Becoming a Natural Health Consultant: Salary & Job Description

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Learn about a natural health consultant's job description and training requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a natural health consulting career.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Natural Health Consultant

Natural health consultants recommend natural and alternative health care methods to promote physical and mental wellness. Check out the chart below to learn more about the pros and cons of natural health consulting to determine if this career is the right fit for you.

Pros of a Natural Health Consultant Career
Can help clients develop healthier lifestyles and improve overall well-being*
Some jobs require no official education, since job training covers important topics**
You may be prepared to start your own practice after completing a certificate or diploma program in natural health consulting, which may last less than one year*
Having your own health practice comes with the freedom of being your own boss*

Cons of a Natural Health Consultant Career
The legal status of this practice differs throughout the U.S., possibly creating complications for starting a business*
Job boards don't often have advertisements for natural health consultants**
Starting your own practice requires obtaining a business license***
May need a doctorate, requiring about eight years of education, to establish your credentials and pave the way for a successful career*

Sources: *College programs in natural health, **Online job boards, ***Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board.

Essential Career Info

Job Description

Natural health consultants strive to suggest preventative and therapeutic remedies that help body systems work more efficiently, without invasive procedures or medications. Your clients may be seeking natural ways to control pain, quit smoking, overcome drug addictions, sleep or manage weight. You would focus on promoting wellness through holistic health lifestyles and individualized treatment plans that could incorporate herbal remedies, aromatherapy and diet modifications. Natural health consultants may be naturopathic doctors (NDs) who have some education in traditional medical science fortified with training in various natural health subjects. They may also focus on a particular aspect of natural health, such as holistic nutrition.

You should know that the legality and regulation of natural health professions varies among states, so you should check your state's rules. Natural health careers may be governed by official court decisions or the traditional customs of a region.

Career Outlook and Salary

This is a niche career, so comprehensive national statistics on employment trends and earnings are yet to exist. However, Payscale.com reported in 2015 that the median annual salary for health care consultants in general was around $72,000. The majority of naturopathic doctors earned a total pay that ranged from approximately $34,000-$158,000, though the sample size was rather small.

Requirements

Education Paths

There isn't a standard educational path to becoming a natural health consultant. Some schools offer career development certificate or diploma programs in natural health consulting or a similar holistic health subject. These programs can add to the skill set of practicing holistic health professionals, but you can also enroll without prior training in natural health. You usually study anatomy and physiology, nutrition, medical terminology and holistic pathology; you can also learn various non-traditional modalities of treatment, like herbal remedies and homeopathy. Some programs may prepare you for certification in an aspect of natural health, such as holistic nutrition. Other education programs, like biology and health science, may help prepare you to work in the natural health consulting industry.

If you're committed to starting a career in natural health consulting and you'd like a repertoire of knowledge areas and natural remedies, you might consider earning a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree. You first need to complete a bachelor's degree program that includes coursework in chemistry, biology, math, physics and psychology. The doctoral program typically lasts four years and includes clinical skills and interdisciplinary body systems courses, as well as naturopathic classes that cover environmental medicine, homeopathy and botanical medicine.

Licensure

Though there are no licensure standards for natural health consultants in general, naturopathic doctors must be licensed or registered in 16 states, which requires passing the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX), consisting of a biomedical science exam and a clinical skills exam. You'll need to periodically complete continuing education courses to maintain licensure. According to the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC), multiple states without official ND licensing criteria do still permit naturopathic doctors to provide consulting services, but based on diagnoses from regular medical doctors.

Important Qualities and Skills

Communication abilities are vital for understanding your patients' lifestyles and providing appropriate consultations. Wide-ranging plant knowledge is good to have, since herbal remedies, floral essences and strong phytotherapy formulas are often part of natural health treatments. Having an entrepreneurship mindset and business skills are also important, since you may need to establish your own practice.

What Employers Are Seeking

Because this is a niche career field characterized by self-employment, finding advertisements for natural health consultant openings is challenging, as revealed by online searches for job postings in August 2012. Companies that did list job ads were typically flexible in their requirements and preferred a strong interest in natural health, since job training is often provided. Below are summaries of a few natural health consulting jobs open during that time.

