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Summary of occupation

Acupuncturists diagnose and treat disorders and illnesses by stimulating the body’s defence mechanisms.  This is done by inserting fine needles into the skin. Acupuncturists diagnose illness by checking a patient’s pulse, skin colour, nails, tongue and temperature in different parts of the body.  Needles are then inserted into areas of the body, and manipulated, during treatment – heat and massage are also used.

ANZSCO description: Treats disorders and illnesses by stimulating  the body's defence mechanisms through inserting fine needles into the skin. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names:
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An acupuncturist needs:

  • to be compassionate
  • to be patient and tactful
  • to be good with their hands
  • to be able to gain the confidence of their patients.
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Working conditions

Acupuncturists are usually self-employed and work alone. However, they may work in a practice where other natural therapy health workers also work.

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Salary details

On average, acupuncturists, classified under complementary health therapists, can expect to earn between $800 and $999 per week ($41 600 and $51 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an acupuncturist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase. 

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Tools and technologies

Acupuncturists need to have a good understanding of the human body. They use acupuncture needles as part of their treatment.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an acupuncturist, you usually have to complete a degree in health science with a major in acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine. Endeavour College of Natural Health offers a four  year Bachelor of Health Science (Acupuncture). There are also suitable courses offered interstate. 

To work as an acupuncturist in Western Australia, you must be registered with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia. Members are required to obtain a degree to practise acupuncture.​

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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