If Tai Chi, reiki, massage therapy, acupuncture, or aromatherapy appeal to your senses more than the traditional tenets of Western medicine, a career in alternative medicine may be the path for you. Even the methods of education are non-traditional, educating students in areas like metaphysics, yoga, or hypnosis, to name a few.
There is good news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): projections for occupations in health care are very strong. In 2006, the health care industry provided 14 million jobs (both for wage/salary workers and the self-employed), making it the largest industry in the marketplace. The BLS also suggests that seven out of the 20 occupations that experience the most rapid growth are health-care related. Finally, between 2006 and 2016, three million new jobs will come from the health care industry.
With an increasing emphasis on rapidly rising health care costs, and subsequently cost control, alternative medicine therapies are more sought after by consumers and more widely accepted as valid treatments by professionals in the medical model. Even insurance companies are processing more claims for these treatments.
According to the BLS, approximately two in five jobs in the industry segment that encompasses alternative medicine careers are professional/related occupations. Health care practitioners, in addition to technical occupations and office and administrative support occupations, accounted for a considerable share of all jobs, namely 34 percent and 32 percent, respectively.
Alternative Medicine Careers Evaluate the “Whole" Person
Based on statistics from the BLS, those employed in the segment of industry categorized as “offices of other health practitioners” numbered 571,000 in 2006, with an estimated percent change from 2006 to 2016 at a robust 28.3 percent. Average weekly earnings came to about $498, at a rate of $17.27 hourly with the total number of hours worked at 28.8. These numbers will vary greatly depending on such factors as whether the health care practitioner is self-employed or how great the demand for alternative therapies may be in their area of practice.
The approach among those employed in alternative medicine careers is very different from methods applied in conventional health care. One main difference is the use of herbs and botanicals rather than pharmaceuticals and prescriptions. Professionals who pursue alternative medicine careers take a holistic approach to diagnosing and curing illness and will consider the whole person’s health, rather than focusing on symptoms only. While you may not need a doctorate, professionals seeking a career in alternative medicine must pursue some form of higher education; it’s also likely that certification exams must be completed in order to achieve a license to practice.
Choose the field that most interests you and start exploring higher education institutions in that area. Whether you choose acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, or massage therapy, an alternative medicine career allows practicing professionals to treat the cause of health problems in a way that considers the whole person and seeks long-term optimal health as its primary goal.
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