In acupuncture, the underlying tenet is that illness or pain develops when energy in the body is interrupted. Acupuncture doctors use needles, herbs and other implements to restore the flow of energy and relieve pain and injuries in patients. Many work in physicians' offices along with chiropractors, reflexologists and other naturopathic practitioners. If you want to become an acupuncture doctor, you need a doctorate in acupuncture. Once you complete your degree, you can expect to earn a salary averaging between $75,000 and $80,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for an acupuncture doctor was $76,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Indeed. While most acupuncturists have the minimum of a master's degree in acupuncture, according to the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, acupuncture doctors have a doctorate in acupuncture, which usually takes up to four or five years to complete. You must also obtain a license through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine if you live in Washington, D.C., or one of the 43 states where acupuncture is legal. Other important qualifications for the job include physical stamina, dexterity and communication and customer service skills.
Average salaries for acupuncture doctors varied the most within the West in 2013, according to Indeed, where they earned the highest salaries of $82,000 in California and the lowest of $49,000 in Hawaii. Those in the South made $65,000 to $90,000 in Louisiana and Washington, D.C., respectively. If you worked as an acupuncturist in Maine or New York, you'd earn an average of $65,000 or $91,000 -- the lowest and highest earnings in the Northeast. In the Midwest, you'd make the least in Nebraska or South Dakota and the most in Illinois -- $56,000 or $83,000, respectively.
Some chiropractors offer acupuncture services to their clients. Chiropractors earned relatively high salaries of $81,760 in specialty hospitals in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, versus the industry average of $79,550 for all chiropractors. Specialty hospitals can include orthopedic and children's hospitals or institutions that specialize in pain or burns. Chiropractors earned $79,090 working in physicians' offices. If you're a self-employed acupuncturist, you'll earn more as you increase your clientele base and get more repeat business. It also behooves you to share office expenses with other naturopathic doctors or practitioners, which will lower your rent expenses and help increase your net profit.
The BLS doesn't forecast jobs for acupuncture doctors. It projects a 28-percent increase in employment for chiropractors through 2020 -- faster than average. Population increases among the elderly and aging baby boomers, who are most likely to need chiropractic or acupuncture services, may increase jobs for acupuncture doctors. If you're a self-employed acupuncturist, you'll likely find more business in high-growth areas.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Quarterly: You're a What? Acupunturist
- National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
- Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: Frequently Asked Questions
- Indeed: Acupuncturist Salary
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chiropractors: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Chiropractors
- Indeed: Acupuncturist Salary in Maine, and New York
- Indeed: Acupuncturist Salary in Hawaii, and California
- Indeed: Acupuncturist Salary in Louisiana, and Washington, DC
- Indeed: Acupuncturist Salary in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Illinois
- Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images