Today we’re talking about branching out a little, thinking outside the box. We all know the obvious way to make money with an acupuncture degree, right? Treat patients. Probably also sell them herbs, supplements, or other wellness products. And of course, this is what most of us want to be doing. But – that doesn’t mean that treating patients and selling products are the only options.
What if you feel like being bold and pushing your boundaries with your acupuncture degree? Letting it take you somewhere exciting, maybe a little scary and unexpected?
There are so many ways you can use your acupuncture degree to supplement your income outside of patient treatment. I like to think of this as having a side hustle. A little something extra in addition to your practice, to help you save more money or maybe just so you feel like a BOSS. If you’re passionate enough, you could certainly make some of these suggestions your full-time gig.
Why? You have an incredible education that can literally take you anywhere you want to go. Teaching? Consulting? Writing? Travel? Volunteering? The world is your oyster! I mean it.
I often feel like acupuncturists underestimate the power of their degree. You are a seriously well-educated human.
Fun fact to help you feel empowered to pursue new avenues for income:
Did you know that to become a lawyer is typically a three-year, 120-credit (or less!) Juris Doctorate degree? Most acupuncture Master’s degrees are at least 120 credits. And a Master’s degree in acupuncture plus herbal medicine? This degree is typically 160+ credits, depending on the school you went to.
You are as well-educated as a lawyer. You worked as hard, and at least as long (possibly much longer) to get the level of expertise that you have in your chosen subject.
Mind blown? You’re welcome.
My point is this: You are an expert. People are willing to pay you for your expertise. For real. And leveraging that education and expertise is where these four suggestions come from.
Without further ado,
4 New Ways to Make Money with Your Acupuncture Master’s Degree:
3) Create/Teach CEU Courses
4) Social Media Management for Other Acupuncturists
Okay, let’s go!
A) Acupuncture School (Graduate Level): Can you see yourself training the next generation of acupuncturists? Are you passionate about not just the practice, but also the theory of Chinese medicine, and excited to share it with others? You could teach at an acupuncture school, lecturing in classes, guiding student interns in clinic, or both. The clinical option is especially good for anyone who doesn’t relish the thought of speaking in front of a group.
You can start as an adjunct or teacher’s assistant (TA) or go full-time; whatever works for you. Starting part-time allows you to maintain your private practice and it’s the perfect way to feel out whether teaching full-time might be for you.
How do you find job openings for faculty or other positions at acupuncture schools?
- The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) has a pretty comprehensive list of acupuncture/TCM instructor positions on their “Job Postings” page: www.ccaom.org/job.asp
- If you want to work at a specific acupuncture college, visit their website and search for “job postings” or “employment opportunities.” You can also contact their human resources department and ask them directly about openings.
B) Undergraduate College: I don’t think a lot of acupuncturists know this, but if you have a Master’s degree you are qualified to teach at community colleges. The minimum level of education to be an adjunct at a community college is a Master’s degree.
For example, I think most acupuncturists have enough expertise/experience to teach classes such as:
- Stress Management
- Complementary, Alternative and Integrative Approaches to Health and Wellness
- Physical Education and Integrated Health
And some four-year undergraduate colleges also allow people with Master’s degrees to teach as well. Most people assume a doctorate is the minimum, but not always. It really depends on the individual college. Your best bet is to do some research and ask around.
If teaching at the undergraduate level interests you, contact the head of the department you’d like to teach in to ask if they have any openings in upcoming semesters. Community colleges often have high turnover rates of adjunct professors, and you never know when an opening will become available.
Not sure if teaching is right for you? Guest lecturing once or twice is a great way to get your feet wet. Get in touch with a professor where you’re thinking of teaching and offer to guest lecture about your specialty. I highly recommend this. I guest lectured at a local community college in a Stress Management class (teaching “Acupuncture for Stress Relief”) and that was how I realized that I loved to teach and wanted to pursue it. That way you can get a feel for whether teaching is something you enjoy.
C) Guest Lecturing in Your Community: Did you know some libraries will pay you to teach classes? Libraries want to be a resource of knowledge for their communities, so certain ones are willing to pay experts to come teach their specialties to the public.
When I was in private practice, several of the libraries in my area paid $50 an hour to lecture about basic topics such as “What is Acupuncture” and “How Can Acupuncture Help My Chronic Pain?” $50 an hour! Can’t hurt to investigate, right?
There are two main directions to go in if you want to use your acupuncture degree for writing: You can write for acupuncturists, or for acupuncture patients/the general public. If you have a lot of experience in one acupuncture specialty, you could write about it to share your knowledge with the acupuncture community. Or if you prefer, you can write about acupuncture or broader health topics, with the wellness-interested public as your audience. Either way, you have a ton of useful knowledge that people want to read.
A) Freelance writing for magazines, newspapers, and websites. There are a number of publications out there that pay for wellness-oriented articles:
1) Check with your local newspapers or small-scale magazines to see whether they pay their columnists or if they’re looking for volunteers.
3) Beyond Your Blog: Submission Guidelines for Health and Wellness Writing Opportunities (Those that pay are marked in green).
B) Write a book or contribute to a book: Have a particular area of expertise you’re ready to share with the acupuncture community? Take Eric Schanke, LAc, of Ashi Acupuncture, for example. Eric is writing a textbook on his specialty and professional passion, the use of ashi points. He’s studied with many experts and over time has gained his own expertise that he’s sharing in his book.
What’s your expertise and passion? Why can’t you write a book on it? Don’t say you can’t. You have an audience of acupuncturists out there who are committed lifelong learners; who says they don’t want to learn from you?
