Getting to the point? Careers in acupuncture If you have an interest in medicine and a steady hand, a career in acupuncture may appeal. Sue Kelbrick found out more.
What does a career as an acupuncturist involve? Acupuncturists use an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine to help relieve all kinds of conditions including arthritis, muscle or joint problems, chronic back ache, circulatory problems and headaches.
The treatment involves inserting very fine needles into key pressure points on the body, with the aim of stimulating these pressure points to regulate the body's healing process and restore health and energy.
What skills are needed? To become an acupuncturist, you need to have a keen interest in complementary therapies and biological sciences as well as good communication and listening skills. And most important of all, a steady hand!
What training do you need? To work as an acupuncturist you need to take an in-depth training course which generally takes around three years full-time or the part-time equivalent.
Acupuncturists are currently unregulated, though there are ongoing efforts to bring in measures so that acupuncturists have to be registered. It is worth checking regularly with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council.
It is best to work towards membership of a professional body such as the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) or The Acupuncture Society.
The British Acupuncture Accreditation Board (BAAB) is an independent accreditation body and has approved a number of courses that lead to membership of the BAAB. To do an approved course you generally need at least five GCSEs including a science subject and two A levels. Mature students may be considered on the basis of their work experience.
What are the opportunities for career progression? There are more than 3,000 acupuncturists registered with the BAcC. Most opportunities are for self-employed acupuncturists working from home or within a complementary or holistic therapy centre. There is some part-time work available in the NHS working with specialist nurses and physiotherapists to provide pain management services.
You might choose to specialise in a particular technique or focus on a specific client group such as children or cancer sufferers.
What is the salary? (Guideline only) Full-time acupuncturists can earn between PS18,000 and PS35,000 a year.
More information ? BAcC, tel 020 8735 0400, www.acupuncture.org.uk ? The Acupuncture Society, www.acupuncturesociety.org.uk ? Details for information only. Jobs not necessarily available.