As alternative health care providers, acupuncturists are people who stimulate points on the body by penetrating the skin with thin needles. Science has shown that stimulation by needles at acupuncture points in the body releases hormones called endorphins in the brain and these endorphins block pain. Acupuncturists treat people for various pains such as arthritis, headache, menstrual cramps, asthma, and carpal tunnel syndrome. It can also be used to treat various addictions. The penetration procedure is done through the acupuncturist’s hand or through electrical stimulation.
To be an acupuncturist, a person must have training and certification at the very least. An accredited program from an acupuncture school usually takes around 3-5 years. Other requirements may vary according to one’s state. Some states prefer that you become a doctor of medicine (M.D.) first while others demand at least a master’s of acupuncture (C.A.).
Acupuncturists often work in offices and at their own hours, depending on the demand of the hospital or company or on their own convenience. Most acupuncturists are self-employed and only a few are connected to hospitals. The industry continues to grow as modern science gains popularity and credibility and more companies seek alternative treatments.
In 2005, the average salary for acupuncturists was around $50,000 per year. It differed in other parts of the country such as in Texas, where the average annual salary was $32,500. In other states like California, it was a bit higher at $65,000. Starting acupuncturists can make around $45,000 and double that after a few years.