California Alternative Medicine Schools.
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California Alternative Medicine Schools.

Alternative medicine schools in California offer educational programs that prepare students to become practitioners in one of the many available alternative medicine career fields. Alternative medicine includes acupuncture, herbs, naturopathy, hypnosis, and mind-body practices not used in Western medicine. Students looking for alternative medicine programs should make sure the school is accredited and meets all standards required by the state of California. Students are advised to choose programs that offer internships that provide valuable real-world experience. Alternative medicine schools in California offer degrees ranging from six-month certifications to four-year bachelor’s degrees. Students should be prepared to learn course material in a fast-paced, hands-on environment that follows both in class and laboratory curriculum.

Career Options in Alternative Medicine

Alternative health care is also known as holistic health care. Holistic healthcare providers usually try to treat illnesses as symptoms of a larger problem involving the whole person: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. There are many different options when considering a career in the alternative healthcare field.


An acupuncturist treats various symptoms and illnesses by inserting very fine-gauge needles into specific parts of the patient's body. The insertion of the needles is called acupuncture, a 5,000 year old branch of Chinese medicine. These needles and their placement are designed to help the body heal itself. Acupuncture can ease different types of pain, prevent disease, and treat a host of physical and emotional problems, all without drugs.

  • Potential acupuncturists must have good manual dexterity and an understanding of how the procedures work to heal the body
  • They must have excellent communication skills so that they will be able to help their patients
  • Certification for acupuncturists takes between 3- 4 years, and is valid in most states.
  • Certain states have other criteria that must be met.

Job outlook for acupuncturists and most alternative health practitioners is excellent, as holistic health is becoming more and more mainstream. Salaries for acupuncturists can vary widely based on location, years in practice, and other factors.


A chiropractor is a health care professional who adjusts the spine in order to help the body to function properly. They believe that most body functions can be depressed or adversely affected if the vertebrae are not properly aligned. They adjust the spine with physical manipulation, massage, and sometimes ultrasonic waves and other methods. Chirpractors must:

  • Take board exams before they can graduate.
  • Get their bachelor's degree, and then apply to chiropractor school, which is an additional four years.
  • Have a Doctor of Chiropractic degree.
  • Develop interpersonal skills to help in communicating with their patients
  • Feel comfortable touching other people, as being a chiropractor is a hands-on job.
  • Be in good physical condition
  • Be able to use a variety of positions to adjust their patients' spines.

Job outlook for this career is good, as more and more people are realizing the benefits of chiropractic medicine each year. The salary of a chiropractor can vary based on many factors, including location and years of experience. In general, a chiropractor can expect to make between $60,000 and $100,000 per year.


Naturopathic doctors feel that the body is able to heal and maintain health without the use of surgeries, drugs, or other invasive allopathic techniques. Naturopaths tend to rely on herbal remedies and nutrition to aid the body in healing. They are holistic practitioners, keeping in mind all of the aspects of a patient's physical, mental, and emotional needs. Naturopaths strive to do no harm, find the cause of a patient's symptoms rather than cover them up, and to educate their patients on natural healing.

  • Licensing and practice regulations for naturopaths vary from state to state. In some states, naturopathy is considered illegal. In others, naturopathic doctors can perform surgery or write prescriptions.

More people, including many previously skeptical medical doctors, recognize the benefits of naturopathic medicine than in recent years, so the job outlook for naturopaths is good. Some medical doctors practice some naturopathic medicine, and their salaries are greater than those naturopaths who are not medical doctors. Salaries vary widely depending on location and number of years of experience.

Other holistic health care careers include herbalists, homebirth midwives, massage therapists, and reflexologists. Alternative health careers are growing each year, as they are becoming more mainstream. If you enjoy working with people, would like to work in the health care field, and would prefer to treat the whole patient, a career in alternative medicine might be a good fit for you.

List of Alternative Medicine Schools in California

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