Why Study Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture? – Career Options & Income
Updated: Jun 22
So what the market is ripe for the picking -what income will I earn as an Acupuncturist or Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner? Before we answer how much one can make in this profession, first let’s understand one’s career options in the profession as these will have ramifications for one’s income in the profession.
In general, Acupuncturists and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners can work in existing mixed modality health, wellness, or rehabilitation centres (these establishments have a mixture of medical services spanning the medical spectrum from contemporary to complementary and alternative medicine), Traditional Chinese Medicine-dedicated clinics (which only employ Acupuncturists or Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners), and/or spas. Alternatively, one may also establish one’s own clinic; be it at home (assuming your property is appropriately zoned for a home business to be legal), at a commercial space, and/or as a mobile service. Note, however, that if you happen to be starting off and you are entertaining establishing your own practice whilst also working at an existing clinic, this is likely a conflict of interest and the owners would probably suspect that you are drawing their clients away from their business and towards yours. For reasons expanded on below, Acupuncturists can also gain employment in select Ontario hospitals.
Given that Acupuncture is often a service that is covered under certain health insurance plans, acupuncturists, as opposed to Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners, have wider career options. For instance, as mentioned earlier in this blog series, some Ontario hospitals have acupuncture clinics. These clinics do not offer herbs. So too, you may stumble upon certain health, wellness, or rehabilitation centres, and spas whose owners only hire acupuncturists. Their mentality is either one of the following:
Since acupuncture is the most common service known within Traditional Chinese Medicine, and since it is a service that is covered under most health benefit plans, marketing any component of an herbal practice will only interest a fringe sub-population; so, just stick to offering acupuncture and this maximizes clientele potential; or
The owner of the clinic or establishment in question wants to keep to a certain public image. For instance, spas conjure images of massage and acupuncture – not herbal treatments (unless they are being applied as facials). Other owners may not trust in the scientific literature concerning herbal treatments and, therefore, take the stance against this service being offered at their clinic.
Now, how does where you work impact income? Well, in general, if you opt to open your own clinic, 100% of the money paid per treatment goes to your business; whereas, if you work at someone else’s establishment, you are likely to enter into a negotiated agreement with the establishment’s owner whereby a percentage of the money paid for each treatment goes to the establishment’s owner and the remainder goes to your business. Alternatively, some existing clinics take all of the pay and, instead, provide practitioners with salaries or a fixed pay per patient seen. Though the ceiling of one’s income in the profession appears to clearly be higher when operating one’s own clinic, this option obviously comes with additional costs that one is protected against when operating within an existing establishment. Note, nothing is to stop you from not only running your own clinic but also expanding this practice such that you make income off of the patient book of other practitioners operating within your establishment.
With this general understanding of how one’s clinical practice impacts one’s income, we can now turn to answering the BIG question: “what income will I earn as an Acupuncturist or Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner”? The regulating college of these professions in Ontario, The College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO), stipulates that one cannot overcharge for one’s services and that treatment fees should be aligned with geographical trends. Consequently, if one city in Ontario sees TCM clinics charge north of $100 per 1 hour acupuncture treatment, it would be acceptable for any new clinics in that area to charge likewise (rather than opting to charge $200 per treatment for the same duration of treatment). So the best answer to the question of income really comes down to 3 factors:
Your cost to do business (dictated by whether you own your own clinic or not; if you own your own clinic, do you work from home or rent commercial space; if you want to expand your own clinic ensure that your rental space can accommodate sufficient treatment rooms), and
How much you make per treatment (dictated by whether you own your own clinic or not, and the average treatment fees in the area in which you intend to practice).
How many treatments are performed daily or annually per practitioner. If you expand your own clinic, how many practitioners will you have and how many patients will they see?
Rather than using websites like this one to estimate your income in these professions, we highly encourage you to model various scenarios that (1) you believe to be likely realities for the geographical area in which you intend to practice and (2) that are aligned with your aptitude of entrepreneurialism. A word of caution: when developing such models, do understand that if you decide to open your own clinic, it takes time to grow your patient book and to fill your calendar with appointments. This is to say that we encourage you to speak with current industry professionals and interview them on how long it took for them to get to the number of appointments that they process daily – even how many appointments they get on average per day! Model your growth year over year given all of the variables that we have illustrated in this very post which directly impact your income in this profession.
CONTINUE READING: WHY STUDY TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM) AND ACUPUNCTURE?