Acupuncturist Job Description

Acupuncturist Job Description, Skills and Salary

Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of an acupuncturist. Feel free to use our acupuncturist job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as an acupuncturist.


Who is an Acupuncturist?

Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine and a form of alternative treatment where thin needles are inserted into the body of the patient to provide therapy. Acupuncture has been documented to be among the branches of pseudoscience since its theories and practices rarely depend on scientific knowledge. The concept of acupuncture exists in several countries; however, there are differences in technique, variant, and philosophy.

The process of acupuncture has been used to relieve pain from time memorial though most practitioners argue that it can also be used for different physical, psychological, and bodily conditions. When performed appropriately using single-use needles and cleanliness techniques, acupuncture is generally safe and yields positive results. Being an ancient practice, acupuncture enhances and improves the flow of energy and serves as a healing remedy and alternative to contemporary medicine. Importantly, acupuncture is used by some patients to complement existing treatments while others with pain, respiratory disorder, or infertility patronize acupuncture as a substitute to western medical practices. Though more studies are needed to determine the effects of acupuncture on severe medical conditions, most practitioners and patients have reported positive effects from the therapy. The principles of acupuncture are based on the ancient theory that the body relies on the balance of vital energy. Thus, an expert or professional that treats illnesses and improves health by stimulating prescribed points of the body is called an acupuncturist.

The acupuncturist consults with patients to determine symptoms, treat ailments, and perform diagnoses. This enables them to proffer treatment and therapy to some physical and psychological conditions. They use and insert sterile and specialized needles into the meridian or energy pathway of a patient at room or warm temperature depending on the treatment plan and patient involved. Since the placement and insertion of needles must be exact, précised, and tailored to the individual patient, the acupuncturist often obtains the complete medical records of patients to source for allergies, antipathies, and pre-existing medical conditions. The different conditions addressed or treated by an acupuncturist include balance or dizziness, numbness, tingling, pinched nerves, menstrual irregularities, rashes or acne, migraines, dental disorders, ear and auditory disorders, and eye disorders. Similarly, most acupuncturists treat musculoskeletal disorders including joint pain, arthritis, mobility problems, back pain, tendonitis, bursitis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Other acupuncturists provide therapy to cure or relieve mental and emotional disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, and reproductive conditions; as well as strengthen the immune system, regulate blood pressure, and improve athletic performance.

The acupuncturist takes holistic approaches to maintain health and manage illnesses. Rather than focusing on the illness or medical condition, they concentrate on the individuals or patients to improve their overall wellbeing. Once a patient approaches an acupuncturist with complaints of pains and other symptoms, the practitioner sees it as a sign of body imbalance. Next, they determine acupuncture points in the body and insert sterile and fresh needles to restore the flow of energy and trigger the body’s natural healing process. When applied correctly, the patient’s body normalcy is restored accordingly. Most acupuncturists were sculpted and shaped to become experts in the profession; they were directed to spend hours practicing the craft and studying acupoints in the human body. In addition, they learned and were prepared to become exceptional alternative healers and develop industry-based skills in the process. While performing diagnosis on patients, the acupuncturist feels the pulse, looks at the tongue, and asks questions similar to the ones asked by western medical examiners.

To relieve stress and tension, most acupuncturists develop acupuncture treatment plans to suit each patient based on their needs, conditions, and preference. While some patients might prefer or require acupuncture needles, others might need fancy nutritional supplements or therapeutic massage respectively. Essentially, an acupuncturist must possess advanced knowledge in various herbal therapy and related holistic medical practices to thrive and deliver treatment to clients. The most reliable acupuncturists ensure patients’ safety and comfort by adhering to medical recommendations and necessary precautions. Moreover, successful acupuncturists rarely work alone; they collaborate with other allied health professionals such as naturopaths, doctors, and physiotherapists. Even if they are self-employed, the acupuncturists provide therapy in multidisciplinary settings.

According to excerpts from some studies and research, an acupuncturist is vehemently knowledgeable in anatomy, shiatsu therapy, and heat or cold therapy. Also, they evaluate the lifestyle of patients during diagnosis based on oriental medicine traditions. The work conditions of acupuncturists are not too different from other health and care practitioners; they mostly work for regular hours, are situated in clinics, hospitals, or their homes, and only travel when necessary. An acupuncturist is educated and trained to provide therapy to patients of all age groups ranging from infants to adults and aged patients.

