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At a Glance

  • Treat patients using a variety of oriental medicine practices
  • Use tools such as needles, cups, seeds, and herbal supplements
  • Focus on overall patient health
  • May work independently or as part of a group practice
  • May work long hours
  • Have training beyond a bachelor's degree
  • May need a license

Career summary

Acupuncturists treat many common ailments. They do this by inserting thin needles through the skin at specific points on the body.

Acupuncturists may also be called East Asian Medicine Practitioners.

Acupuncturists gather information from each patient about their general health and lifestyle. They ask patients about their medical history. They also do a physical examination.

Oriental medicine traditions are used to make a diagnosis. A treatment plan is developed for each patient. Acupuncture treatment is used to stimulate specific parts of the body. Acupuncturists see each patient regularly and make changes to the treatment plan as needed. Acupuncturists maintain and follow standard safety, environmental, and infection control standards.

Tools used in acupuncture include:

Acupuncturists talk to patients about good health practices such as:

Acupuncturists keep detailed records about the treatment they provide to each patient and the patient's prognosis. They sometimes make referrals to other health care providers.

Some acupuncturists work in private practice and oversee the business aspects of running an office. This may include hiring staff, ordering supplies, and billing insurance.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to acupuncturists.

Common work activities

Acupuncturists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, acupuncturists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Acupuncturists frequently:

It is important for acupuncturists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for acupuncturists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Acupuncturists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an acupuncturist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

To become a licensed acupuncturist, you must complete an acupuncture program. Acupuncture programs grant Master of Oriental Medicine (MOM) and Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM) degrees.

When studying oriental anatomy, you learn about energy meridians and acu-points along the meridians. You also learn which points are useful for the treatment of various illnesses and imbalances. Gradually, students focus more on clinical practices including diagnosis through observation, evaluating pulses, and interviewing patients about symptoms and lifestyle practices.

Before entering acupuncture school, most students earn a bachelor's degree. If you earn a liberal arts degree, be sure to take courses in anatomy, biology, and chemistry.

On-the-job training

While in acupuncture school, you spend much of the last year working in a clinical setting. Clinical work emphasizes diagnosing and treating patients with acupuncture and herbal medicines.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link). You need a very strong background in math and science to become a doctor. Take as many math and science courses as you can.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Many acupuncturists are self-employed. Others work in small group practices. When looking for practice partners or hiring salaried employees, acupuncturists prefer people who get along well with others and share a similar philosophy about treating patients. To build a practice, acupuncturists must be understanding and demonstrate a desire to help others. They also must be organized and able to work independently.


Talk with people who work in this occupation. Do volunteer work in a clinic or acupuncturist's office. The desire to help people feel better is important.

Costs to workers

Many acupuncturists also join professional associations, which may have annual dues. Some acupuncturists share office space with other health professionals, such as chiropractors, which can reduce operating expenses such as office staff and equipment and rent.


Acupuncturists must be licensed to practice in the State of Washington. The professional name of acupuncturists was recently changed by state law to East Asian Medicine Practitioners (EAMP). This law also clarified the scope of practice for this profession. However, workers may still call themselves acupuncturists or licensed acupuncturists.

Licensing requirements include:

The application fee is $109 and the annual renewal fee is $205.

#updated fees from website 2/8/11 lh.

For more information, contact:

Washington State Department of Health
East Asian Medicine Practitioner Program (external link)

PO Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504-7877

#No changes to this section 1/25/16 cj. no changes 1/17/17 lh, or 1/29/18 cj. no CE reqs, all else fine 4/15/19 lh


