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Acupuncturists diagnose and treat disorders and illnesses by stimulating the body’s defence mechanisms. This is done by inserting fine needles into the skin. Acupuncturists diagnose illness by  Future Growth Strong checking a patient’s pulse, skin colour, nails, tongue and temperature in different parts of the body. Needles are then inserted into areas of the body, and manipulated, during treatment – heat and massage are also used. An acupuncturist provides treatment of symptoms and disorders using needles and small electrical currents. Acupuncturists may provide massage treatment, and other preventive treatments.

ANZSCO ID & description: 252211: Treats disorders and illnesses by stimulating the body's defence mechanisms through inserting fine needles into the skin. Registration or licensing may be required.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

An acupuncturist needs:

  • a keen interest in biological sciences and complementary therapies

  • understanding and sensitivity

  • good communication and listening skills

  • a logical approach to solving problems

  • self-awareness and emotional stability

  • good coordination and a steady hand

  • to be compassionate

  • to be patient and tactful

  • to be able to gain the confidence of their patients.

  • ethical and moral

  • judgement and decision making

  • strong attention to detail



    Patient with needle

Duties and Tasks

  • administer treatment according to health standards, laws and procedures

  • apply heat treatment and massage pressure to further stimulate the body

  • assess patients through verbal questioning and examinations

  • diagnose and assess individual health problems

  • insert sterile needles into patients body and manipulate the areas causing health problems

  • provide treatment of medical issues and body pain

  • taking a detailed history from clients

  • talking about issues surrounding their symptoms, such as lifestyle, diet and emotions

  • diagnosing and deciding what action to take

  • selecting specific points on the body to be treated

  • inserting needles according to the level of stimulation required

  • keeping records of treatment given to each patient.

Your clients could include those with conditions ranging from arthritis, circulatory problems and high blood pressure to migraine, depression and addiction.

As well as inserting needles, you may also use methods such as moxibustion (burning a dried herb above an acupuncture point), cupping (using a vacuum cup on acupuncture points) and electro-acupuncture (electrical energy to treat parts of the body).

Working conditions

Acupuncturists are usually self-employed and work alone. This means that you could choose your own working hours, although you may have to offer evening and weekend appointments to meet the needs of your patients.
However, they may work in a practice where other natural therapy health workers also work or sometimes at a GP surgery or hospital. Acupuncturists work in an indoor office environment and predominately work alone. Often an Acupuncturist will travel to a patients house to treat them in the comfort of their own home.  It would be helpful to have a drivers’ licence as you may carry out treatments at several locations, including clients' homes.

Tools and technologies

Acupuncturists need to have a good understanding of the human body. They use acupuncture needles as part of their treatment.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an acupuncturist, you usually have to complete a degree in health science with a major in acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, biology, and chemistry would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.

Before undertaking clinical placements, students need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and relevant immunisations. Depending on the State in which you are employed, you may be required to undergo an aged-care sector employment screening assessment through the relevant State Government department. If you are working with children, you would be required to complete the equivalent of a Working with Children check or disability services employment screening. To work as an acupuncturist in Australia, you must be registered with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia. Members are required to obtain a degree to practise acupuncture.


Employment Opportunities

Employment for acupuncturists is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Natural medicine is a growing area generally, and this increasing acceptance of therapies that are either alternative or complementary to conventional Western medicine will see increased opportunities for natural therapists of all types, including acupuncturists.

Did You Know?

Needles in face

Acupuncture is not new in Australia. Since at least the 1840s it has been one of the methods used by practitioners of Chinese medicine for treating a range of disorders, and was used by some medical practitioners during the 19th century for pain management.

Interest in acupuncture escalated in post-war Europe with the establishment of an acupuncture society in France in 1945 and England in the 1960s.

In the 1970s acupuncture received considerable attention in the Australian press, and this was associated with the development of training courses and associations.

The 1980s saw rapid expansion in both acupuncture and other aspects of Chinese medicine including herbal medicine, tui na (therapeutic massage) and exercise systems such as tai chi and qi gong.

During the 1990s courses proliferated, standards of practice were developed and calls for regulation culminated in the registration of practitioners of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in Victoria in 2000. However, acupuncture remains unregulated in other states and territories in Australia.

How Common Is Acupuncture in Australia?

A nationwide survey about the use of 17 forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Australia was conducted in 2005 by Charlie Xue and colleagues. The survey estimated that nearly one in 10 (9.2%) Australians used acupuncture over a 12-month period and over 10 million visits were made to acupuncturists nationally each year. Most of the acupuncture users were born in Australia, had completed post-secondary education, were covered by private health insurance and lived in the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
(Source: Issues)

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Materials sourced from
Jobs & Skills WA [Acupuncturist; ]
Open University
CareerHQ [Acupuncturist; ]
 Your Career [Acupuncturist; ] 




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