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What is Acupuncture?

The genesis of the word acupuncture comes from two Latin words: acus (needle) and punctura (penetration) or the use of needles to penetrate.  Acupuncture is a broad term in the field of alternative medicine used to represent a number of techniques and theories to create harmony, balance, and health through stimulation or pain blocking accomplished through the use of needles.  The needles used by a licensed, certified acupuncturist can be stimulated manually or via electric stimulation depending on the method and theory utilized.

Degree Median Salary vs Adjacent Degree Types

Source: BLS, US Census, and IPEDS

2021 Best Acupuncture Schools

UB provides a variety of program options for students to assist them in their growth and development. The school is located in Bridgeport, Connecticut and operated as a private institution. Approximately five thousand students are enrolled yearly at UB.

Here is a list of some of the popular programs UB offers:

  • Engineering
  • Business And Marketing Studies
  • Education
  • Engineering Technology
  • Family And Consumer Sciences

Students applying for admission are generally required to submit an application, transcripts, records, standardized test scores and any requested application essays, which will then be reviewed by the admissions staff. Students may provide either the ACT or SAT scores to be considered for admissions at this school. A score in a range of 1230 - 1520 on the SAT, or 17 - 22 for the ACT is common among admitted students. UB admits approximately 60 percent of applicants annually. Of those students admitted, about 13 percent registered for enrollment. More information from the admissions office can be found at

Tuition is approximately $30,000 for the year, though it may change based on different types of circumstances. Students may visit the school's price of attendance calculator to see the personalize cost of attendance. Some students at UB may qualify for financial aid, which is typically offered as grants or student loans.

The mascot for University of Bridgeport is the "Purple Knights", and they participate in intercollegiate athletics through the NCAA. Athletic programs offered may include:

  • Baseball (NCAA Division II)
  • Basketball (NCAA Division II)
  • Gymnastics (NCAA Division II)
  • Lacrosse (NCAA Division II)

Students may visit the school's to view additional information.

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The American Institute of Alternative Medicine (AIAM) was founded in 1990 in Columbus, Ohio, with one program enrolling 14 students. It now offers six programs to over 200 students every year, and boasts over 1500 graduated professionals practicing across the globe.

One of its latest additions is the School of Nursing, which offers two tracks to the Associate Degree in Nursing (RN). Launched in 2009, the school’s direct entry track to RN consists of a curriculum that has been designed incorporating traditional and holistic nursing and health care strategies. The Advanced Placement track is meant for current Licensed Practical Nurses as training for the NCLEX-RN Examination and subsequent licensure for the State of Ohio.

The AIAM also consists of a School of Acupuncture and a School of Massage, both of which offer visitors the chance to experience therapy sessions conducted by students or by faculty members. The school is well-known for its highly skilled faculty, who work closely with students in state-of-the art multimedia-supported classroom and clinical environments.

In-state and out-of-state tuition fall between $11,000 and $14,000, and 87% of those enrolled in 2012 availed of financial aid – primarily through student loans, but also by way of scholarships and grants.

As an institution serving the diverse population of Columbus, the AIAM contributes to the community by offering continuing education opportunities that are announced from time to time. It also has the distinction of being the only accredited acupuncture school within a 6-hour drive of Columbus.

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About Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science, located in Boston, Massachusetts, was founded in 1823, and is a private institution. The school was founded by fourteen pharmacists and holds the distinction of being the oldest higher education institution in the city, and the second oldest school of pharmacy in the United States. T

MCPHS received degree granting ability in allied health through a charter change in 1979. Since then the school has added two campuses, located in Worcester, Massachusetts and Manchester, New Hampshire, as well as the addition of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists which operates the school's dental hygiene program.
Academics Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science offers a variety of programs with a specific focus in the sciences. Undergraduate level programs combine lower and upper division courses, electives and general education requirements to create a curriculum that results in a bachelor's degree.

Master and doctoral programs have separate requirements for admission, and each requires a lower level degree to have already been earned in order to be considered. The school's graduate programs in pharmacy and physician studies are ranked among the best in the United States.
Programs offered include:

Admissions and Financial Aid MCPHS requires all applicants to supply a completed application, standardized test scores, transcripts and letters of recommendation from math or science teachers or guidance counselors. The supplied material will be reviewed and a decision rendered. Once completed, the student will be notified, and if admitted, will be supplied the information necessary to prepare for enrollment.

Application to graduate level and above programs have their own process and requirements. Financial aid is available in the form of loans, grants, work study programs and scholarships awarded based on need as determined by the applicants information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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Acupuncture and Massage College is a career school that offers specialized education and training in the field of massage therapy for residents of Miami. The school has a yearly graduation rate of 69%. A school's graduation rate is one of several indicators to measure post-graduation success among students. Acupuncture and Massage College offers student services including help with finding job options for students and career assistance for students entering a career in massage therapy.

Students are advised to look up state licensing regulations to ensure programs meet current standards. Acupuncture and Massage College is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, having held that accreditation for the last thirteen years. For information and consumer disclosures, please visit school's website.