Health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other (SOC 29-1199)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $17.57 $25.78 $31.92 $45.91 $70.20
Monthly $3,045 $4,468 $5,532 $7,956 $12,166
Yearly $36,540 $53,620 $66,390 $95,490 $146,010
    Bellingham Hourly $12.77 $16.81 $28.50 $39.39 $54.82
Monthly $2,213 $2,913 $4,939 $6,826 $9,500
Yearly $26,555 $34,962 $59,278 $81,947 $114,025
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $19.94 $25.86 $34.90 $49.22 $60.81
Monthly $3,456 $4,482 $6,048 $8,530 $10,538
Yearly $41,482 $53,798 $72,584 $102,374 $126,486
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $17.65 $23.22 $32.11 $37.53 $43.07
Monthly $3,059 $4,024 $5,565 $6,504 $7,464
Yearly $36,720 $48,303 $66,778 $78,062 $89,585
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $17.56 $26.04 $32.48 $48.00 $101.11
Monthly $3,043 $4,513 $5,629 $8,318 $17,522
Yearly $36,519 $54,153 $67,541 $99,849 $210,317
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $18.94 $25.76 $33.93 $46.65 $66.47
Monthly $3,282 $4,464 $5,880 $8,084 $11,519
Yearly $39,410 $53,580 $70,577 $97,037 $138,254
    Vancouver Hourly $17.11 $24.66 $34.60 $48.28 $57.35
Monthly $2,965 $4,274 $5,996 $8,367 $9,939
Yearly $35,588 $51,289 $71,970 $100,423 $119,291
United States Hourly $19.67 $27.01 $35.56 $52.70 $67.95
Monthly $3,409 $4,681 $6,163 $9,133 $11,776
Yearly $40,910 $56,180 $73,960 $109,610 $141,330

Earnings are based on the years of experience and number of hours worked. The acupuncturist's skill and personality also affect earnings.

Acupuncturists who work in a group practice may receive benefits such as paid vacation and health insurance.

National wage information is not available specifically for acupuncturists. However, they are part of the larger group of "all other health diagnosing and treating practitioners."

Employment and outlook

Washington employment

According to licensing information from the State of Washington at the time this career was updated, there are 1,440 licensed acupuncturists actively licensed in Washington. Most acupuncturists are self-employed.

#No employment info available 05.15 sd Hiding the no state specific info statement for now since we do cite a licensing number, 2/11/14 cj.

#Sent email for licensing # to main DOH cust svc address 1/31/12 cj. TK rec'd call with updated figure (2/3/12) of 1,258 (was 1,183). Cj. Waiting for response to request lh updated 8/13/13. Sent lic # request 1/30; rec'd new #1,262 (was 1,298) 2/3/14 cj. Received new lic data (1,408; was 1,262) from Vicki Brown (Vicki.Brown@DOH.WA.GOV) 1/26/16 cj. Sent email to gen licensing address 1/29/18; rec'd mail from Cara Bryant, who said fwd request to Public Disclosure ofc; ended up getting new # from Vicki 1/31/18 cj.

Washington outlook

#Currently, there is no specific statewide outlook information available for acupuncturists. However, this occupation is part of the larger group called "all other health diagnosing and treating practitioners.”

#Between 2014 and 2024, it is estimated that for all other health diagnosing and treating practitioners there will be 49 openings annually due to new positions and 52 openings from workers leaving this career.

#No outlook info available; updated general outlook stmt 05.16 sd

In Washington, the number of licenses for acupuncturists has usually increased each year. Growth in this occupation is expected to continue.

State law requires that certain types of alternative medicine, including acupuncture, be covered by insurance companies based in Washington. This, along with growing public awareness and increasing mainstream medical acceptance of acupuncture treatment, is expected to create more demand for this occupation. More people may seek acupuncture as an additional form of treatment since it lacks the dangerous side effects of some types of conventional medicine.

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners, All Other (SOC 29-1199)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 1,822 26.1% 16.1% 198
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 17 11.8% 13.4% 1
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 25 8.0% 8.6% 1
    Benton and Franklin Counties 29 31.0% 15.0% 3
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 63 28.6% 11.9% 7
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 51 29.4% 15.2% 6
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 40 27.5% 14.1% 4
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 89 38.2% 14.6% 11
    King County 1,117 25.1% 19.6% 119
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 17 23.5% 13.8% 1
    Pierce County 169 21.9% 15.2% 16
    Snohomish County 100 36.0% 12.4% 13
    Spokane County 97 18.6% 13.9% 9
United States 56,800 10.9% 5.2% 3,400

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation is growing. Natural and alternative approaches to staying healthy are gaining public acceptance and interest in the US. Even with greater acceptance from patients and health insurance companies, the occupation is small. Insurance companies are beginning to cover alternative medical practices. This is because preventive medicine saves money. As people learn to rely more upon healthy lifestyles and natural healing, acupuncture becomes more popular.

Employment and outlook information is not available specifically for acupuncturists. However, they are part of the larger group of "all other health diagnosing and treating practitioners."

Other resources


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Holland occupational cluster