Herbology Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

About this article
Get the truth about salaries in the field of herbology. Read the job description and learn about education and training requirements and career prospects to decide if a herbology career is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of a Career in Herbology

Herbology is a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Some people are drawn to CAM as a career due to its natural, non-toxic approach. A comparison of CAM occupations is provided below.

Naturopathic DoctorAcupuncturistHerbalist
Career OverviewNaturopathic doctors use natural therapies like herbology to treat various medical conditions.Acupuncturists use needles, herbology and other therapies to treat various medical conditions.Herbalists cultivate and research medicinal plants and herbs to develop healing remedies.
Education RequirementsDoctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) degreeCompletion of an acupuncture program; Master of Oriental Medicine, Doctor of Oriental Medicine or similar programVaries; short courses to 4-year programs available
Program LengthFour years beyond undergraduate studiesApproximately three years beyond undergraduate studiesSix months to four years, depending on the program
Additional TrainingContinuing education required in some statesContinuing education required for license renewalClinical education may be required
Certification and/or LicensingLicense required in some statesLicense required in most states Certification available from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) for the practice of Chinese herbology
Job Outlook for 2012-2022Average job growth (8%-14%) compared to all occupations*Average job growth (8%-14%) compared to all occupations* N/A
Median Salary (2014) Roughly $59,000** About $45,000** N/A

Sources: *O*Net Online (figure includes all occupations under the health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other category), **Payscale.com

Naturopathic Doctor

Naturopathic doctors are holistic practitioners who consider a patient's body, mind and spirit before determining the cause of a medical disorder and the type of treatment that will be most effective. They take a patient's lifestyle, emotional state and diet into account, so that treatment is tailored for each individual. Naturopathic doctors incorporate a variety of natural therapies into their practices, including herbology, nutrition, detoxification and hydrotherapy. Some naturopathic doctors work as primary care physicians. Other career options for naturopathic doctors include research, teaching, consulting and selling natural products.

Requirements

A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for admission to an ND program. It typically takes four years to earn an ND, and common courses in the core curriculum include botanical medicine, nutrition, biochemistry, diagnostic imaging and pathology. A combination of lecture, clinical experience and laboratory courses may also be required to obtain the degree.

Some states regulate the practice of naturopathic medicine and require a license to practice. The typical requirements for licensure include completing a 4-year, professional-level program in naturopathic medicine and passing the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam. Continuing education is required to maintain the license.

This is what employers were looking for in December 2012:

  • A natural health center in North Carolina sought a licensed naturopathic doctor with two years of experience to build a client base and specialize in one area, such as infertility, anxiety or female conditions. There was the possibility of becoming a partner in three years.
  • An Oregon naturopathic clinic wanted to hire a naturopathic doctor with at least five years of experience. Experience in vitamin injection therapy was desired.
  • A complementary medicine facility in Seattle sought a naturopathic physician to maintain a private practice and expand a client base. Requirements included malpractice insurance and a state naturopathic license.

How to Stand Out

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) is a professional organization that can help you expand your client base. Membership benefits include information on building your practice and a directory listing where prospective clients can search for naturopathic doctors. The AANP also provides educational video clips that you can post on your professional website to attract clients.

Acupuncturist

Acupuncturists treat various medical conditions by inserting needles at specific points in the body. This oriental system of medicine is based on the philosophy that disease is caused by a disruption of energy flow in the body, and that by inserting needles at the correct points, blockages can be removed to restore energy flow and health. Acupuncture is a technique used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which includes the use of herbal therapy, and many acupuncturists use medicinal Chinese herbs in their practices. Various parts of the herbs and plants, such as the roots, leaves, flowers and seeds, are prescribed for different medical conditions. Many acupuncturists work in hospitals or develop private practices, while others work in the fields of education, research and publishing.

Requirements

You must complete an acupuncture program to treat patients using the needle technique. A typical master's program, such as the Master of Science in Acupuncture or Master of Oriental Medicine, includes courses in herbology, acupuncture techniques and clinical services. Most states require you to obtain a license before you can use acupuncture in your healthcare practice. Although state licensure requirements vary, a passing grade on the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine exam is typically required, and continuing education is necessary to renew the license.

