areas.
Most acupuncturists are self-employed and work from home or their own premises, or in multi-disciplinary complementary medical centres. Some work with the National Health Service in a hospital or surgery

What is the salary ?
Acupuncturists can earn from 18,000 up to 35,000 a year.

Un the UK the most valuable accreditation is the one from the British
Acupuncture Council (BAcC). Candidates should have successfully
completed a course accredited by the BAcC (see the BAcC website for a
list of accredited courses). Alternatively, they need to satisfy the
Admissions Committee, through written application and interview, that
they have a level of training and competence equivalent to recent
graduates of British Acupuncture Accreditation Board accredited

You can find the accreditation handbook at Accreditation Handbook

There is also a report available titled
"Professional organisation of complementary and alternative medicine
in the United Kingdom 2000" you can order a hard copy for free from

To transfer your license to the US then you can seek certification by
the "National Certification Commission For Acupuncture and Oriental

The mission of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture
and Oriental medicine (NCCAOM) is to establish, assess, and promote
recognized standards of competence and safety in acupuncture and
Oriental medicine for the protection and benefit of the public. Since
its inception, the NCCAOM has certified more than 13,000 Diplomates in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology and Asian Bodywork Therapy.
You can download their Certification Handbook at

This is if you want your title to be recognized nationwide, however if
you have a particular state in mind then the transfer of the license
could be less strict since some state don't even have licensing

I have also found some more answers from you, a rapresentative of the
AOMAlliance was extremely kind and answered a set of questions for me. I prepared the questions so that the answers
could help you in making an educated choice for your change of career.
If you need more info just let me know and I will do more research.

Following are my questions with the respective answers

What are the requirements to become an Acupuncturist?
The requirements to practice acupuncture are determined by each
individual state and vary according to the different states. In most
states across the country the requirement is graduation from an
accredited school of acupuncture and successfully passing the national
certification examination.
There are more than 50 schools of acupuncture accredited in the United States. Accreditation is done by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) which is recognized for this purpose by the U.S. Department of Education. To be accredited, a
school must meet a number of standards for facilities, faculty and
program. The degree program is at the Master?s level or higher and
typically includes more than 3,000 hours of instruction and supervised
clinical practice. It takes approximately three years to earn the
degree. For most schools, a bachelor?s degree and proficiency in
English language is required. Information about ACAOM and a list of
schools can be found at A few states, including
California, do their own accrediting of schools and may recognize
schools within and outside of the boundaries of the state.

Which certification are needed?
For most states, certification involves passing the certification
examination of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). This examination is offered several
times each year at different locations around the country. To be eligible to take the examination, a candidate must have graduated from an accredited school of acupuncture. To maintain certification through a career, an acupuncturist may be required to participate in Continuing Education courses approved by the NCCAOM and submitted to them every two years. Some states, notably California, operate their own certification system and examination and do not use the NCCAOM.
Information about certification may be found at

Which licenses are needed?
Licensing requirements vary widely from state to state for acupuncturists. In addition, many states permit other health
professionals to practice acupuncture under different rules.
Physicians are often permitted to practice acupuncture with little or
no additional training. In some states physicians, chiropractors,
naturopaths, and other healthcare professionals may be allowed to
practice acupuncture with as little as 100 to 300 hours of
instruction. National organizations like the AOMAlliance
( encourage the public to seek out the help of
fully trained acupuncturists, usually designated by the letters L.Ac.
(Licensed Acupuncturist) following their names. These are the
professionals with the most complete education and training in the
field of acupuncture.

What are the typical starting salaries?
Most acupuncturists do not receive salaries, but work to develop a
private practice. The financial rewards of these practices vary
widely with experience, entrepreneurial ability, location, and a host
of other factors. In general, many brand new acupuncturists find the
first few years to be financially challenging. A well established
practice will ultimately yield a comfortable living for a family,
ranging from $30,000 per year up. The most successful acupuncturists
may make up to ten times that amount.
More and more acupuncturists are joining integrated medical
establishments such as hospitals, larger clinics, etc. These
practitioners often receive salaries and are typically compensated
similarly to the higher end technical people or at the lower end of
the scale for physicians.

