What is an Oriental Medicine Degree and What’s the ROI?

Are you considering going to acupuncture school and pursuing a degree in Oriental Medicine? Oriental Medicine is a unique health care profession that combines the holistic healing theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with the rigors of modern science and evidence-based medicine.

Because acupuncture school tuition is expensive, you may be wondering about the benefits of becoming an acupuncturist.


Well for starters, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for Acupuncturists and Healthcare Diagnosing or Treating Practitioners, All Other from May 2020 is $82,420.

This article highlights what an acupuncturist is, what they do, and the return on investment (ROI) that a Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine can provide.

What is an Acupuncturist?

Acupuncturists or Acupuncture Physicians are licensed primary healthcare providers who diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses using the modalities of Oriental Medicine. They are licensed at the State level, which requires earning a Master’s degree or higher from an accredited university.

Acupuncturists are highly trained in the diagnostic methods of Oriental Medicine, which emphasizes a highly individualized approach to identifying and treating the underlying cause of an illness and restoring the body’s natural ability to fight diseases and disorders. In other words, they are trained to heal the whole person, rather than just addressing symptoms. Some of the health issues that Acupuncturists commonly treat include depression, infertility, insomnia, and chronic pain. In addition to acupuncture, acupuncturists utilize other natural and noninvasive treatment modalities from Oriental Medicine, including cupping, prescribing Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Tuina (bodywork).


What is a Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine?

To become an acupuncturist in the US, you must earn a Master’s degree or higher from a program accredited by ACAHM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine), which was formerly known as ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine).

Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Herbal MedicineOnly students and graduates from ACAHM accredited acupuncture programs are eligible to sit for the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) board exams required to qualify for acupuncture license in most states.

There are over 50 ACAHM accredited acupuncture schools in the United States, including Acupuncture and Massage College (AMC) in Miami, Florida.

The importance of ACAHM program accreditation cannot be understated. Simply put, most states will not grant you a license to practice acupuncture if you do not graduate from an ACAHM accredited program. These programs typically require significant clinic hours, so beware of any online acupuncture programs, since they may not qualify individuals for licensure.

A list of ACAHM accredited acupuncture schools is available from the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine (CCAHM), formerly known as the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM).


 Is an Acupuncture Degree the Same Thing as an Oriental Medicine Degree?

As you’re researching acupuncture schools, you may notice that some ACAHM accredited colleges offer separate degree programs in Acupuncture and in Oriental Medicine.

While similar, there is a stark difference between the two programs. Generally speaking, acupuncture degree programs do not provide training in Chinese herbology, while Oriental Medicine programs do.

The difference is important in regards to licensing because the scope of practice for acupuncturists varies between states. Some states, including Florida, require all acupuncturists to hold an NCCAOM Chinese Herbology certification for licensure. Other states only require the Chinese herb certification to practice herbal medicine, but not to practice acupuncture.


As such, it is important to know what the education requirements and scope of practice are in the state you wish to become a licensed acupuncturist in.

The Master of Oriental Medicine program at Acupuncture and Massage College meets all the education requirements to sit for the NCCAOM board exams required by the Florida Board of Acupuncture for state licensure, including the NCCAOM Chinese Herbology exam.

Ways You’ll Get ROI with an Oriental Medicine Degree

Earning a degree in Oriental Medicine offers several ways to get a good return on your tuition investment.

Flexible Job Options and Work Environments for Acupuncturists

An Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine education provide the possibility for many rewarding career paths.

Acupuncturists in the United States are employed in a variety of different professional settings, including integrative medical clinics, hospitals, private practices, community health centers, chiropractic offices, pain clinics, and other places related to healthcare and medicine.


After finishing an ACAHM accredited program, and passing any required NCCAOM board exams, graduates apply for and are granted their state licenses, making them licensed Acupuncturists or Acupuncture Physicians. 

Many acupuncture physicians, especially early on in their careers, offer their services to the population at large, while others decide to specialize.

