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How Do I Become an Acupuncture Practitioner?

By Judith Smith Sullivan
Updated May 17, 2024
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In order to become an acupuncture practitioner, you will need to obtain a bachelors degree in a related field followed by two to three years of graduate study in an accredited school of Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is part of the Chinese healing arts and is often coupled with natural homeopathic and herbal remedies. You must also obtain a license and complete all the necessary paperwork to open your business.

It is important to chose an accredited school for your acupuncture studies. Many regional governments will not license you to practice acupuncture if you have studied in an unaccredited institution. Accreditation also gives the school a system of accountability, helping to ensure that you receive a high quality and consistent education.

There are several schools of Chinese medicine in the US, but they are not as common as traditional universities. You may have to relocate to study acupuncture. If this is the case, chose your location carefully because you will spend several years there. You must follow the guidelines of the school's admission department, just like you would for any other college or university to be accepted into the program. There is no guarantee that you will be accepted to your first choice, so you should apply to several schools.

Once you have graduated, check the requirements for obtaining licensure to become an acupuncture practitioner in your area. Often, professional acupuncture societies have this information available on their websites. Although most states require you to pass some type of board exam, there may be several exams required. You may also be required to complete a rotation under the supervision of an experienced acupuncturist before you can apply for a license.

When you apply for a license to become an acupuncture practitioner. You will need to provide of your exam scores and information about your rotation, as well as any other information the licensing department requests. Be careful to submit the forms exactly and to ask for clarification if you have any questions. Sometimes incomplete applications are simply ignored or denied, so it is your responsibility to follow up on your application.

After you are licensed, you are ready to become an acupuncture practitioner. Like other members of the medical profession, you can either start you own practice or join another practice. There are advantages to both, but you should probably spend several years seeing patients before you decide to open your own practice. A practice is a business, and the day to day operations will demand much, if not the majority, of your attention. It is better to be experienced in your craft before you take on the additional responsibility.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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