What is a Naturopathic Doctor

A naturopathic doctor, also known as just “naturopath”, is a physician working in general health care who works on the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases using a more holistic approach to medicine, meaning they incorporate the body, as well as the mental and emotional state of the patient when considering a disease. They use a broader array of treatments, including acupuncture, herbal supplements and remedies, and diet changes. They may also prescribe traditional medical treatments, though less commonly; they attempt to combine standard and alternative medical approaches.

Work Environment

Naturopathic doctors can work in hospitals and clinics, however most tend to work in private practices, where they are able to build whatever environment would be most comfortable for them and their patients. In hospitals and clinics, this may be more challenging, though it is rare for a health care organization to make an environment purposely uncomfortable.

Naturopaths spend a good deal of time on their feet when examining and treating patients. They also sit, engaging in various amounts of paperwork for medical histories, billing, and the like. Often they will employ an administrative assistant for some of these tasks.

Work Schedule

A naturopathic doctor’s work schedule can be similar to other doctors, depending on the level of medical services provided. Those who truly blend both traditional and alternative medicine may find themselves working longer hours, and have time on call. Those leaning too far toward the alternative side may be less likely to be called on for emergency situations, and find hospitals less inclined to make use of their skills.

On the whole, as most run a private practice, they are able to set their own hours of work; often these will include evenings and weekends, to accommodate the schedules of their patients.

Naturopathic Doctor Job Outlook and Prospects

It is difficult to predict the job outlook for naturopaths, as the Bureau of Labor and Statistics doesn’t examine that specific data. However, physicians’ prospects are expected to grow by 18 percent in the coming years. Naturopathic medicine is a relative new phenomenon, and as such is growing much more rapidly. According to the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges, the number tripled between 1994 and 2004.

Naturopathic Doctor Salary: Factors of Influence

A naturopathic doctor’s salary is affected by factors including experience, specialization, and geographic location. The average annual salary for a naturopathic doctor is around $58,900.

One interesting consideration that does not affect other medical careers is the overall social fabric of the geographic location. As naturopathy incorporates alternative medicines, and some people are skeptical of its efficacy, then people in that area may be less inclined to seek a naturopathic doctor’s services.

Education and Specialization 

A naturopath requires a degree structure similar to a traditional medical doctor’s, including a four-year bachelor’s degree and a four-year naturopathic medicine degree (N.D.). However, this degree is one specifically for naturopathic medicine; they will not be licensed as a medical doctor (M.D.). Part of their four-year degree will involve clinical settings under a qualified professional, similar to the residencies of a standard medical doctor.

The education received has little affect on the naturopathic doctor’s salary, unless one considers specialization as well. Naturopaths who seek specializations in clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, or traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, for example, can see wage increases, though this, again, is dependent on the social mores and desires of the location they work.

Experience and Position 

Experience is certainly a consideration for a naturopathic doctor’s salary, though to a lesser extent than in traditional medicine due to the youth of the field overall. A starting naturopath can see wages of around $30,000, while one who has worked for twenty or more years can earn upwards of $90,000 or more.


The industry worked is, in part, dependent on the area the naturopath works, and in their overall approach to practice. One working with a truly holistic approach can find work in many hospitals, blending alternative and traditional medical approaches successfully. Those focused more exclusively on alternative approaches may find a position in a clinic, or will be more likely to work in a private practice. Industry offers only minor differences in wages, in part because of the youth of the field.


The geographic location worked has a significant impact on the naturopath’s salary, especially considering the social views of that location. More liberal areas, for example, tend to embrace the holistic approach of naturopathic medicine to a greater degree than more conservative ones; as such, a naturopathic doctor will tend to receive a higher yearly wage in larger cities such as New York or San Francisco than in Provo, Utah. There is still some demand in these more conservative areas, though, and naturopaths should not feel discouraged from working there.