Significantly, most acupuncturists use other acupuncture techniques aside from needles to improve health including therapeutic massage, cups, acupressure, and nutritional supplements. A Brief overview of these techniques is given thus;

Trigger point acupuncture: This involves the application of acupuncture needles to points that are the sources of pain but may not be where the pain is felt.

Laser acupuncture: The acupuncturist uses a weak laser beam instead of needles to provide therapy at acupoints.

Moxibustion: This is the direct application of a moxa stick to acupoints to stimulate treatment and healing.

Electro-acupuncture: Here, mild electrical stimulations are applied either directly to the skin or through acupuncture needles.

Acupressure: This involves the use of fingers and hands to apply pressure to acupoints.

Cupping: The acupuncturist uses a warm glass cup applied to certain areas of the skin to create a vacuum and initiate treatment.

Nutritional supplementary acupuncture: In this case, drugs, vitamins, herbal extracts, or other nutritional supplements and fluids are injected into acupoints for health maintenance.

Acupuncture needle treatment: This involves the insertion and twirling of needles up and down to provide therapy.


Acupuncturist Job Description

Below are the acupuncturist job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write an acupuncturist job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.

The acupuncturist is a healthcare professional that improves several conditions and energy levels. They manipulate the body’s energy flow balance to treat emotional, circulatory, and gynecological disorders among others. The specific duties of acupuncturists are;

  • Review and evaluate the patient’s medical history and current symptoms and conditions.
  • Determine where to insert acupuncture needles by stimulating certain points in the body.
  • Explain and describe the principles of acupuncture and other complementary therapies to patients and their families.
  • Treat patients with cups, needles, ear balls, pellets, supplements, and seeds.
  • Diagnose and assess patients to determine the exact illness or discomfort.
  • Prepare herbal treatments to administer to patients by gathering and sorting necessary ingredients.
  • Collate the medical history of patients to develop appropriate treatment plans.
  • Analyze physical findings and medical records to make a diagnosis.
  • Monitor the patient’s progress and abide by laws and regulations governing the profession.
  • Ensure a safe and healthy environment for acupuncture.
  • Conduct one-on-one treatment sessions for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Incorporate other forms of treatments such as elector-acupuncture, acupressure, and Moxibustion where required.
  • Explain and discuss the outcomes of the diagnosis to the client.
  • Respond to any questions the patient may have regarding treatment plans or therapy.
  • Document and keep records of every patient and treatment administered.
  • Organize and promote the practice through sensitization and enlightenment.
  • Follow up on patients to monitor progress after treatment.
  • Stay updated on changes, trends, and development in acupuncture.


An acupuncturist must be at ease with working in different places, physical contact, and with a range of colleagues and clients. Although self-employment is prominent in the field, several conditions must be fulfilled to qualify or be fit to practice. Also, an overhead cost amongst others is an essential factor to consider before venturing into acupuncture; so is flexibility and mobility. Acupuncturists have been known to thrive in both rural and urban settings due to their training, experience working cross-culturally, and ability to offer multi-bed sessions to treat numerous clients at a time aimed at reducing treatment expenses. Thus, the qualifications for a career in acupuncture include;

Education: Depending on the location, several courses are offered on acupuncture in schools, colleges, and universities. At the end of the specific study period, the candidate obtains a bachelor’s or Master of Science degree in acupuncture (health science or Chinese medicine) depending on the level of enrolment. Employers constantly seek candidates that have studied accredited courses centered on Chinese medicine theory, physiology, anatomy, and other medical sciences. However, the most preferred educational qualification is a degree in alternative, holistic, or complementary medicine. Associate degrees in nursing, biological sciences, counseling, massage therapy, and allied health can suffice.

Work experience: Job shadowing, an internship, and practical experience while studying are vital ways of gaining job experience in acupuncture. Employers and hiring managers often select applicants with little to vast work experience in the field. Job shadowing is especially recommended for fresh graduates. When shadowing, the aspiring acupuncturist observes techniques, patient care, and the general running of a clinic under the lead and guidance of an experienced professional. Furthermore, experience accumulated or derived from working within other healthcare situations is an advantage as well. Acupuncture clinics and holistic medical centers also accept candidates with experience in other areas including marketing and business.

