Is acupuncture school worth it? If you are looking for a rewarding career that helps people, and gives you financial stability, a degree in acupuncture may be your next step. Whether you’ve just graduated from an undergraduate program, or are thinking about embarking on a new career, here are some facts to consider about becoming an acupuncturist:  

How many years is acupuncture school?

Completing a master’s degree in acupuncture takes about three years. It’s important to select a college that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). The Won Institute of Graduate Studies is the only acupuncture college in Pennsylvania that is accredited nationally 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.

How does the cost of acupuncture school compare to schooling for similar health-related professions?

The cost of acupuncture programs vary across the country and the general range is typically $30,000 to $40,000. At the Won Institute it’s estimated that the one-year cost for the three-year, full-time Acupuncture Studies program is a little over $21,000 annually. This includes tuition, fees and estimated costs for books. You can check out the cost of our tuition and fees here. The total licensure costs in Pennsylvania will run about $2,180.

A two-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at a local college in Pennsylvania can cost $105,000, according to Griffith, and tuition for chiropractic schools can run in the same price range.

Can I get tuition assistance for acupuncture school?

The Won Institute meets the criteria for participation in the Federal Student Financial Aid program. Learn more about our tuition and financial aid assistance. Additionally, the Won Institute offers the Institutional Aid Scholarship, a merit and need-based scholarship awarded to select members of the incoming class of students in the Acupuncture Studies and Chinese Herbal Medicine Certificate program.

What type of certification do I need once I graduate?

A license (L.Ac.) is required in many states, including Pennsylvania to practice acupuncture. Upon graduation, you will then be eligible to take the national boards issued by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) to receive licensure. Over 90% of Won Institute who graduate for the Acupuncture Studies program students successfully pass the National Board Exams.

How much income can I earn as an acupuncturist?

The median income for an acupuncturist is competitive compared to other fields in natural healthcare. Acupuncturists can make $74,530, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median income for a chiropractor is $68,640 per year, according to BLS.  

Upon graduating with a degree from the Acupuncture Studies program, many alumni at the Won Institute open their own private practice. After years in practice, and building an established loyal customer base, licensed practitioners can earn a comfortable salary.  

According to Griffith, 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, and many large third-party providers are paying for treatments. Licensed acupuncturists who are in practice up towards 10 years, and are eligible for reimbursement from insurance providers, can earn more than $250,000 annually, Griffith said.

“For someone who doesn’t want to be an employee and wants to be their own boss, this can be an excellent source of income,” said Griffith. “It’s definitely a viable source of income for someone.”

There are just under 800 licensed acupuncturists in Pennsylvania – with 600 holding an L.Ac. designation and 192 holding a L.OM license, according to Griffith. Areas in Pennsylvania like the Lehigh Valley, Hershey, Lancaster, York, State College, Harrisburg, Gettysburg, Carlisle, Scranton and Lewisburg are underserved markets in the state and could use more licensed acupuncturists, Griffith added.

“With insurance markets expanding coverage in 2019, more people are going to want acupuncture and it will be easier for patients to get treatment in these areas in Pennsylvania,” said Griffith.

He added that because these markets are not saturated with acupuncturists, it offers a less competitive playing field to open a practice. Griffith said a Won Institute graduate recently opened a practice in the Lewisburg area and is very busy with new patients.

What are my job prospects?

For a licensed acupuncturist who doesn’t want to open a private practice, they can work in a variety of clinical settings, including hospitals, wellness centers, addiction treatment centers and community clinics.

According to O*NET, job growth between 2016-2026 for acupuncturists is between 10% to 14%. The job outlook for acupuncture is positive and the demand for acupuncturists is increasing for multiple reasons:

People are seeking alternative and holistic services; conventional medical settings acknowledge the benefit of integrating acupuncture into their practices; and insurance companies are more open to alternative medicine and are paying for treatments.

Now that you’re thinking about a degree in acupuncture, click here to take a look at what we have to offer at the Won Institute.