If you’re considering a career as an acupuncturist, you’re probably interested in learning about how much you can earn in this field. The truth is that earnings for an acupuncturist vary widely due to many factors. However, the data we’ve compiled from different sources can give you a fairly good idea of the range and average salary of an acupuncturist.
Before we look at how much you can potentially make in this career, however, let’s briefly go over what an acupuncturist does and how long it takes to become an acupuncturist.
What does an acupuncturist do?
According to traditional Chinese medicine, vital energy known as qi flows through the body along various meridians. The problem is that this energy flow can easily become blocked or sluggish over time. Stimulating key points along these meridians, known as acupuncture points, can help restore the proper flow of energy—potentially enhancing health and well-being.
An acupuncturist uses thin needles to stimulate the skin at various acupuncture points. Different points may be stimulated and needles may be inserted at different depths depending on the client’s particular symptoms.
Before applying needles at the determined acupuncture points, an acupuncturist first assesses the client’s health. This is an investigative process that involves looking at the client’s medical history and asking questions, as well as observing the client’s emotions and voice characteristics. As part of the assessment, an acupuncturist will also determine how energy is flowing through the body by taking the pulse of both wrists. Additionally, they will also assess the color, structure, and coating of the tongue.1
While acupuncture is the most common treatment an acupuncturist will use, they may use other treatments such as acupressure, cupping, lasers, moxibustion, gua sha, and electro-acupuncture. Nutrition and supplementation recommendations may be made after the acupuncture treatment as well.
How long does it take to become an acupuncturist?
The typical curriculum for acupuncture school includes courses in Chinese medical theory, diagnosis and treatment techniques, and biomedical clinical studies. You will spend several hours in clinical training, and additional hours in counseling, communication, and practice management courses.
You can expect to spend about 3-4 years earning your accreditation and Master’s Degree in Acupuncture. Many programs combine acupuncture with Oriental medicine programs as well, allowing you to earn a master’s degree in both fields. Certain states require a degree in Oriental medicine to be a licensed acupuncturist.
Another thing to consider is that you are required to have a bachelor’s degree to be admitted into an acupuncture school in certain states, which takes about 4 years to obtain. In some states, the requirement is a minimum of 60 college or university level semester credits.
If you are interested in being an acupuncturist, its important to choose a school that is accredited or pre-accredited. You can find a list of these schools in the United States in the ACAHM directory here.
Average and median earnings for newly graduated acupuncturists
According to earnings reported on indeed.com, the average salary for an acupuncturist in the United States is around $69,000.2 Another estimate from salary.com, however, places the salary range at about $49,000 to $63,000.3
Looking at the median salary can shed more light on how much you can expect to earn as an acupuncturist. In May of 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that the median salary for an acupuncturist is $71.770.4 (In contrast to average, the median is the number in the middle when all the salaries are lined up from smallest to largest.)
Like other jobs, the amount you can earn as an acupuncturist varies by location according to BLS data. In the United States, you can expect to earn more than $89,000 a year in Tennessee, Maryland, and New Jersey, compared to around $60,000 in Texas, Georgia, Washington, and Oregon.
Additionally, mean wage varies by the type of industry as well. Acupuncturists who work in outpatient care centers, specialty hospitals, and professional schools and universities, for example, can expect to make thousands of dollars more than those who work in practitioner and physician offices.4
Average earnings for experienced acupuncturists
Acupuncturists with more education and experience often earn more compared to the average acupuncturist salary. According to career explorer, the top 20% of acupuncturists earn about $141,000 per year.5 Additionally, the BLS reported in 2021 that the median salary of the top 10% of acupuncturists was $126,440.4
Acupuncturist salary vs. acupuncture school cost
Tuition costs for an acupuncture degree and accreditation range from about $30,000 to $40,000 depending on the school you attend.6
According to payscale.com, the median pay for an acupuncturist with 1-4 years of experience is about $60,000.7 ZipRecruiter, however, gives a more conservative average of about $46,000 per year. They also note that the average pay range varies greatly.8
Although it may not be worth the financial cost in your early years to be an acupuncturist, the average pay goes up significantly once you have more than 5 years of experience. According to data gathered from more than 100 acupuncturists in the United States, the average salary is around $75,000 for those with 5-9 years of experience, and around $85,000 for those with 10-19 years of experience. In this range and beyond, you can easily make more than $100,000 a year as an acupuncturist.7
As you can see, becoming an acupuncturist can definitely be worth the upfront cost if you plan to stay in the career for the long-term.
Other considerations for pursuing an acupuncture career
As with most careers, becoming an acupuncturist isn’t all about the money. The satisfaction of helping people heal and become healthier is another positive aspect of going into this field. If helping other people heal using natural approaches is appealing to you, you’re likely to thrive and be happy working in this field.
Another thing to consider is the demand for acupuncturists. The good news is that the job outlook for acupuncturists is positive according to Recruiter.com, which estimates that acupuncture jobs will increase by 4.11% annually over the next few years.9 With people turning to natural health solutions more and more, it makes sense that the outlook for acupuncturists is bright.
About Seth Morris
Seth Morris is an experienced article writer with a background in marketing, Web content creation, and health research. In addition to writing and editing content for the ZYTO website and blog, he has written hundreds of articles for various websites on topics such as holistic wellness, health technology, and Internet marketing. Seth has earned Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Management as well as Literary Studies.
1. Price, Lisa M. “Acupuncture Diagnosis.” Wellness Pro. Acupuncture-answers.com.
2. “Acupuncturist salary in United States.” Indeed. Indeed.com.
3. “Acupuncturist Salary.” Salary.com.
4. Behring, S., & J. Bennett. “What Can I Earn as an Acupuncturist?” All Star Directories, Inc.
5. “Acupuncturist salary.” Sokanu Interactive Inc. Careerexplorer.com.
6. “Frequently Asked Questions.” MH Sub I, LLC. Acufinder.com.
7. “Average Acupuncturist Hourly Pay.” PayScale, Inc. Payscale.com
8. “How Much Do Entry Level Acupuncturist Jobs Pay per Month?” ZipRecruiter, Inc. Ziprecruiter.com.
9. “Career Outlook for Acupuncturists.” Recruiter.com, Inc. Recruiter.com.