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Build Your Career Get Ahead

My Job Description: The Acupuncturist

My Job Description: The Acupuncturist Credit: Dean Bushala

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that involves inserting needles at specific points of the body. It's been used for centuries to relieve pain and other health issues. But what is it like to do acupuncture for a living?

Business News Daily asked Amy Landolt, professional acupuncturist and owner of Northshore Acupuncture Center, all about her career. It's a lot more than just sticking people with needles all day — here's what she had to say.

Business News Daily: What do you do?

Amy Landolt: [I] help people feel better so they can do what they enjoy — golfing, running, playing with their grandchildren or going out for dinner with friends — without worrying about the location of the nearest bathroom.

BND: What made you want to pursue the industry you're in?

Landolt: I was tossing and turning every night. When I'd finally fall asleep, I'd wake back up. Or my sleep was restless, and I felt like I hadn't slept at all. Everyday challenges felt overwhelming; I was on edge. I thought the only solution was to take [medication], but the pills made me feel foggy and detached. A friend insisted I try acupuncture. I thought there was no way that someone sticking needles in me would help. After two sessions, I could sleep through the night without any medication.

I experienced several other "side effects" from the acupuncture, including mental clarity, less stress, more energy and resolution of an old digestive issue. Needless to say, I was hooked and decided to become an acupuncturist to help others tackle their health issues without all of the side effects.

BND: How did you get into your job?

Landolt: I worked for a corporation for almost 20 years. I wanted to use my business experience and be my own boss, so I opened Northshore Acupuncture Center.

BND: What do you like about your job?

Landolt: I was a huge Nancy Drew fan when I was a kid — I love solving a mystery. First, I gather all of the clues — symptoms the client is experiencing, [for example,] ringing in ears, digestive issues, sleep quality; medical history — trauma, supplements; physical observations [like] dry hair or skin, ridged fingernails, swollen ankles, bloodshot eyes; and physical exam [results like] pulse, sensitive points, range of motion. I then analyze the clues to determine the root causes.  Frequently, clients will notice that the acupuncture resolves other issues beyond their primary focus. But what I love most is seeing my client's smile when they feel well enough to get back to what they love. 

BND: What challenges do you face at your job?

Landolt: A lot of people are afraid of needles.

BND: What's something people don't know about your job?

Landolt: Most people in the United States think they don't need acupuncture if they don't have any pain. However, it's helpful for so many other things, such as sleeping disorders, anxiety, hot flashes, infertility and Bell's palsy.

BND: What's the most interesting thing you've ever done at your job?

Landolt: I set a goal to introduce 100 people who had never tried it to acupuncture in 100 days. It was inspiring to see my community come together to support me hitting my goal. I performed group acupuncture treatments at yoga studios, fitness clubs and businesses. I did an acupuncture fundraiser for Curt's Café — an organization that trains at-risk youth on job and life skills — that raised over $1,300. I did stress-relief treatments at a DUI counsel center. I was able to introduce 101 people to acupuncture in 99 days.

BND: Do you have any advice for others pursuing a similar career path?

Landolt: Start educating yourself about owning a business. There aren't a lot of job postings for acupuncturists, so you may need to open your own practice. You can't run a successful practice just by being a good healer — you also need strong business management skills.

Brittney Helmrich
Brittney Helmrich

Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years. Follow Brittney on Twitter at @brittneyplz, or contact her by email.