Approximately 4 out of 10 people in the United States are already using some form of alternative health treatment, and all indicators point to continued growth in the holistic health industry.
As more people step outside the limitations of conventional medicine in search of whole body wellness, the opportunity to enjoy a satisfying career in holistic health looks brighter with each passing year.
Here are some of the most popular holistic health career opportunities:
Acupuncture's ancient healing technique uses slender needles to gently remove blockages in the body's energy system, promoting balance and holistic health. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of disease, from headaches to addiction. Because most acupuncturists are self-employed, incomes vary widely. According to Acupuncturistsalary.org the average annual salary for acupuncturists is $55,250.
Ayurveda is a complete holistic health system that developed in India, where it has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Ayurvedic treatments seek to balance mind, body and spirit, offering individualized recommendations based on each person's unique constitution. Healing therapies used in Ayurveda include diet, herbs, aromatherapy, color therapy, sound therapy and touch therapy. Skilled Ayurvedic practitioners can earn between $30,000 and $50,000 annually.
Biofeedback is a tool for teaching patients how to use the power of their minds to manage chronic or stress-induced pain, such as migraines and muscle spasms. It can be a powerful alternative to pain medications. The basic practice uses machines to help patients become more aware of biological processes such as their brainwaves and heart rate, so they can learn to manipulate these processes without the equipment. Biofeedback is typically used in health care settings by licensed medical professionals, but it can also work well in a natural medicine setting. Certified Biofeedback Therapists earn a median salary of $57,000 a year.
Diet therapy views food as a source of healing. Practitioners provide customized dietary suggestions to help their patients improve immunity, lose weight or fight illnesses such as cancer and allergies. Diet therapists may be trained in a holistic health tradition such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, or they may come from a more mainstream background as nutritionists or dietitians. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual salary for dietitians and nutritionists is $55,240.*
Energy healing is a general term for any type of healing that seeks to balance, restore or manipulate the energy systems of the human body. Examples of energy healing include Reiki, polarity therapy, pranic healing and therapeutic touch. Many energy healers practice only part-time or combine their energy healing technique with other forms of holistic health treatment, thus incomes vary widely. For example, the annual salary of a Reiki therapist can be anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 before expenses.
Guided imagery is a holistic health technique for training the mind to concentrate on specific images or symbols in order to achieve a physical, emotional or spiritual goal. It can be used as alternative or complementary medical treatment. Many people are familiar with the example of cancer patients visualizing their cancer cells being blown up or destroyed. Guided imagery is a popular treatment that is typically offered by health care professionals with specialized certifications. Practitioner salaries vary based on individual licenses and qualifications.
Hypnotherapy has been used in a variety of holistic health applications, including weight loss and pain management. It has been used to dramatically reduce the pain of childbirth, as well as relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel symptom and treating skin diseases such as psoriasis and warts. Hypnotherapists can also help clients quit smoking or reduce stress. According to the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists, the average monthly pay after expenses and taxes is $2,000 – $2,500.
Massage therapy, the leading form of holistic health treatment, has grown dramatically in popularity since the 1980s. Drawing on a wide range of techniques from acupressure to Thai massage, massage therapists use the power of touch to help their clients attain deep relaxation and healing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for massage therapists is $35,970.*
Kinesiology or movement therapies
Kinesiology applies the study of muscles and movement as an evaluation and treatment tool in a clinical setting. There are more than 80 different types of kinesiologists. Most use some form of "muscle testing" to pinpoint health problems and determine the best treatment option. Holistic health treatments used by kinesiologists may include bodywork, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, homeopathic products and energy work. Diet, sleep or exercise recommendations may also be offered. Earnings from the practice of kinesiology are difficult to assess because most practitioners are already established as chiropractors, medical doctors or other health care providers.
Qi Gong is a Chinese meditative practice that combines controlled breathing and slow deliberate movements to promote the circulation of vital energies in the body. Practitioners experience stress relief, pain reduction, and improvements in overall health and longevity. Master Qi Gong practitioners can enjoy successful holistic health careers teaching and writing about the various techniques and forms of qigong.
From big cities to small towns, yoga is now a mainstream practice for physical fitness and relaxation. Those who seek the deeper benefits of yoga will also discover a wealth of ancient holistic health recommendations, including breathing exercises, dietary recommendations and meditation techniques. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for fitness trainers and instructors is $31,720.*
Holistic skin care or esthetics
Estheticians and holistic skin care specialists who specialize in holistic skin care administer facial and body treatments that feature natural ingredients, such as herbs, minerals and essential oils. They may also offer microdermabrasian, chemical peels and other beauty treatments. As a holistic health practitioner, an esthetician can help treat skin conditions such as sun damage and acne. By increasing the health and vitality of the skin, the body's largest organ, holistic estheticians can also decrease bodily aches and pains and improve emotional wellbeing.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for skincare specialists is $28,640.*
Clearly there are many ways to make a great living as a holistic health practitioner. Not only can you earn a good income, you can also enjoy the deeper benefits of making a difference in the lives of others. When you join the wellness industry, you become part of an ever-growing movement to create a healthier, more balanced focus in society.
*Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.