License: An acupuncturist needs clearance and a license to practice although the requirements for licensure vary from country to country. To be eligible for a license to practice, the individual must have completed an acupuncture-related course from an accredited institution and aced a licensing examination.

Certification: Generally, an additional certification is not necessarily mandated; however, acupuncturists with such certifications are highly preferred. Examples of such certification include the International certification commission for acupuncture and oriental medicine. Also, several professional bodies offer certification and opportunities for continuing professional development globally through courses, seminars, and events.

Training: Hospices and acupuncture agencies prefer highly trained applicants. Training can improve or increase knowledge and should cover areas such as advanced acupuncture theory, specific acupuncture techniques, Chinese herbal medicine application, and other holistic medical therapies. Comparatively, some employers look for acupuncturists who have undergone specialized and specific training in addiction, infertility, antenatal care, stroke rehabilitation, pain management, oncology, and psychiatric care.

Knowledge: Knowledge of the biological and medicinal components of plants and animals is essential for all acupuncturists. Relatively, they should have unrestricted knowledge of living organisms’ tissues, functions, cells, interdependencies, and interaction with the external environment.


Essential Skills

If you are interested in herbal treatment and alternative medical practices and methods, consider a role in acupuncture. Also, if you would like to join the holistic or complementary medicine profession, then becoming an acupuncturist should be at the top of your list. Because these healthcare professionals perform therapy on the sick, certain hard and soft skills are needed to cope with the exhausting demands. Compiled below is a list of the most important and relevant skills that an acupuncturist needs to be successful in the workplace and profession as a whole;

Patient care skills: This entails the diagnosis, control, and recovery from sickness as well as the maintenance of emotional and physical wellbeing. The acupuncturist must apply his/her services to provide excellent healthcare to the patient.

Sales and marketing skills: The individual must be skilled in the principles and methods of showing, promoting, and advertising acupuncture services to patients.

Dependability: The acupuncturist must be reliable, responsible, and dependable to fulfill all obligations and progress in the role.

Self-control: The occupation requires maintaining composure, patience, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior in difficult situations.

An open, non-judgmental approach is another essential skill for an acupuncturist.


How to Become an Acupuncturist?

To become an acupuncturist, you must gain the necessary education requirements, have extensive skills, and gain knowledge and experience to perform holistic treatments on patients. The following are steps to guide you on how to become an acupuncturist;

Enroll in a degree program: After graduating from high school, enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in biology, anatomy, and other related fields. This offers an introduction to holistic and complementary medicine as well as the human body.

Earn a master’s degree from an accredited university: Next, obtain a master’s degree in a relevant field from an accredited institution. This will give you an advanced study and knowledge of acupuncture and other treatment methods to heal patients of various injuries, illnesses, or disorders.

Apply for and receive licensure: Many countries make a license to practice compulsory for all acupuncturists. Therefore, research your country’s requirements for licensing, pass the necessary examination, and receive a license to start practicing legally.

Gain on-the-job training and experience: Once you’ve received your license to practice, start by job shadowing other professionals in an acupuncture clinic to understand common techniques further and learn how to operate an acupuncture clinic. This will enable you to develop additional skills, experience, perform efficiently in the role and perform therapy on your own.

Pursue additional education: If you intend to open your practice, it is vital to pursue a Doctor of Acupuncture degree. This enables you to conduct advanced research on new herbal and acupuncture techniques.

Where to work

The vast majority of acupuncturists are self-employed; however, some work at private complementary healthcare or medical centers. Below are some employers of acupuncturists;

Holistic health centers: They advise patients about other therapies that might help them in addition to performing diagnosis and treatment.

Private clinics: The acupuncturist develops treatment plans and prescribes complementary therapies. They also handle marketing and other financial activities.

Integrative medical centers: They work with other healthcare providers to discuss each patient’s overall care plan and use acupuncture theories to provide treatment.

Wellness centers or spas: They provide massage therapy and other treatment to patients.

Others include cancer treatment centers, sports injury treatment centers, fertility clinics, and addiction centers.


Acupuncturist Salary Scale

According to findings, the median salary for an acupuncturist is $82,420 per year depending on location and employer. In the United Kingdom, acupuncturist earnings are related to the success of the practice and are estimated to be £31,000 annually.

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