Thinking Outside the Box: 4 Alternative Medicine Careers to Consider
Do you want to get into healthcare, but aren't enthused about medical school? Alternative medicine careers let you enter the healthcare field in a more non-traditional route. Check out some of your options below.
Alternative medicine refers to therapies, treatments, or diagnostic disciplines used alongside conventional medicine.
Despite the wording making it seem like alternative medicine isn’t practiced conventionally, almost 40 percent of adults use some sort of complementary and alternative medicine as a treatment, medicinal practice, or therapy.
If you’re thinking of going into the healthcare field and are considering alternative medicine careers, keep reading. We’re going over 4 of the most popular alternative medicine careers available to you including their average salary, required schooling, and other qualifications you’ll need.
Chiropractic medicine is probably the most mainstream career on this list. Chiropractors care for patients with musculoskeletal issues including:
Chiropractors must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. This is a 4-year degree similar to an MD. However, a chiropractic degree is focused on:
-Specific chiropractic techniques
Common treatments include:
Many chiropractors are self-employed and open their own practices. However, chiropractic care is becoming more widely accepted and used. More opportunities are popping up with jobs looking to grow 7 percent in the next 10 years (which is faster than the national average).
Herbalists (also known as herbal practitioners) are medical professionals trained in herbal medicine. Herbal medicine uses herbs, plants, and the study of botany in order to treat illness, injuries, pain, and more.
Western medicine considers herbalists to be alternative medicine practitioners. However, herbal medicine and herbalism practices have been in use for thousands of years. That's much longer than our current “conventional” medicine has been around.
Today, about 80 percent of the world population still uses herbal medicine as a key part of their healthcare.
Herbalists use various types of plants, seeds, roots, bark, herbs, and other botanicals for medicinal purposes. This includes supplementation, treating injuries/illness, and for prevention. Herbalists must be licensed, which requires schooling and clinical work.
You can also further specialize into manufacturing supplements, growing herbs/plants for herbalism practices, and becoming a teacher. Many herbalists also have four-year degrees in STEM subjects, botany, traditional medicine, or plant studies. Average salary ranges from $46,000 to $69,000.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest medicinal practices. It’s thought to have originated in China in 100 BC. It didn’t reach the west until the 17th century with the first recorded practice in Europe in 1810.
Acupuncture uses very small and thin needles that are used to puncture the skin at specific points. It’s believed that these specific points or areas when stimulated with acupuncture needles can allow your body’s energy to flow properly. This is thought to release tension, relieve pain, and even help treat a variety of illnesses & conditions.
Many studies support the idea of acupuncture relieving pain. Not much scientific evidence exists to support other claims. However, there’s a lot of personal evidence that acupuncture treated illness, condition, and symptoms of a variety of complaints.
To become a professional acupuncturist, you’ll need to complete an accredited acupuncturist program.
Once that’s complete, you’ll need to pass a state licensing exam. The average salary for an acupuncturist varies based on the state you live in, but it tends to range between $74,000 and $80,000.
4. Massage Therapist
Are you surprised to see “massage therapist” on this list of alternative medicine careers? Not that many people realize that massage therapy is more than something to treat yourself with after a long week of work.
It’s actually considered a type of alternative medicine. In fact, many insurance companies cover massage therapy for a variety of ailments and injuries.
Massage ranges in applications. There are massage therapists that specifically work in salons and parlors. Medical massage therapists are also employed by workplaces, hospitals, doctors offices, and chiropractors.
Massage has many proven health benefits, including:
Massage therapists make a median salary of $51,000.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Scott Rosner is a certified chiropractic physician. He owns and operates a Weymouth chiropractic clinic called Weymouth Chiropractic and Wellness Center.