Over the past few years, more alternative forms of treatment have been accepted by the medical profession especially physical treatments such as acupuncture. As the acceptance has grown, it has seen the number of acupuncture positions skyrocket across the country. With that in mind, what does it take to become an acupuncturist and what are the long term career prospects?

What is an acupuncturist

An acupuncturist is a medical professional who is trained specifically in using alternative methods to help treat physical pain throughout the body. Usually, this involves the use of objects such as needles being placed into the muscular system to relieve pain or any discomfort in a localized area. Sometimes, anyone practicing in the field can also use herbal remedies or other non-invasive treatments to try and help their patients feel revitalized and recovered from aches and pains.

Work environment

Almost all acupuncturists will work in their own clinics as they still require the same specialized equipment any other medical professional may need such a surgery, waiting room and sufficient storage space for remedies and equipment. It is possible to find acupuncturists working in hospitals where states legally recognize and accept the practice but most professionals opt to stick to their own private clinics which can be either fully independent or shared in partnership with other medical personnel such as chiropractors.

Work Schedule

For most acupuncturists, most of their day will involve treating patients using a range of different treatments carried out through a private appointment. Aside from actually treating patients, the acupuncturist will need to carry out their own examination and understand a patient’s medical history before going ahead with any treatment. Due to the nature of their business, it means that most acupuncturists will generally stick to daytime working hours with most clinics open from 9am-7pm during the week.

Mean Annual Acupuncturist Salary

As acupuncture is still a relatively new field within the medical world, many specialists earn less than what their counterparts would in similar fields such as chiropractics or physiotherapy.  A few years ago, the average wages were rather low with Payscale.com revealing that the average salary was around $46,027 a year. However,a  recent survey carried out by job agency Indeed revealed that the average salary had raised to $76,000 in February, 2014. Although this does seem rather low for anyone with several years experience, the salary is likely to continue increasing as more knowledge about the methods and industry develops over the coming years.

Acupuncturist Job Outlook and Prospects

Considering that acupuncture was only seen as a proper form of treatment during the last 20 years, opportunities have been fairly limited for the moment. As of 2013, it’s estimated that there are around 45,000 licensed acupuncturists across the US. However, this number is expected to rise considerably over the coming years with employment network TopTenReviews estimating that this figure will increase by 10% over the coming decade as more professionals get involved with the industry.

Acupuncturist Salary: Factors of Influence

For many acupuncturists, their salary is going to vary throughout their career and this is mainly down to where they are based and how long they have been in the field. With demand varying so much, it means that many people will look to base themselves in particular areas after a certain period of time in order to try and capitalize on the booming popularity of the industry. In order to this, there are two things  that an acupuncturist should consider:


Unlike some other industries, the salary of an acupuncturist will vary greatly depending on where they are based. Most of the top earners are based in regions that have a high urban population or are considered a major base in their state or region. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that areas such as California and New York have the highest concentration of acupuncturists in the US with Acupuncture.com estimating that 50% of all practices are found in these two states.

They are also two of the highest earning regions regions too with professionals earning an average $90,000 a year in New York or $81,000 in California. The only region that pays higher in the US is Washington D.C where acupuncturists can earn 91,000 per annum. It’s a huge contrast to some rural region such as North Dakota or Hawaii where Indeed found qualified professionals earning just $53,000 and $46,000 respectively – a staggering 45% less than the more urbanized areas.


Alongside the location variations, there can also be a considerable difference according to how long someone has been in the industry. For someone just finishing their doctorate or earning their license, Payscale.com found that most people earned around $45,000 per annum throughout their first year. Gradually, a qualified acupuncturist will find their salary increasing by around $2,000 a year depending on where they are based and if they work on a full time basis. Eventually, Payscale’s survey found that acupuncture professionals with over 15 years experience should be getting a minimum of $60,000 with those based in high-end areas easily earning above $100,000 a year.