  • A wellness center in Georgia was seeking a part-time natural health consultant with knowledge of herbal remedies. The job involves recommending herbal formulas and natural healing methods. On-the-job training and participation in continuing education natural health classes is required. Candidates should have great communication and math abilities and knowledge of human anatomy was preferred.
  • A small natural health business in New York was looking for a consultant to work at three offices, promoting natural health and living products to customers and developing marketing initiatives. Research skills and creativity were requested, along with a keen interest in the natural health field. Having an education background in nutrition or health would be beneficial, though job training would be required.
  • A Detroit company was hiring contractors to sell naturopathic and alternative medicine products. Applicants could be naturopathic doctors or individuals with specialized knowledge in botanical medicine, detoxification, or clinical nutrition, among other areas. Some college education and 2-5 years of experience were required.

Stand Out in the Job Market

Evaluate State Regulations

Because natural health consulting regulations vary, it's a good idea to look into your state's rules to find out if you need any special credentials or must abide by certain restrictions. Though it's a big decision to make, you might find that another state better accommodates your natural health consulting career aspirations and decide to relocate to improve your chances of success.

Get Certified

Being board-certified demonstrates your expertise in the field and your credibility, lending to better job prospects. The American Council of Holistic Medicine (ACHM) certifies consultants in numerous areas of natural health, including alternative medicine, naturopathy and holistic health. Continuing education courses must be completed yearly to keep your certification valid.

The Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board (HNCB), part of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP), offers certification in holistic nutrition. You must be a member of NANP, complete an education program approved by NANP and submit proof of 500 hours of professional experience to be eligible to take the certification exam.

Other Natural Health Careers

If you would like to follow a career path with a more definitive education route and recognized credentialing process, you have some options in the natural and alternative health field. As mentioned above, you could become an ND and do natural health consulting work, in addition to being a primary health practitioner, wellness educator or researcher. Additional natural health career fields are acupuncturist and nutritionist, detailed below.

Acupuncturist

Acupuncture is a healing method that involves inserting needles into particular points of the body to stimulate nerves and cause beneficial chemical reactions that reduce pain. To become an acupuncturist, you'll need to complete a graduate program. Master's and doctoral degree programs, plus graduate certificate and diploma programs, are available. Some combined bachelor's and master's degree programs exist, and acupuncture programs may be coupled with Oriental medicine studies. You can expect to study human anatomy, meridians and points of the body, biochemistry, biophysics, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) diagnosis, TCM pathology, TCM nutrition, acupuncture therapeutics and electroacupuncture.

Most acupuncturists are self-employed, like natural health consultants. Nearly all states regulate acupuncture practice, though the requirements vary by state. Most states require you to pass the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) exam and/or obtain NCCAOM certification in order to be licensed, though states may have additional requirements. Specific job outlook statistics are not available; however, Payscale.com reported in August 2012 that the majority of licensed acupuncturists earned a yearly salary between about $24,000 and $87,000.

Nutritionist

To become a nutritionist, you'll need to complete a bachelor's degree program and internship. Coursework may include food science, food and culture, nutritional needs throughout the life, genetics and nutrition and clinical nutrition. Programs with a didactic program in dietetics (DPD) qualify you for an internship, which will make you eligible to take the exam to become a registered dietician (RD). Your job duties could include evaluating clients' eating habits and designing dietary modifications; creating nutrition plans for targeted groups of people, like those with high blood pressure or pregnant woman; or planning school meals. You might also be self-employed as a diet consultant.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected a faster-than-average increase in employment of 20% between 2010 and 2020. As reported by the BLS, in May 2011, nutritionists earned a median annual salary of about $54,000. The majority of nutritionists earned between approximately $34,000 and $76,000 yearly.

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Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

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The George Washington University

  • Graduate Certificate in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

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Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

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Kaplan University

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor: Health and Wellness
  • Bachelor: Nutrition Science

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Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MBA: Health Systems Management
  • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care

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Keiser University

  • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Health Administration

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