Career Information for a Degree in Herbal Studies

Degree programs in herbal studies can provide students with the base of knowledge they'll need to work in the herbal areas of medicine, education, sales and other fields. Career options in herbal studies include postsecondary educator, retail salesperson or professional herbalist, among many other possibilities.

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Herbal Studies Degree and Career Information

Herbal studies degree programs are available, as well as programs that offer herbal education, such as herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine, alternative medicine and naturopathy programs. In addition to degree programs, some schools offer certificate and diploma programs at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

The length and content of these programs can vary by school. For example, certificate and diploma programs can take several years to complete, and like degree programs, include training in anatomy, nutrition and the clinical uses of herbs. Programs designed for hobbyists or retail store clerks are often shorter in length and provide instruction in herbal identification as well a basic understanding of their medicinal properties.

Herbal Retail Salesperson

Herbal retail salespersons might work in health food stores, dedicated herbal stores, cooperative supermarkets or similar businesses to answer customer questions, suggest appropriate herbal remedies and make sales. These workers generally need a knowledge of the herbs and products they sell, because misuse of herbal products may be harmful.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reported that employment of retail salespersons, including herbal retail sales persons, is expected to grow 17% between 2010 and 2020. In May 2012, the BLS also reported that the annual median salary of a retail sales worker was $21,110.

Professional Herbalists

Professional herbalists provide herbal recommendations to their clients and, depending on their training, may also provide other diagnostic and treatment services. Some herbalists are trained in the use of herbs only, while others may hold licensure in other health care modalities, such as naturopathy, acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine.

Herbalists may also work with medical doctors or are medical doctors themselves. The educational requirements for each type of herbalist vary significantly. For example, acupuncturists and naturopaths must obtain professional licensure before practicing in some states. Herbalists may also want to earn professional certification from a recognized herbalism professional association.

Educator

Professional herbalists, particularly those with postgraduate credentials in health care, herbalism or botany, can teach herbalism to others. Educators can teach adult education courses to the public, hobby or professional herbalism students, as well as courses for health care professionals who want to learn more about the medicinal uses of herbs. Positions can be found with educational institutions or professional organizations.

In 2010, the BLS reported that job opportunities for health educators was expected to grow 37% between 2010 and 2020. As of May 2012, the median annual salary for health educators was reported to be $48,790.

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