Master Herbalist: Salary and Career Facts

Herbalists consult with individuals about their health concerns and suggest plant-based treatments instead of traditional medications. Keep reading to learn more about formal training programs and courses of study, as well as potential earnings. Schools offering Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Master Herbalist Do?

The term 'master herbalist' seems to be less common than in the past and is being replaced with simply 'herbalist'. As an herbalist, you would work to help people to improve their overall health and prevent disease using herbs. Different practitioners may use a different set of herbs, such as local, Chinese, Tibetan or Indian. Your goal to help clients achieve good health through a holistic approach would be the same no matter which kinds of herbs you work with.

In addition to using medicinal plants, you would also use current scientific knowledge about plants and their chemical properties. You would know how to use just one part of a plant (e.g., root, leaves, flowers, berries, bark) or a combination of more than one part. This would give you a range of naturally occurring chemicals, which is thought to be a more balanced approach.

What Types of Education Programs Are Available?

Master herbalist degree programs are available, but they're not usually accredited. However, some master herbalist diploma programs are accredited and available through the U.S. Although rare, you may also find a bachelor's degree in herbal sciences, a master's degree in herbal medicine and a doctorate in acupuncture and oriental medicine.

Most herbal programs are part of another alternative medicine program such as acupuncture. There may even be a full track in Chinese herbal studies or Chinese herbal medicine. Some master's degree programs in oriental medicine, acupuncture and oriental medicine offer coursework in herbs.

What Will I Study?

The type of certificate or degree you choose to pursue will determine which courses you will take. Some programs have a number of courses to introduce you to a variety of alternative medicine approaches such as massage and reflexology, acupuncture, naturopathy, Ayurvedic medicine and chiropractic. Almost all programs require a course in anatomy and physiology as well as one or many courses in organic chemistry, biochemistry or phytochemistry. Common courses specific to herbs include introductions to herbal medicine or Chinese herbal medicine, pharmacognosy, herbal preparations and drug/herb interactions.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

There are few statistics relative to salaries for herbalists. PayScale.com reported that the middle half of herbalists earned between $20,801 and $55,000 annually as of February 2011. As in all careers, pay is partly related to experience. The salary website also noted that 86% of all herbalists had 1-4 years of experience, so it's likely that few earn salaries in the upper figures of the range.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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