Kaiwero Ngira Hauora
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Acupuncturists treat patients using therapies such as needle acupuncture, the heating of acupuncture points (moxibustion) and tuina (massage).
Acupuncturists usually earn
$33K-$100K per year
Source: Acupuncture NZ; NZ School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Pay for acupuncturists varies depending on the number of hours they work in a week. Most are self-employed and charge an hourly rate, but are increasingly employed by multi-disciplinary clinics.
- New acupuncture graduates employed by a clinic can earn between $33,000 and $40,000 a year.
- Self-employed acupuncturists usually charge between $60 and $120 per hour, depending on experience and location.
Overall, acupuncturists usually earn an average of $33,000 a year, as a third only work part time.
Sources: Acupuncture New Zealand; New Zealand School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine; Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2012-2015 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2016.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Acupuncturists may do some or all of the following:
- consult with patients about their health
- examine patients and diagnose health problems using the principles of traditional Chinese medicine
- discuss treatment options with patients
- locate acupuncture points and insert acupuncture needles
- use and prescribe herbal medicines to treat patients
- give dietary advice, tuina (massage), moxibustion (heat), cupping (suction), exercise therapy and laser therapy
- keep accurate patient records
- refer patients to other health services when necessary.
Skills and knowledge
Acupuncturists need to have:
- knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine and its philosophy, theory and practice
- skill in diagnosing illness and practising acupuncture
- knowledge of Western medical theories about the human body and how it functions, treatment procedures and pharmacology
- knowledge and understanding of a professional code of ethics.
Those running their own practice will also need small business skills.
- vary their working hours to suit patient demand, which may involve working evenings and weekends
- work in private clinics, community health centres, sports institutes or from their own homes
- may occasionally travel to visit patients in their homes.
What's the job really like?
More to acupuncture than just needles
"The needle is just a tool. You're focused on what's happening to someone's body in that moment, and thinking about how you're going to achieve the best results with them.
"Acupuncture is a science and an art that's rolled into one. It's a rewarding road to travel down and the added bonus is that you get to help people along the way."
Helping people to help themselves
"A lot of the time when people come in, they don't want to hear about whether they're eating or drinking the wrong things, or if they have bad posture. They just want to be fixed in a kind of passive way. If they're not prepared to put the effort in themselves to make changes, it can be difficult to get results, so a big part of acupuncture is about working with a patient by advising them on ways they can help themselves get better."
To become an acupuncturist you need to have a Bachelor of Health Science (Level 7) in either acupuncture or Chinese medicine. This degree is available from:
- New Zealand School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
- New Zealand College of Chinese Medicine
- New Zealand School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine website - information on Bachelor of Health Science (Acupuncture) degree
- New Zealand College of Chinese Medicine website - information on Bachelor of Health Science degrees
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.
NCEA Level 2 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include biology, chemistry, English and Chinese.
Acupuncturists need to be:
- patient and accurate
- observant and responsible
- good communicators
- good at problem-solving
- well organised
- able to inspire confidence in others.
Useful experience for acupuncturists includes:
- work in traditional Chinese medicine
- work in the health sector
- counselling work.
Experience living or studying in an Eastern culture and learning about Eastern philosophy is also useful. Many acupuncture students have a background in martial arts.
Acupuncturists need to be reasonably healthy and have good upper arm strength for massage.
Acupuncturists may choose to be registered with one of the following:
- Acupuncture New Zealand
- New Zealand Acupuncture Standards Authority (NZASA).
- Acupuncture New Zealand website - information on how to join the New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists
- New Zealand Acupuncture Standards Authority website - information on registration
Find out more about training
- NZ College of Chinese Medicine
- (09) 580 2376 - email@example.com - www.chinesemedicine.ac.nz
- NZ School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (NZSATCM)
- - Auckland Campus
- (09) 630 3546 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.acupuncture.ac.nz
- - Wellington Campus
- (04) 473 9005 - email@example.com - www.acupuncture.ac.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
A third of acupuncturists only work part time, which means it may be difficult to find full-time work if you are newly qualified, either as an employee or through self-employment.
Demand for experienced acupuncturists reasonably strong
Demand for experienced acupuncturists is reasonably strong because:
- there is a growing acceptance and awareness of the benefits of natural health therapies, including acupuncture
- an increasing migrant population have had previous exposure to acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine
- an ageing population is increasingly using acupuncture to treat or prevent age-related illnesses
- ACC will pay for registered acupuncturists to treat accident-related injuries.
Most acupuncturists self-employed
Most acupuncturists are self-employed, but some work for:
- schools or teaching institutions as teachers or community educators training other acupuncturists
- hospitals and public medical practices
- private medical practices.
- Acupuncture New Zealand, 'One Step Closer to Registration Under the HPCA Act', 28 October 2015, (www.acupuncture.org.nz).
- Clayton, R, 'ACC Paid Out $163 million on Alternative Therapies and Physiotherapy in 2015', 29 April 2016, (www.stuff.co.nz).
- Lawton, K, registrar, New Zealand Acupuncture Standards Authority, Careers New Zealand interview, September 2016, (www.nzasa.org).
- McBride, P, president, Acupuncture New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, December 2014, (www.acupuncture.org.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Acupuncturists may choose to specialise in specific health areas, such as:
- musculo-skeletal/sports injuries
- fertility and pregnancy
- aged care
- patients affected by cancer.
Acupuncturists may also:
- teach acupuncture
- establish their own practices
- work as sales representatives or consultants for natural health medicine and equipment companies
- move into research.
Last updated 12 August 2017