Employers were seeking the following in December 2012:

  • A provider of Chinese medicine services in Virginia was looking for an acupuncturist to diagnose and treat patients using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, moxibustion and cupping. Requirements included a master's degree or equivalent in acupuncture or Oriental medicine, three years of experience and a state license (or ability to acquire one).
  • A Minnesota university sought an associate dean of clinical education for its college of acupuncture and oriental medicine. Duties included consulting with the herbal dispensary manager, overseeing clinical education policies and procedures and overseeing clinic operations. A master's degree in Oriental medicine or acupuncture, at least five years of experience, and the ability to be state-licensed or a state acupuncture license was required.
  • A healing arts center in Pennsylvania sought a licensed acupuncturist with a degree to work part time. Knowledge of trigger-point needling and physical medicine was required.

How to Stand Out

Membership in a professional association like the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) demonstrates your dedication to your career and offers other benefits. The AAAOM has a search engine on its website that prospective clients can use to find practitioners in their areas, and listing your name and contact information there can help you to expand your client base. The AAAOM also offers a discount for you to set up your own website, which is another way to attract business.

Herbalist

Herbalists work with medicinal herbs in differing capacities. For example, those who have been educated in Chinese herbology may diagnose and treat patients, while others are farmers who grow the plants. Some herbalists harvest the plants in their natural habitats, a practice known as wildcrafting. Herbalists also create natural remedies or work in the fields of research, writing and education.

Requirements

The requirements for herbalists vary, depending on their goals and courses of study. Herbalist education can range from short introductory courses to 2-4 year degree and apprenticeship programs. Your education can also vary based on the type of herbalist you want to become. Completion of a 2-year program can pave the way to becoming a master herbalist, and four years of training are required to become a registered herbalist.

The American Herbalists Guild (AHG) has developed guidelines for a comprehensive herbal education. The AHG recommends 1600 hours of study, including 400 hours of hands-on clinical training. Recommended courses include anatomy and physiology, plant identification, therapeutic herbology, pathology and ethics.

Some employers were seeking the following in December 2012:

  • A pharmacy in Washington was looking for a lead natural wellness practitioner certified, licensed or experienced in herbology or another natural therapy to educate other employees about natural products and supplements. Other duties included ordering, stocking products and operating a cash register.
  • A Georgia healing arts center sought a professional herbalist, homeopath or naturopath to offer holistic services to clients. Interested parties need to have at least 300 hours of practical experience and be certified or licensed in their field.
  • A California company wanted to hire a TCM herbal research associate to research medicinal plants and herbs in order to develop natural supplements.

How to Stand Out

You can gain an edge on the competition by obtaining a professional membership in the AHG. Professional membership is the highest status offered by the AHG, and this will provide proof to clients and employers that you have achieved a level of expertise in the field of herbology and demonstrate your dedication to the profession. You cannot qualify for professional status unless you've completed four years of training and experience and are able to provide three detailed case histories and three letters of reference from other herbal medicine practitioners. Once you've fulfilled these requirements and the AHG has recognized your credentials, you can use the Registered Herbalist title.

If you have been trained in Chinese herbology, you can also make yourself stand out by becoming an NCCAOM Diplomate of Chinese Herbology. This credential requires completion of a 3-4 year master's degree program in Chinese herbology or Oriental medicine and a passing grade on multiple NCCAOM certification exams.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
      • Graduate Certificate in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant
      • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
      • Master of Public Administration - Health Care Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
      • BS in Health Care Administration
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Trauma
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Health Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Nursing
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Master: Nursing/Nurse Administrator
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
      • Bachelor: Health and Wellness
      • Bachelor: Health Science
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Assisting
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. City University of Seattle

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. Healthcare Administration
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Healthcare Administration

Featured Schools

The George Washington University

  • Graduate Certificate in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

George Mason University

  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Health Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Kaplan University

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

Which subject are you interested in?

Herzing University

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

What is your highest level of education?