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Career Advice

How to Become an Acupuncturist

How to become an acupuncturistAccupuncture 1

It’s one of the oldest areas of medicine which is still widely used today. Pioneered first in China its actual development through history is unclear, although many experts would suggest it dates back to at least the Neolithic area, which would make it 12,000+ year old…so to say that acupuncture is a well established profession is something of an understatement.

What is acupuncture?

You will no doubt be fairly well acquainted with the general concept of its medical applications, but to clarify – Acupuncture is a practice involving the insertion of fine needles into key pressure points on the body. The aim of procedures is to stimulate these areas as a way of of regulating the body’s healing process and encouraging good health and well being

The Role of Acupuncturist

 An acupuncturist is a person who is concerned with the carrying out of acupuncture procedures in the hope of encouraging its proven benefits. It is sometimes offered as an alternative treatment by medical professionals such as GPs who who have completed additional training, however generally for those who practice it, it is the main focus of their career

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Some of the tasks which you could be expected to carry out on a daily basis include-

  • Making a detailed case history of the patient through questioning them on relevant aspects of their their condition and general physical and emotional health history
  • Explaining your diagnosis to the patient and walking them through the treatment plan which you are going to implement and the outcomes which you hope to achieve

  • Answering any questions which the patient may have about their condition or the treatment plan.

  • Carrying out the procedures

  • Using other treatments to compliment the acupuncture including moxibustion (burning herbs to warm the insertion points), electro-acupuncture and acupressure.

  • Regularly investigating a patient’s progress and adapting techniques where necessary

  • General administrative/managerial duties associated with running an alternative medicine practice.

 Most acupuncturists are self employed and therefore will be paid in relation to the number of client sessions that they carry out. Generally for a session you will be able to charge between £40 and £100, but do bear in mind that when first starting out it may take a while for you to develop a client base. For this reason, established acupuncturists often make significantly more than those who are at the beginning of their career.

Skills and Attributes

 Acupuncture is a very distinct area of alternative medicine and therefore requires a person with specific skills and interests.  Some of the things which could be useful to you in your career include;

  • A demonstrable interest in biology and human anatomy

  • A keen interest in complementary / alternative therapies and their applications

  • Excellent communication skills, this is particularly important due to the high level of interaction with clients.

  • A high level of dexterity and very steady hands

  • A responsible attitude to patient care, an understanding of the limitations of acupuncture and willingness to refer patients to other medical professionals for conditions which require further treatment

  • A sense of commercial awareness – this is often a very important aspect of the role owing to the fact that self employment is common within the field. You will need to have or be able to develop a certain level of business acumen in order to grow your reputation and client base.

  • The desire and ability to keep up to date with developments in the field and always seek new ways to make your treatments more effective.


 At the moment within the UK there is a lack of legal regulation of the practice of acupuncture, but this is likely to change within the coming few years.  There is however a very extensive network of self regulation within the industry which sets minimum standards which must be adhered to in order for acupuncturists to receive accreditation or approved status from professional associations.

 The main professional associations which are involved in the setting and monitoring of these standards are The British Acupuncture Accreditation Board, and the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) .  For the purposes of this guide we will be taking their required standards as our measuring stick for what is required to become an acupuncturist.

 Most BAAB-approved courses are a degree level qualification which last for at least three years on a full-time basis. As with any degree area, the entry requirements which are requested by the institution in question will vary. However as a general rule, in order to be considered for an accredited course you will need to hold at least five GCSEs (A-C), including a science subject, and two A levels. Failing this, universities will consider applications on a case-to-case basis and will normally only admit students who have a certain level of professional experience and expertise. For those wishing to enter through the academic route however there is no requirement to have any previous healthcare experience.

 Institutions which currently run BAAB fully accredited courses are; College of Integrated Chinese Medicine , College of Naturopathic Medicine,  International College of Oriental Medicine UK, London Southbank University, Middlesex University, Northern College of Acupuncture,  University of East London, University of Lincoln and University of Westminster.

 During your course you will required to complete training in a wide range of areas associated with a career as an acupuncturist including;

  • anatomy and physiology

  • common diseases

  • diagnostic skills and methods

  • acupuncture points, life energy (chi or qi) and health

  • acupuncture techniques and treatment

  • emergency first aid

  • business skills

Once you have graduated you will be eligible for voluntary membership of BAcC which will increase your professional standing by showing that you adhered to their standards of excellence of professional code of conduct.

 Best of luck if you still wish to become acupuncturist.   If you would rather just stick a pin in it then why not have a browse through our rather fabulous career directory.



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