How Long Does it Take to Become an Acupuncturist?by Helen Eisenberg on December 28, 2018
Acupuncture is a holistic treatment based on traditional and ancient Chinese medicine and practices. It involves inserting very thin, sterile needles through the skin at strategic points on the body. Acupuncture is based on the concept of “qi,” which is an energy used to address pain and mobility problems. The practice is used to relieve pain, but more recently it has found a place in overall wellness promotion – including stress management.
A career in acupuncture can be extremely rewarding. If you’re exploring how to get an acupuncture license, you’ll want to know all the facts. Below you will find everything you need:
What is Acupuncture Used For?
Increasingly, acupuncturists are being incorporated into multidisciplinary care teams and working alongside traditional medical practitioners to deliver care.
Acupuncture can relieve discomfort associated with a myriad of diseases and conditions, including:
- Nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
- Dental pain
- Labor pain
- Headaches, including migraines and tension headaches
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
- Respiratory conditions, such as allergic rhinitis
- Menstrual cramps
- Neck pain
How to Become an Acupuncturist
Becoming an acupuncturist requires intensive higher education and practical experience. For most schools, you can expect to spend about three years studying to earn your acupuncture accreditation.
A professional acupuncture curriculum typically consists of:
- At least 47 semester credits in Oriental medical theory, diagnosis and treatment techniques in acupuncture and related studies
- 22 semester credits (660 hours) in clinical training
- 30 semester credits (450 hours) in biomedical clinical sciences
- 6 semester credits (90 hours) in counseling, communication, ethics, and practice management
You will need to inquire directly with your program of interest, as schools are beginning to require more than these minimum requirements. It is important to keep in mind that schools requiring the minimum in education tend to be of lower quality, so you’ll need to consider the cost and benefit of each program individually.
Study Abroad Component of an Acupuncture Curriculum
As a future acupuncturist, studying abroad in China in conjunction with the best Chinese medicine hospitals can help bring you closer to the roots of acupuncture. You can gain a more in-depth understanding and learn techniques and principles from the top experts in the field. The opportunity for exposure is unmatched, and in many cases studying abroad can fulfill a student’s clinical hour requirements.
Choosing the Right School of Acupuncture
Choosing the right school of acupuncture is a critical first step in building your career. The American Institute of Alternative Medicine (AIAM) is the premier choice for people looking to further their education and become an acupuncturist. The program is one of only a few programs available in the Midwest, and it is one of the most respected programs in the U.S. AIAM gives students the skills needed for success – they are able to apply what they learn in the classroom to the real world through the on-site clinic.
You can expect to learn skills applicable to all aspects of your career, including:
- Business management
- Interpersonal skills
Admission Requirements for AIAM
Requirements of AIAM’s Acupuncture program include:
- The time needed to earn the Master’s Degree in Acupuncture is 27 months; 9 quarters
- Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university to enroll
- The program focuses on traditional Chinese medicine and biomedical science
- Graduates of the program receive a Master’s Degree in Acupuncture and are qualified to sit for the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) exam
As a prospective acupuncture student, you are always expected to complete the following as part of your application:
- Personal tour and interview with an admissions representative
- Complete application form with $100 enrollment fee (can be paid at enrollment)
- Complete Physical Health Exam Form
- Meet with Financial Aid office to discuss payment options, if applicable
- Complete enrollment agreement and accompanying paperwork
- Acupuncture students will need the Hepatitis B Vaccine (series of 3) or refusal on physical form
- Proof of English language competency. Having English as your first language, completing at least two-year (60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits) of English language classes, or getting a score of at least 61 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) internet-based test (iBT) which also requires a minimum speaking exam score of 26 and a minimum listening exam score of 22, or a level 6 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam are all ways of proving English proficiency.