Training To Be An Acupuncturist

students on an acupuncture courseHaving evolved over thousands of years, acupuncture remains a prominent choice of healthcare for millions of people around the world.

The practice of acupuncture is a sub-discipline of Chinese medicine. Many Chinese medicine doctors will often use a combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture. However, acupuncturists will first and foremost only use acupuncture to treat their patients unless they have also been trained in herbs and other techniques.

Acupuncture first came to the West almost a century ago. However, it’s popularity didn’t start to take off until it became more frequently used in the 70’s and 80’s. Around this time various schools of acupuncture began to crop up across Europe and the United States, and the practice has continued to grow in popularity ever since steadily.

Fortunately, over the more recent years, Western science has been able to prove the effectiveness of acupuncture for certain conditions. However, there is still much of acupuncture’s practice that can’t be explained or proven by modern science as of yet. With the development of new models and methods of testing perhaps more aspects of acupuncture will begin to show it’s relevance from a scientific standpoint.

Studying Acupuncture In The West

Many people are drawn to the study of acupuncture due to its mystical appearance and its philosophical approaches to health. The practice is still very much based on ancient concepts such as the five elements, yin yang and the meridian theory (Jing Luo). However, modern practitioners also need to have a firm understanding of the Western view of anatomy and pathology.

Many independent colleges and Universities alike are now offering acupuncture training to help satisfy the demand. For example, the acupuncture courses with the University of Greenwich provide full time or part time training and provide their students with a degree certificate.

What To Look For In A course

a university libraryWhen looking for an acupuncture course, it can be difficult for the lay-person to know exactly what to look for in a course and what may suit them best. Taking a little time to delve into the subject of acupuncture, what is involved in the study and what the differences are between the different training colleges out there can be a time and hassle saver further down the line.


Firstly, a big consideration for most people is what kind of qualification they will have at the end of the course. Acupuncture courses are usually either a Degree or a Diploma course. A Degree tends to have a more prestigious standing than the Diploma, and there is usually an increased level of academic work as well as the practical learning when completing a Degree course. As such, students are also required to complete a dissertation in their final year.

However, on the flip side, a Diploma course can often be a bit shorter in duration, which means you could be practising more quickly.

This article explains more about the differences between a Degree and a Diploma.

Course Structure

Some courses will have a greater emphasis on practical application, whereas others will teach more theory and less practical. It is ideal to get a happy medium between the two as both are equally as important. If an acupuncture college has an on-site teaching clinic, then that is a good sign that the course will be able to provide you with a decent amount of practical training and clinical observation.

Styles of Acupuncture


Unless you have looked into the practice of acupuncture you many not be aware that there are several different styles of acupuncture. The most well-known style is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Many people assume TCM to be the original form of acupuncture due to the use of the word ‘traditional’. However, TCM only emerged in the 1950’s due to the cultural revolution that took place in China. The origins of acupuncture stem from what is known as Classical acupuncture.

Five Elements

Another popular style of acupuncture is Five Elements. This practice is also more Classical in nature and bases it’s use and theory of the concept of the five elements.

Classical Acupuncture

Classical acupuncture is based on the classics of Chinese medicine, which are the oldest known texts on the practice of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Classical acupuncture is the original style of the practice, from which all other styles have emerged.

Qualifications To Begin A Course

Most of the acupuncture colleges have varying degrees of entry requirements before being admitted to the course. Typically, you will need either A level qualifications with at least one science A-level or 5 GCSEs of at least a grade C and above.