California Acupuncture Careers

In the U.S., acupuncture is used to control pain and relieve symptoms of disease. This technique involves inserting needles at specific locations called “acupoints” to restore balance and a healthy energy flow to the body. When administered by a skilled acupuncturist, acupuncture causes virtually no pain. While acupuncture has become popular throughout the U.S. over the past 20 years, more than 50 percent of the nation’s licensed acupuncturists practice in New York or California.

Acupuncture Education and Training Programs

In order to practice acupuncture in most states, aspiring acupuncturists must complete an accredited master’s program in Acupuncture or Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. In some states, such as California, a “Board-approved” program will satisfy the education requirement.

An accredited or Board-approved acupuncture training program typically lasts 3 to 4 years and it prepares students for the national certification exam. Students must pass this exam to become eligible for state licensure in virtually every state that regulates the practice of acupuncture. This includes the State of California. The exam is administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

An eligible acupuncture training program typically requires coursework in areas ranging from biology, physics, and anatomy to traditional Oriental  medicine, acupuncture anatomy, acupuncture techniques, acupressure, and ethics in acupuncture. Tuition usually ranges from $30,000 to $40,000 for the entire program.

Acupuncture Schools and Training Programs in California

California is home to more accredited acupuncture training programs than any other state. The California Department of Consumer Affairs' Acupuncture Board currently lists 36 training programs approved by the Board, with 21 located throughout the State of California.

Academy of Chinese Culture & Health Sciences, Oakland, CA
Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Alhambra Medical University, Alhambra, CA
American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, San Francisco, CA
California Trinity University, Los Angeles, CA
Dongguk Royal University, Los Angeles, CA
Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine, Santa Monica, CA
Five Branches University, Santa Cruz, CA
Five Branches University, San Jose, CA
Golden State University, Downey, CA
Kingston University, Norwalk, CA
Nine Star University of Health Sciences, Sunnyvale, CA
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, San Diego, CA
Samra University of Oriental Medicine, Los Angeles, CA*
South Baylo University, Anaheim, CA
Southern California University of Health Sciences, Whittier, CA
Southern California University Rhijne College of Medicine & Acupuncture, Gardena, CA
Southern California University School of Oriental Medicine & Acupuncture, Los Angeles, CA
Stanton University, Garden Grove, CA
St. Luke University, Pomona, CA
University of East-West Medicine, Sunnyvale, CA
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles, CA

*Samra University of Oriental Medicine is not approved by California’s Acupuncture Board. However, this school is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Employment and Earnings Outlook for California Acupuncturists

The number of licensed acupuncturists nearly tripled between 1992 and 2000, from just 5,525 to 14,228. Today, the U.S. is home to nearly 20,000 licensed acupuncturists. Because many licensed acupuncturists live in the State of California, seven metropolitan areas here offer the most employment opportunities. They are:

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
Napa, CA
Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA

At 360,000, California is home to the largest number of healthcare support  workers in the U.S., up from 350,910 in 2008. They average $32,090 per year, up from $29,710 in 2008. Acupuncturists belong to a group of more than 3.9 million healthcare support workers nationwide, earning an average of $27,780 per year, up from $26,340 in 2008.

Acupuncturists have the potential to earn more than most other healthcare support occupations because many are self-employed or have their own practice. Self-employed acupuncturists typically charge $40 to $70 per session and a private practice can bring in $100,000 to $300,000 a year or more. In addition, acupuncturists that work in a group practice or hospital have the potential to earn between $45,000 and $100,000+ per year.