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Are you interested in natural health? Northwestern Health Sciences University has programs in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Massage, and Chiropractic. Students learn the science of healing combined with the caring qualities of a well-rounded health care professional.

Clinical and internship opportunities are available through Northwestern's relationships with area natural health care providers such as Pillsbury House Integrated Health Clinic, The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and their own clinics: Northwestern’s Natural Care Centers.

Northwestern is located Bloomington, Minnesota; home of the Mall of America and other popular dining and shopping attractions. Bloomington is located only 10 miles from Minneapolis, yet the college offers a scenic natural refuge located on 25 acres. Northwestern Health University is a private non-profit university serving over 900 students annually.

Pre-requisite requirements differ between the specific programs. Check more information regarding admission to specific colleges within the university. Tuition and fees vary widely among the different colleges and financial aid in available.

Students at Northwestern have access to tutoring and counseling, fitness and healthcare, as well as social organization and clubs.

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Pacific College of Oriental Medicine LLC - San Diego, located in located in San Diego, California, provides program options for students interested in pursuing a career in acupuncture or alternative medicine. The school offers several programs, of which acupuncture is the school's primary program. The other being offered is in the area of alternative medicine, specifically an asian bodywork therapy program. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine LLC - San Diego provides services for students such as career assistance for students entering a career in alternative medicine, flexible courses for working or busy students, and help with finding job opportunities for students. State licensing procedures may differ, and as such it is recommended students research how to get licensure. The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has accredited the education provided by Pacific College of Oriental Medicine LLC - San Diego in the field of alternative medicine for over twelve years. For information and consumer disclosures, please check out school's website.

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Pacific College of Oriental Medicine - New York provides program options in the area of acupuncture and alternative medicine. Several different programs are available at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine - New York, all with a focus on alternative medicine, including programs in:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage Therapy
  • Herbalism

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine - New York offers services for students in the form of flexible scheduling for those with irregular schedules, alternative medicine career pathway counseling to help define goals, and job placement options.

State and county licensing procedures may vary, and as such it is recommended students research how to get licensure. This school has its alternative medicine accreditation given by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine since 1993. For information and consumer disclosures, please visit school's website.

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New York College of Health Professions is a four year private institution dedicated to offering a solid education for students located in and around Syosset. Over 1000 students have received a degree in the last few years according to annual released graduation information with a graduation rate of about 51%. New York College of Health Professions offers several programs to select from. Here are the programs with more popularity among students:

  • Massage Therapy
  • Acupuncture

To help students and recent graduates, New York College of Health Professions may provide support services like those listed below:

  • Night and weekend classes available
  • Remedial courses
  • Career path counseling

The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has accredited the education provided by New York College of Health Professions for over seventeen straight years. Get more information by visiting the school's official website, where you can see programs available, financial aid & tuition, and disclosures.

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What is Acupuncture Good For?

The benefits of acupuncture and acupressure have many demonstrable benefits. In fact, there are a number of independent studies performed by entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and NCCIH illustrating scientific confirmation of known health improvements.

According to Carolyn Chen, L.A.c there are some 365 points on the human body. All of which are connected through channels of energy, or Qi, flowing through common energy points. To achieve maximum health, energy needs to flow smoothly. Injury, blockage, or illness can result in an imbalance. Research-based acupuncture benefits that help restore health and balance include the following:

Popular Types of Acupuncture

Although the theory and practice of acupuncture began in China some two-thousand years ago, it is commonly practices around the world today. Variations on traditional Chinese acupuncture have emerged over the years yet retain the basic principles of TCM. No style has been scientifically proven to be more effective than the other but may be preferred over another by patients and practitioners.

Acupuncture may be supplemented or substituted with other types of manipulation such as: acupuncture, fire cupping, Chinese herbalism, tai chi, tui na, qigong, Swedish Massage, trigger point therapy, sports massage, deep tissue massage, neuromuscular therapy, Shiatsu, myofascial release, and/or reflexology techniques.

A list of the most commonly practiced types of acupuncture are listed below to help you understand the variants in acupuncture more concisely during the research phase of your vocational search.

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (TCM): Traditional Chinese Medicine known as TCM is the most popular form of acupuncture in the United States. The primary focus of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture is to establish balance including body, mind, physical, emotional, and spiritual for an optimal state of being.

Korean Acupuncture: Korean acupuncture has many overlapping theories with the Japanese style of acupuncture with thin needles however many needles are used in each treatment. Korean Hand Acupuncture is a subset utilizing the hand only for acupuncture treatment.

Electro Acupuncture: Electro acupuncture is a style of acupuncture involving a small electrical current being placed between two or more needles to help restore overall well-being and health.

Japanese Style Acupuncture & Classic Acupuncture: The theory and practice of Japanese Acupuncture uses thin needles in moderation when compared to Traditional Chinese Medicine, resulting in less stimulation. Japanese Style Acupuncture or Classic Acupuncture leverages the foundational principles of the Five Element Theory.

