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Kaiwero Ngira Hauora

Alternative titles for this job

Acupuncturists give general health advice and treat patients using therapies such as electronic and needle acupuncture, cupping, skin scraping (gua sha), the heating of acupuncture points (moxibustion) and tuina (massage).


Acupuncturists usually earn

$34K-$100K per year

Source: Acupuncture NZ, 2018.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as an acupuncturist are average due to stable numbers of people in the role.


Pay for acupuncturists varies depending on the number of hours they work and where they work. 

  • Acupuncturist graduates can expect to earn minimum wage.
  • Acupuncturists employed by a clinic can earn between minimum wage and $50,000 a year.
  • Self-employed acupuncturists with more than three years' experience can earn between $50,000 and $100,000 a year. 

Source: Acupuncture New Zealand, 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Acupuncturists may do some or all of the following:

  • consult with patients about their health, diet and exercise
  • 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), scraping, exercise therapy and laser therapy
  • keep accurate patient records
  • refer patients to other health services.

Skills and knowledge

Acupuncturists need to have knowledge of:

  • traditional Chinese medicine and its philosophy, theory and practice
  • how to diagnose illness
  • acupuncture, massage and scraping techniques
  • Western medical theories about the human body and how it functions, treatment procedures and pharmacology
  • acupuncture professional code of ethics.

Acupuncturists running their own practice will also need small business skills.

Working conditions


  • 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?

Kim Wilkins

Kim Wilkins


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."

Entry requirements

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.

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. 

Secondary education

NCEA Level 2 is required to enter the New Zealand School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine training. A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter New Zealand College of Chinese Medicine training. Useful subjects include biology, chemistry, Chinese, English and health education.

Personal requirements

Acupuncturists need to be:

  • patient and accurate
  • empathetic
  • clean and tidy 
  • observant and responsible
  • good communicators
  • good at problem solving
  • well organised
  • able to inspire confidence in others.

Useful experience

Useful experience for acupuncturists includes:

  • work in traditional Chinese medicine or naturopathy
  • work in the health sector
  • counselling work.

Physical requirements

Acupuncturists need to be 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).

Find out more about training

NZ College of Chinese Medicine 
0800 888 518 - enrolment@chinesemedicine.ac.nz - www.chinesemedicine.ac.nz
NZ School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (NZSATCM)
- Auckland Campus
(09) 630 3546 - admin@nzsao.com - www.acupuncture.ac.nz
- Wellington Campus
(04) 473 9005 - admin@nzsao.com - www.acupuncture.ac.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Numbers of acupuncturists steady, but may increase

Demand for acupuncturists has been steady but may start to grow. This is due to ACC funding more visits to acupuncturists and the growing acceptance of Chinese medicine.

According to Acupuncture New Zealand there are around 1000 acupuncturists in New Zealand.

Acupuncturists make own opportunities

Most acupuncturists are self-employed, so how much work you get depends on your ability to find clients.

Opportunities are best for acupuncturists who can promote their business well and find clients through agencies like ACC.

Most acupuncturists self-employed

Most acupuncturists are self-employed, but some work for:

  • acupuncture schools
  • hospitals and public medical practices
  • private medical practices.


  • Acupuncture NZ website, accessed October 2018, (www.acupuncture.org.nz).
  • Haiselden, L, registrar, Acupuncture New Zealand, careers.govt.nz interview, October 2018.
  • Nicol, R, 'Acupuncture may Become a Mainstream Treatment for Period and Endometriosis Pain', 15 September 2018, (www.noted.co.nz).
  • Ryan, D J, 'Acupuncture, ACC and the Medicines Act', 1 December 2017, (www.nzma.org.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Acupuncturists may move into training, research or education roles.

Acupuncturists may specialise in:

  • sports injuries
  • fertility and pregnancy
  • aged care
  • cancer.


An acupuncturist uses a suction cup to remove glass cupping globes from a client's back.

Acupuncturists may perform cupping on their clients

Last updated 26 October 2018