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Career profile Acupuncturist

Also known as Acupuncture Physician, Acupuncture Provider, Acupuncturist, Chinese Medical Doctor, Herbalist, Licensed Acupuncturist (LAC), Oriental Medicine Provider, Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner


Also known as Acupuncture Physician, Acupuncture Provider, Acupuncturist

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Realistic
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$43,200 - $160,990 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking
  • Social Perceptiveness
Knowledge Areas
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Therapy and Counseling
Core tasks
  • Develop individual treatment plans and strategies.
  • Adhere to local, state, and federal laws, regulations, and statutes.
  • Insert needles to provide acupuncture treatment.
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What does an Acupuncturist do?

Acupuncturists diagnose, treat, and prevent disorders by stimulating specific acupuncture points within the body using acupuncture needles.

In addition, Acupuncturists may also use cups, nutritional supplements, therapeutic massage, acupressure, and other alternative health therapies.

What kind of tasks does an Acupuncturist perform regularly?

Acupuncturists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Develop individual treatment plans and strategies.
  • Adhere to local, state, and federal laws, regulations, and statutes.
  • Insert needles to provide acupuncture treatment.
  • Identify correct anatomical and proportional point locations based on patients' anatomy and positions, contraindications, and precautions related to treatments, such as intradermal needles, moxibustion, electricity, guasha, or bleeding.
  • Collect medical histories and general health and lifestyle information from patients.
  • Treat patients using tools, such as needles, cups, ear balls, seeds, pellets, or nutritional supplements.
  • Analyze physical findings and medical histories to make diagnoses according to Oriental medicine traditions.
  • Maintain and follow standard quality, safety, environmental, and infection control policies and procedures.
  • Educate patients on topics, such as meditation, ergonomics, stretching, exercise, nutrition, the healing process, breathing, or relaxation techniques.
  • Dispense herbal formulas and inform patients of dosages and frequencies, treatment duration, possible side effects, and drug interactions.
  • Maintain detailed and complete records of health care plans and prognoses.
  • Assess patients' general physical appearance to make diagnoses.
  • Formulate herbal preparations to treat conditions considering herbal properties, such as taste, toxicity, effects of preparation, contraindications, and incompatibilities.
  • Apply heat or cold therapy to patients using materials, such as heat pads, hydrocollator packs, warm compresses, cold compresses, heat lamps, or vapor coolants.
  • Consider Western medical procedures in health assessment, health care team communication, and care referrals.
  • Evaluate treatment outcomes and recommend new or altered treatments as necessary to further promote, restore, or maintain health.
  • Treat medical conditions, using techniques such as acupressure, shiatsu, or tuina.
  • Apply moxibustion directly or indirectly to patients using Chinese, non-scarring, stick, or pole moxa.

The above responsibilities are specific to Acupuncturists. More generally, Acupuncturists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

What is an Acupuncturist salary?

The median salary for an Acupuncturist is $82,420, and the average salary is $97,270. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Acupuncturist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Acupuncturists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Acupuncturists earn less than $43,200 per year, 25% earn less than $60,680, 75% earn less than $126,070, and 90% earn less than $160,990.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Acupuncturists is expected to change by 4.7%, and there should be roughly 3,600 open positions for Acupuncturists every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$43,200 - $160,990
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Acupuncturists?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Acupuncturist are usually higher in their Social, Realistic, and Investigative interests.

Acupuncturists typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Acupuncturists typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Acupuncturists typically have strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Acupuncturist tend to value Achievement, Relationships, and Independence.

Most importantly, Acupuncturists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Acupuncturists strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Acupuncturists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Acupuncturists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, dependability, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Acupuncturists, ranked by importance:

Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

What education and training do Acupuncturists need?

Many Acupuncturists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Acupuncturists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Acupuncturists

  • 1.3% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 2.0% completed high school or secondary school
  • 8.6% completed some college coursework
  • 2.8% earned a Associate's degree
  • 18.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 39.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 27.6% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Acupuncturists

Acupuncturists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as medicine and dentistry, customer and personal service, or therapy and counseling knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Acupuncturists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Therapy and Counseling
Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Sales and Marketing
Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.

Important Abilities needed by Acupuncturists

Acupuncturists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Acupuncturists need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Acupuncturists, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Critical Skills needed by Acupuncturists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Acupuncturists frequently use skills like active listening, critical thinking, and social perceptiveness to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Acupuncturists, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.