Depending on state requirements, acupuncturists must earn a bachelor's or master's degree in acupuncture or acupuncture and oriental medicine to earn a license. Acupuncturists must also pass the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine exam.
As of December 2014, there are about 50 accredited acupuncture and oriental medicine degree programs for acupuncturists. Most of these programs take three to four years to complete. Coursework may include Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture practices and procedures. Acupuncture, used to treat many conditions such as back pain, stress, allergies, headaches and insomnia, requires practitioners to have a thorough knowledge of the human body to ensure proper placement of acupuncture needles. Students should consider undergoing acupuncture sessions to learn firsthand the importance of patient treatment and care.
Even though most states provide acupuncture licensing requirements, as many as eight states don't have licensing requirements as of 2014 because of pending legislation or because acupuncture is considered an illegal activity. Students interested in beginning a career in acupuncture should consider moving to states that have defined licensing requirements. Some states, such as Delaware, for example, allow acupuncturists to practice only under the guidance of a medical doctor. This may limit the number of patients an acupuncturist can treat, which affects his income.