Employment Prospects


About 18,000 board-certified acupuncturists are active in the United States, according to NCCAOM. Most acupuncturists operate private practices. Some form or join partnerships with other acupuncturists or with people skilled in other areas of Oriental medicine. Professionals and clinics in other areas of health care, such as chiropractors, osteopaths, and medical doctors, increasingly include acupuncturists among them.

As acupuncture becomes more accepted, there are growing opportunities for acupuncturists in hospitals and university medical schools. A few acupuncturists are engaged in medical research. They conduct studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating various health conditions. There is a growing emphasis on research in acupuncture, and this area is likely to employ greater numbers in the future. A small number of acupuncturists work for government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health.

Starting Out

To get started as an acupuncturist, one of the most important elements is being sure that you have the proper certification and licensing for your geographical area. This is essential, and the requirements for the profession, for each state, and for the nation change rapidly.

The career services office of your school may be able to help you find job opportunities. When starting out, some acupuncturists find jobs in clinics with doctors or chiropractors or in wellness centers. This gives them a chance to start practicing without having to equip an office. Some begin working with a more experienced acupuncturist and then later go into private practice. Acupuncturists frequently work in private practice. When starting a new practice, they often have full-time jobs and begin their practices part time.

Networking with professionals in local and national organizations is a good way to learn about job opportunities.

Advancement Prospects

Acupuncturists advance in their careers by establishing their own practices and by building large bases of patients. Some start their own clinics. Because acupuncturists receive referrals from physicians and other health care practitioners, relationships with other members of the medical community can be very helpful in building a patient base.

Acupuncturists may eventually wish to teach acupuncture at a school of Oriental medicine. After much experience, an acupuncturist may achieve a supervisory or directorship position in a school. The growing acceptance of acupuncture by the American public and the medical community will lead to an increasing need for research. Acupuncturists can build rewarding careers participating in this effort.

Tips for Entry

Visit to learn more about career opportunities.

Use social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to stay up to date on industry developments, network, and learn about job openings.

Conduct information interviews with acupuncturists and ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.