French Energetic Acupuncture & French Meridian Acupuncture: The French Energetic or French Meridian Acupuncture is rooted in TCM and widely used by acupuncturists around the globe. This style of acupuncture focused on the yin and yang of the focal meridians (stomach, large intestine, lung, heart, spleen, bladder, small intestine, kidney, triple warmer, gall bladder, pericardium, conception vessel, governing vessel, and liver).

Auricular Acupuncture: Auricular Acupuncture is a subset of acupuncture that utilizes specific points in the ear to create harmony. This discipline is often associated with pain management and addiction relief for patients of all types.

Veterinary Acupuncture: Another subset of acupuncture is veterinary acupuncture whereby licensed and certified veterinarians utilize needles to create harmony and improve health in animals.

Five-Element Acupuncture: The Five-Element Acupuncture is rooted in Chinese history and practices whereby water, wood, fire, earth, and metal are used to represent elements in the body to create harmony and balance.

Medical Acupuncture: The term medical acupuncture is used when acupuncturists in the West use it to manage pain in patients. Specific points in the body are used to mitigate pain and may or may not be accompanied with electric stimulation.

Educational Requirements in Acupuncture

A degree in acupuncture is typically pursued at the graduate level and takes between 3-4 years to complete. The education provided by such a program involves the study of traditional Chinese techniques, particularly the use of medicinal needles on various pressure points to ease pain and cure disease.

Students lacking a bachelor degree in science may be required by a given program to take certain courses prior to admission into their program, particularly anatomy and physiology courses due to the need of familiarity with the human body to perform acupuncture techniques.

A curriculum in acupuncture may include:

Programs in acupuncture prepare students for a career as an acupuncturist, which involves diagnosis and treatment for a variety of ailments. Acupuncture primarily deals with the use of needles in pressure points near or on organs in order to relax the body and promote wellness.

Additional techniques, such as acupressure massage, may be applied to facilitate treatment. The use of Chinese herbs is also taught to assist in the process, either through aromatherapy or ingestion. Ailments that may be treated by acupuncture are varied, from headaches and soreness to colitis and gastritis. The use of acupuncture for treatment is approved by the World Health Organization, falling under the category of traditional medicine.

How Do I Become an Acupuncturist?

You will be required to pass key steps to migrate your career towards becoming an acupuncturist. We have outlined each step in a simplified fashion to help you digest these requisite steps. Understand that variations will exist for your state making research a vital process for your future.

Step 1 Research Acupuncture Schools

To start your journey, you will need to initially perform research into accredited schools offering acupuncture programs. Acupuncture degrees will need to fit your academic and professional objectives. To accurately research schools, you can quickly leverage the information found here and utilize our proprietary matching portal.

Step 2 Apply to Acupuncture Colleges

Next, you will need to winnow down your list of schools to a short, manageable list of top programs in acupuncture. Invest time early in the process to understand the curricular approach, time involved in each program, and financial aid packages.

Additionally, you will need to determine if a on-site or online Certificate in Acupuncture, Bachelors Degree in Acupuncture, Masters Degree in Acupuncture, or Doctorate in Acupuncture is best for you. During the application process, highlight all related work experience and extracurricular activities that help define who you are in an effort to stand out from the other applicants as programs can be hypercompetitive.

Step 3 Attend School

After gaining admissions to the school of your choice, you will attend an accredited college or university to begin your studies as an acupuncturist. The length of time you are in school will depend on the program selected, degree type, number of credits taken at a given time, state requirements, and school curriculum. For example, a masters degree in acupuncture will typically last 3 years while the Oriental medicine trade is often a 4-year program.

Step 4 Graduate, Exams, Certification, & Work

Upon graduating from an accredited college or university with your acupuncture degree or certificate, you will likely be required by your state of residence to obtain licensure to work as an acupuncturist. Each state will stipulate the number of hours required, examinations, and licenses required.

The NCCAOM provides guidance on the certification process and state-specific requirements here. Depending on your state and employer requirements, you should consider taking continuing online education classes in acupuncture to keep up to speed and continue learning. You will also need to maintain your NCCAOM certification every four years.

Employment Opportunities for Acupuncturists

In the United States, acupuncture is normally performed through private clinics or holistic medical centers providing alternative medicine therapies. Individuals will typically work under an experienced professional in order to obtain practical experience prior to pursuing a career of their own. Traditional medicine as a whole is growing in popularity in the United States, as a result acupuncture has become more accepted as a form of treatment resulting in growth and the spread of locations offering such services throughout the country.

Acupuncture Jobs & Salary

With the population aging in the United States, the demand for medical treatments, particularly alternative treatments, is expected to grow at a rate of 13% over the next decade adding some 17,700 jobs during that time.

The average salary for an acupuncturist is approximately $74,530, with practitioners in larger cities expecting to earn more due to population. Experienced acupuncturists may also earn more based on notoriety and years of practice. Individuals interested in acupuncture may also be interested in homeopathy, naturopathy, traditional Asian medicine, and herbology.

Resources for Acupuncturists

  • Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM)
  • National Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NAAOM)
  • Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR)
  • American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (AAMA)
  • Council of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (CAOMA)
  • American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM)

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