What Is a Professional Herbalist?
'Professional herbalist' can be difficult to define because of the many different career paths a person can take when practicing herbal medicine. While you can work as an herbalist, you may also work in another career where you use your herbalist training. There are various options open to you if you wish to use herbal medicine and practices in a professional capacity. Schools offering Herbal Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Defining a Professional Herbalist
It's a challenge to define 'herbalist,' because many states have no legal requirements for this profession. An herbalist may be defined differently in different locations. Generally speaking, a professional herbalist is someone who uses herbal remedies to treat and care for people who pay for these services.
One part of the challenge of defining an herbalist is the fact that many herbalists don't work under the title of professional herbalist. For example, you may be a doctor who uses herbs and herbal remedies, which would mean you fall under the definition of a professional herbalist. However, you would identify yourself as a doctor.
American Herbalist Guild Membership
The American Herbalist Guild (AHG) is a professional organization for those who identify themselves as herbalists. Becoming a member of the AHG can help you network with other herbalists, stay current on happenings within the industry and find training or education resources. You may also gain certification as an herbalist to help solidify your skills in a professional capacity.
You can become an AHG member before you begin working as a professional herbalist as a general member through paying the general membership fee. For a student membership, you must be enrolled in an herbal education program and pay the discounted membership fee. Professional membership requires paying a membership fee and undergoing a review of your credentials, including education, professional experience, case study histories and letters of reference from professionals in the industry. With professional membership, you are able to use the Herbalist, AHG or Registered Herbalist designations (www.americanherbalistsguild.com).
There is no formal training standard to work as a professional herbalist. There are schools that offer certificate and degree programs in herbal medicine or related areas. If you work as a doctor or in another profession in addition to being an herbalist, you'll need to meet education and legal requirements for that profession. However, herbal medicine programs can allow you to strengthen your skills as an herbalist. You may choose to study herbal medicine, naturopathic medicine, herbal science or clinical herbalism.
Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) study herbalism, and may apply this study toward becoming Doctors of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM). The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is approved by the U.S. Department of Education, and accredits master's degree and post-master's certificate programs in Oriental medicine with concentrations in herbalism. As of October 2011, it accredited three U.S. schools with acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs.
Another career option that may include herbalism training is naturopathic doctor, although not all states recognize naturopathic doctors. In states without naturopathic doctor licensing, you may consider working in non-medical positions, such as those in research or consulting. To become a naturopathic doctor, you must attend an accredited medical school and pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination, according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (www.naturopathic.org).
In states that license naturopathic doctors, you may find medical programs in naturopathy. In other states, you may have to complete a traditional medical program and then complete additional training in naturopathy or attend an out-of-state school's Doctor of Naturopathy Medicine program. These programs typically require you to complete a residency program.
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: