Becoming an Acupuncturist

By | November 13, 2020

Becoming an Acupuncturist

Dr. Matthew Fellner, DACM, L.Ac. Acupuncture Department Head ESATM

This is obviously an unprecedented and unusual time in society.  There are so many unknowns and uncertainties as we navigate what effect Covid will have on the job market and, indeed, life in general.  Many people are considering new careers or are altering what career they originally planned for.  Healthcare is a field that has historically been able to offer substantial opportunity for growth and stability.  Acupuncture is a field that situates itself in a unique position to take advantage of many of the benefits of a traditional healthcare career, while satisfying a growing societal demand for alternatives to standard medical care.


When I first began my journey as a student in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine nearly 20 years ago, there were very few options for work outside of running one’s own private clinic.  Many people, myself included, are not cut out to manage the daily grind of private practice.  Unfortunately, this led to a very high rate of failed businesses and aborted careers.  But opportunities have significantly expanded and allowed acupuncturists to thrive in a variety of settings that would have been nonexistent 20 years ago.  Aside from multi-disciplinary offices that include Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, Nutrition, & Massage, Acupuncturists can find opportunities in hospitals, specialty clinics such as neurology/headache centers, fertility clinics, and even as contract workers for Olympic athletes and professional sports teams.  I even saw a job working in the NYC prison system as an acupuncturist, which would have been unheard of even 10 years ago.


The demand for acupuncture has never been higher, and the need for educating the public has never been higher.  People are frustrated with traditional western medical care that only involves limited options like surgery and medication.  The explosion of information on the internet and social media, has created a lot of dangerous self-diagnosis, but it also has created a forum for people to search for viable alternatives and then share their experiences with a much wider audience.  There has never been a better time to enter a field which is gaining momentum for 2 distinct reasons; increased acceptance in the media & the medical community, and growing demand from the public.  The US department of Labor anticipates that between 2018-2028, acupuncture will show at least an 11% growth rate as a career, with a nationwide median salary of over $75,000.  Since this was done pre covid, I would anticipate that once we re-establish our footing and get back to normal, the growth will be even greater than that.  People will recognize the importance of preventative health and put more time and resource into their own wellness.

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