Are you thinking about a career in acupuncture? Are you wondering how much can I make as an Acupuncturist? The health and wellness field is booming and acupuncture is one of the fastest growing professions in medicine. In fact, projected job growth (2016-2026) for the field of acupuncture is faster than average at a rate of 10% to 14%, according to O*NET.   

Career opportunities are limitless, and many licensed acupuncturists can earn a solid paycheck whether as a practitioner in private practice, or working in a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, wellness centers, addiction treatment centers and community clinics. Some alumni of the Won Institute of Graduate Studies with previous medical experience have taken their acupuncture skills and incorporated them into an existing clinical practice, while others have built their own practices and wellness centers that offer a variety of treatment options. Others have focused on practicing in sports medicine and have worked with athletic teams in the Philadelphia area.

So how much do acupuncturists make?

A licensed acupuncturist who has received formal training from a three-year program at an accredited college, and has passed national exams from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), can earn a median annual salary of $74,530 (national average), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Salary range can vary greatly depending on experience, hours worked and treatments per week.

Many licensed acupuncturists have the chance to increase their earning potential if they want to take the entrepreneurial route and open their own private practice. Building a strong clientele base can take some time, but it can secure a well-paying salary.  

According to Benjamin W. Griffith II, M.Ac., L.Ac, Dipl. Ac., Acupuncture Studies Department Chair at the Won Institute, it’s possible that licensed acupuncturists who have been in private practice up towards 10 years can gross more than $150,000 per year. He also added that the insurance market is opening up to acupuncture as a medical treatment. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey workers compensation and car insurance policies pay for acupuncture treatments. Other large third-party providers also pay for acupuncture. Licensed acupuncturists who are in practice up towards 10 years, and are eligible for third-party reimbursement, can earn more than $250,000 annually, Griffith said.

How does acupuncture compare to other careers in natural health?

The field of acupuncture can be competitive compared to other jobs in natural health. According to BLS, a median income for a chiropractor is $68,640 per year, and a massage therapist can start off earning $39,990.

What’s the job outlook for an acupuncturist?

In recent decades, acupuncture has been used more widely and extensively in the United States, and continues to be a quickly growing profession.

In 2002, approximately 2 million U.S. adults 18 or older had used acupuncture, and by 2007, this number has exceeded 3 million, representing a 50% growth in the past five years, according to a report using data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among U.S. adults.

A study published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, and conducted by the McLean Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, found that the number of licensed acupuncturists in 2015 in the U.S. was 34,481. Of this, more than 50% were licensed in three states alone: California (32.39%), New York (11.89%) and Florida (7.06%). The number of licensed acupuncturists increased 23.30% and 52.09%, compared to the year 2009 (n = 27,965) and 2004 (n = 22,671), respectively; increasing about 1,266 per year.

“Acupuncture is a viable profession whether you want to take the entrepreneurial route and open your own practice, or working on a contract basis,” said Ben.

Ben added that the job market for licensed acupuncturists is primed for growth for these reasons:

National opioid crisis – Acupuncture provides effective management for post-surgical pain and chronic pain, as well as a good adjunctive therapy for opioid withdrawal. A number of federal and state legislators have introduced bills to improve patient access. The need for acupuncturists to treat these patients will be in higher demand.

Ancillary services – Fertility clinics, detox clinics and other medical providers see acupuncture as an integral part of their practice and want qualified, licensed acupuncturists.

Insurance companies are paying for treatments – Some insurance companies include acupuncture as a covered treatment, and generally pay for chronic pain and other medical conditions. As insurance companies become more open to alternative medicine, career opportunities for acupuncturists will increase as well.

How do I start my career in acupuncture?

To enroll in a graduate level acupuncture program, you are required to have a bachelor’s degree. While your undergraduate work can be in any subject matter, some colleges will require prerequisites in science courses like anatomy and physiology.

It’s important to select a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). The Won Institute is accredited by the ACAOM and regionally by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which ensures candidates for the program will receive a quality education with the ability to obtain licensure. The Won Institute is the only accredited acupuncture institution in the state of Pennsylvania offering a Master of Acupuncture Studies degree. Students enrolled in the accredited three-year Master’s degree program gain a comprehensive understanding of Chinese medical theory and the ancient and modern uses of acupuncture.

The Won Institute Acupuncture Studies program prepares students to sit for the national board exam which is required for licensure as an acupuncturist (L.Ac) in many states, including Pennsylvania. Over 90% of Won Institute students successfully pass the National Board Exams.

In preparing students for the profession, students in the Acupuncture Studies program are entitled to a discounted membership to the Association for Professional Acupuncture in Pennsylvania, and can attend Institute professional and continuing education forums at a discount.

Can I advance in my acupuncturist career?

Expanding your educational background can help you advance your acupuncturist career. If you’ve earned a graduate degree in acupuncture, you can consider getting certification in Chinese herbal medicine. The Won Institute of Graduate Studies Certificate in Chinese Herbal Medicine Program (CHP) is designed for current licensed acupuncturists and students already enrolled in the Master of Acupuncture Studies program and focuses on the therapeutic use of Chinese herbal medicine with an emphasis on classical and modern approaches to treatment. The flexible, two-year program prepares students to sit for the NCCAOM Chinese herbology exam.

As in most professions, the additional education you obtain, the more chances your salary will increase. As a private practitioner, adding more skills can expand your client base. For those who want to work in multi-disciplinary clinical settings, it can enhance your resume and make you a more likeable candidate for a position.   

Now that you know the field of acupuncture can be a great source of income, it’s time to start your career. Click here to learn more about our Master of Acupuncture Studies Degree program.