C) Blogging or running a website: Blogging can be a viable avenue for generating income, but only if you commit to it. I will say this: it’s work!
There are two really important things to know about blogging or running a website, especially if you want to make money:
i) You must publish articles regularly and be committed to it. So you better choose a topic that you really love, because some days it’s going to be a pain to write something, and you need to write it anyway.
ii) Generating income through a blog takes time. Like, years. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve been running Modern Acupuncture for 1.5 years and made less than $100. Money hasn’t been my priority, but still. 1.5 years and $100? Good thing my ROI for Modern Acupuncture isn’t based on income!
Examples of acupuncture/TCM/wellness bloggers who generate income:
1. Chinese Medicine Living – Generates income through ads and products.
2. AcuTake – Generates income through their paid Acupuncturist Directory.
Resources about making money blogging:
How to Make Money Blogging by Amy Lynn Andrews
And if you decide to take the plunge: How to Start a Blog in Three Easy Steps
The emphasis I would place on all of these writing ideas (articles, book writing, blogging) is that you just have to have is a passion for your topic of choice. You have the education and the expertise. Now put that passion to work and go write it!
3) Create and Teach Acupuncture CEU Courses:
Do you have a special expertise that you could share with other acupuncturists? A treatment style that you’ve pioneered, or perhaps extensive experience with a certain symptom or condition? It’s surprisingly easy to create acupuncture CEU courses. You could create:
A) Online acupuncture CEU courses (Distance learning):
Distance learning courses such as eBooks or recorded videos are a great option because you do the hard work of creating the course once, and people can buy it and download it over and over without any extra effort on your part. Once you’ve got it rolling, you can make money while you sleep! If this doesn’t define the American dream, I don’t know what does. Even if you don’t sell the course with CEU credits, and you simply sell an eBook or podcast, that’s still passive income!
Examples of acupuncturists who sell CEU courses or educational eCourses (no CEUs) about their specialty:
Pediatric Acupuncture Training CEUs by Robin Green, L.Ac.
Acupuncture in Hospice and Palliative Care CEUs by Torii Black, L.Ac., RN
AcuProsper Acupuncture Marketing eCourses (no CEUs) by Katie Atlneu, l.Ac.
Don’t know how to get started? Here are two great resources for creating online courses:
How to Create and Produce Your First Information Product (eBook or online course) from the Nectar Collective
How to Create a Killer eCourse from byRegina.com
B) Teach acupuncture CEU seminars in person:
The original (and still awesome) way to deliver acupuncture CEUs. In-person seminars are ideal if you want to teach a needling style or other hands-on technique. You’d probably want to teach that in person so that you can demonstrate your method and assess people’s technique. (Or at least, I would.) Seminars are usually longer (think one to three days) and are able to offer more CEU credits than distance learning. They also tend to be more dynamic and social than online courses, bringing together acupuncturists from all different locations.
Remember that you don’t have to be a “big name” to teach seminars or create distance learning courses. Not at all! In fact, all the big name people started out small. We all do, at everything we pursue in life, right? So don’t let this hold you back. If you have a passion for teaching a particular technique, style, theory, or whatever else to other acupuncturists, you can do it!
How to get started creating acupuncture CEU courses:
1. Apply with the NCCAOM to become a PDA Provider. You have to be in good standing with the NCCAOM and have been in practice five years in order to apply. To apply, submit your application along with the $200 fee and your resume.
2. Once you’re approved to be a PDA provider, you submit each individual CEU course for NCCAOM approval. Submit the course itself, the required NCCAOM paperwork, a fee, and wait for their response.
The NCCAOM provides detailed instructions for everything on their PDA Program Page. Please note that this information is accurate at the time this article was written, but you’ll definitely want to double check with the NCCAOM’s website to make sure it’s still correct whenever you’re reading it.
4) Manage Social Media for Other Acupuncturists:
This one is for those of us out there who love social media and already spend a lot of time on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Why should you, an acupuncturist, get paid to manage other acupuncturists’ social media? Because you know what’s appropriate to post, what’s interesting to an audience of acupuncture patients, what the reliable sources are, and what isn’t totally crazy sauce (“acupuncture cures everything!”).
In other words, you would post what the acupuncturist is looking for, and they don’t have to train you like they would if they paid a muggle (non-acupuncturist) to keep their social media updated.
Many acupuncturists I know are not crazy about this aspect of running their businesses. Let’s be honest: social media management can be an absurd amount of work, especially if you’re doing it right and posting as often as they say you should for maximum reach. Who has time to treat 10 patients and post to Twitter 5-14 times a day? Ain’t nobody got time for that! But – most acupuncturists (or any small business in general) would seriously benefit from regular, targeted social media activity.
If you hate social media, ask yourself: would you pay someone to do it well and generate new patients for you? If you love social media: ask yourself, would you want to get paid to do something you already enjoy doing? Of course!
The beauty of the magical internet is that you can manage other peoples’ social media remotely through free platforms like Hootsuite. As long as you have their passwords, you’re all set. Start asking around to your acupuncturist friends, the ones you know hate social media, to see if they’d be willing to let you take over their accounts for a fee. You’ll be surprised by how many people are happy to have it taken off their hands!
Holy moly guys, this is a beast of a post. But it helps to be detailed, yes? Kudos to you for making it all the way to the bottom!
I hope these ideas inspire you to pursue all of your dreams, side hustles, and interests. I really believe that passion and commitment are all you need to create new avenues for income. And of course, these four broad areas are not the only possibilities.
Run with your passions, combine interests that you’ve never considered before, and crush it!
Do you use your acupuncture degree and knowledge to make money outside of patient treatment? Don’t hold back – tell us in the comments below!