Are you looking for a new career? Do you need a flexible work schedule? Do you yearn for a professional path into a field that's growing? Do you want to help people every day? If so, exploring flexible careers in holistic health makes sense. Find out some of the top careers in natural and integrative health fields that offer practitioners the ability to make their own schedules, choose from a variety of work settings, and otherwise customize their professional life to their needs, interests and desires.
Top professions to consider
The demand for alternative medical treatments is growing, and Americans spend a significant amount of money on complementary treatments. Federal researchers announced last year that Americans spent almost $30 billion — or about $500 per person — annually on alternative medicine. Most of those dollars were spent on services, as opposed to herbal medicines or DIY treatments. The report said:
"More was spent on visits to complementary practitioners ($14.7 billion) than for purchases of natural product supplements ($12.8 billion) or self-care approaches ($2.7 billion)."
Becoming a practitioner of holistic health techniques means tapping into this growing trend. These are some of the disciplines to consider:
- Acupuncture and Oriental medicine
- Chiropractic care
- Massage therapy
- Yoga instruction
- Homeopathic medicine
Attributes of flexible careers
Maybe you have a family and need to find a job that lets you achieve a work-life balance. Maybe you need a career path that will allow you to transition gradually (for example, by pursuing a degree while working in another field). Maybe you just don't see yourself working a traditional 9 to 5 gig. Fortunately, holistic health offers a variety of careers that allow you to set your own schedule, and work as many hours as you can while balancing other life obligations. Massage is a great career option for mothers who need to work part-time, but may go back to full-time hours when their children become school age, for example.
In addition to the scheduling flexibility of holistic health careers, you'll also be able to choose from a variety of work settings, from resorts, spas and gyms to medical facilities. Massage therapists and yoga instructors, for example, may also find work in corporate settings. Some practitioners may also offer their services through holistic health centers that offer a variety of holistic health treatments. Finally, many open their own practices. Mixing and matching is also an option — you could spend part of your week offering services in a corporate environment, at a spa and in a medical facility, for example.
Training for jobs in holistic health
Depending on which avenue of holistic health you intend to pursue, the training requirements will differ. You may be able to get a certification to become a yoga teacher within a few months, for example, while an academic program in a field like chiropractic care or Oriental medicine will likely take years. Those disciplines with longer programs —such as massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care — will likely include a rigorous course of study, as well as clinical practice. Pursuing a certification in a field like Tai Chi or Qigong may require a shadowing a teach for a certain number of hours, for example.
When deciding what specific field to pursue, the American Holistic Health Association suggests asking yourself whether you want to help diagnose and treat those who are ill or injured through the recovery process in the manner of a traditional doctor or help people who are generally in good health enhance wellness. Let that answer guide which practices you consider.
Obviously, the longer the time commitment to become a legitimate practitioner of the discipline you pursue, the more financial investment you will likely make in your education. Fortunately, you can apply for financial aid at accredited colleges for fields like massage and acupuncture.
For more information about the Acupuncture & Massage College's degree programs in Massage Therapy and Oriental Medicine, contact the admissions department at (305) 595-9500. Download the AMC's free ebook to learn everything you need to know about careers in alternative medicine and holistic health.