These acupuncturists may specialize in treating one kind of illness/disorder, such as infertility or addiction treatment, or may specialize in treating certain patient populations, such as women’s health. Other acupuncturists even specialize in integrative medicine, meaning that they specialize in practicing Oriental Medicine in conjunction with conventional medicine. Additionally, many acupuncture physicians spend years in practice but then decide to go into academia and become instructors at holistic medicine colleges, such as acupuncture, chiropractic, or naturopathic medical schools.

Excellent Job Growth and Career Outlook For Acupuncturists

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is practiced in all 50 states, while forty-seven states (and the District of Columbia) regulate the practice. Most of these state regulations have only come about in the past 30 years, which is quite recent for the regulation of medicine. NCCAOM provides a map with acupuncture state-licensure details.


This means that career prospects for acupuncturists are growing each day as more and more people look for affordable, yet effective and natural treatments for a variety of illnesses and disorders. In a major review study conducted by the Acupuncture Evidence Project, it was concluded that acupuncture was effective for around 117 conditions, including musculoskeletal pain, Heart disease, and infertility.

Oriental Medicine’s documented effectiveness combined with the general population’s growing interest in organic, natural, and drug-free options is a positive sign for the growth of acupuncture careers. In fact, the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) projects 3,600 acupuncture jobs to be added between 2020 and 2030.

Oriental Medicine Career Fulfillment

It’s no secret that many medical and healthcare career fields pay well and offer great job prospects. However, acupuncture offers a sense of fulfillment that most of these fields do not.

Acupuncturists have the satisfaction of offering a holistic, natural, and personal approach to healing that’s absent in conventional medicine. Whereas Western medicine typically only addresses the symptoms of an illness or disorder, Oriental Medicine seeks to understand the root cause of an issue.


For example, let’s say a patient is struggling with insomnia. Because the main symptom of insomnia is an inability to sleep, a conventional medical doctor will likely just prescribe sleep medicine and may get referred to a specialist if it gets worse.

In contrast, Oriental Medicine takes a holistic approach to healing and seeks to restore the body’s natural abilities to ward off illness and disease. This means that acupuncturists do not diagnose a condition based on symptoms alone. Instead, acupuncturists seek to understand the root cause of an issue. This means that they will take the time to learn as much about a patient’s medical history and current lifestyle to see what may be contributing to the illness.

acupuncture-is-fulfilling-careerIn the case of the patient with insomnia, an acupuncturist may ask about stress levels, diet, daily habits, recent life changes, and other issues that may be contributing to the recent lack of sleep.

Additionally, unlike in conventional medicine, where prescribing drugs for every disorder is normal, acupuncture physicians fulfill an important role in medicine by offering natural, yet effective treatment options to patients. This is an especially important role needed in healthcare today, given how many prescription drugs, such as opioids, can easily become addictive. 

Acupuncture Employment and Wage Information

Going to graduate school for any degree is a big investment that requires both time and financial resources. As such, it is important to know employment and wage information, as well as information about paying off your student loans.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for Acupuncturists and Healthcare Diagnosing or Treating Practitioners, All Other from May 2020 is $82,420. However, earnings vary depending on many factors, such as location and industry.


For example, according to the same BLS report, acupuncturists who worked for the federal government (Federal Executive Branch - OEWS Designation) earned an annual median wage of $107,320, while those that worked for Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools earned an annual median wage of $87,450.

And while no school can guarantee you a job, every ACAHM accredited acupuncture school should be able to tell you what their job-placement rate for graduates is. At Acupuncture and Massage College, the odds are in your favor. Between 2020 and 2021, the average job-placement rate for Oriental Medicine graduates at Acupuncture and Massage College is 73%!

Oriental Medicine Program at Acupuncture and Massage College in Miami, Florida

Acupuncture and Massage College trains acupuncture students to identify underlying imbalances in people and to treat the root cause of issues utilizing natural and non-invasive modalities of Oriental Medicine, meaning that you’ll focus on holistically healing individuals rather than just treating diseases.

If you’re ready to answer your vocation as a healer, click here to request more information about our acupuncture school or call (305)595-9500. Acupuncture and Massage College is located at 10506 North Kendall Drive, Miami, Florida 33176.


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