Are there major salary differences between various US states?
The economics of acupuncture mirror the economy of the nation, with
the largest financial rewards coming on the coasts and in urban and
suburban areas. Nearly half of the acupuncturists in the United
States are found in California. The most lucrative practices are
found there and in the northeastern U.S.

What is the typical salary at age 40?
For many practitioners, acupuncture is a second career. Many do not
begin practice until after the age of 40. For those who move straight
from college to acupuncture school and then into practice, the age of
40 will have seen them in practice for about 15 years. Acupuncturists
who have remained in practice for 15 years (regardless of age) fall
into the category of well-established practices that usually yield
$30,000 annually or more.

How long does it take for the practice to be established?
Most new practitioners find the first three to five years to be the
most difficult. We find that success is usually established by the
fifth year, if not sooner.

How many clients are expected per day?
There are several different practice methods for acupuncturists. Some
choose to operate much like consulting physicians, dealing with a
single patient at a time. Typically they charge higher fees per
patient and see four or five patients a day. Others operate more like
clinics, with two or three practice rooms working together. Their
fees may be less and they may see eight to twelve patients daily.
Some acupuncturists practice community-style acupuncture and treat
patients in groups. The largest of these clinics may see more than 50
patients every day.

What are the opportunities for career progression?
Career progression opportunities in acupuncture are closely related to
the notion that most practitioners are in private practice.
Successful practitioners often find their practices expanding beyond
their own ability to serve them. They may bring in additional
acupuncturists, or add other professionals such as massage therapists
or Chinese herbalists to provide a wider range of services. They
often receive invitations to assist in other medical establishments.
The very best find their way into the schools as teachers.

How much demand for acupuncturist is there?
Demand for acupuncture is growing exponentially in America. The
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) an arm of the National Institutes for Health, has documented the
ever-growing number of Americans seeking assistance from all forms of
complementary medicine, including acupuncture. At present, nearly 50% of the population routinely turns to one form of complementary
medicine or another. While the number is smaller for acupuncture,
there are still an estimated 3 million active or former acupuncture

Will the demand grow in the future?
Federal labor needs statistics have estimated the need for
acupuncturists at nearly 100 thousand within the next ten years. Our
current educational system will not be able to create that many, but
they will find themselves increasingly in demand year by year.
Prospects for a career in acupuncture are becoming dramatically more

How many acupuncturists are in the US?
It depends on what you count. Our best guess is that there are
between 22 and 23 thousand practicing acupuncturists. This includes
estimates of those practicing underground in urban ethnic communities
or in states where the practice is not regulated by law. There is a
like number of other practitioners who provide some acupuncture as
part of other practices. In all, we estimate that as many as 45,000
individuals offer acupuncture across the country. Only about half of
these are fully trained and licensed.

How many there will be in the next 10 years?
We anticipate that the number of licensed acupuncturists will double
over the next ten years.

How do you see the trend in acupuncture in the next 10 years?
It is becoming increasingly clear that the American healthcare
delivery system is in transition. As traditional Western medicine
becomes more expensive and health insurance falls out of the means of
more and more people, there has begun a movement to find more cost
efficient alternatives. Acupuncture provides very effective treatment
for many conditions at a fraction of the cost. It is also part of
that complex of patient-centered approaches that focuses on wellness,
rather than rescue from illness. Most policy analysts expect all
forms of complementary and alternative medicine, especially
acupuncture and Oriental medicine, to gain dramatically in popularity
over the next few years. The medicine is safe, effective, less
expensive, and less intrusive than modern scientific remedies relying
on drugs or surgery. Prospects for acupuncturists have never been