Entry requirements and training (complementary and alternative medicine)
This page has information on the entry requirements, training and skills needed for a career in complementary and alternative medicine.
Entry requirements, training and how you register to practice, depends on the complementary or alternative therapy you choose to practice.
Each therapy has its own entry requirements.
- to practice as a chiropractor you have to be registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC). The GCC website lists approved courses which last four or five years. You need three A levels (or equivalent) to get on a course.
- to practice as an osteopath, you have to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). GOsC approved courses usually last four years full time or five years part time. You need three A levels (or equivalent) including science to get on a course. Use our course finder to search for institutions offering GOsC approved courses
- other therapies set their own standards for becoming a practitioner, usually by taking an accredited training course, and leading to voluntary registration. The professional association websites (see ‘further information' on our main CAM page) describe the training and list courses and training providers.
Employers may expect therapists to be registered with either the General Regulatory Council for Complementary Therapies or the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). They may expect therapists to have experience of working in healthcare, either paid or voluntary.
The Professional Standards Authority accredits a number of voluntary registers against its standards including governance, setting standards for registrants, education and training, managing the register. These include several voluntary registers for complementary therapies, including:
- British Acupuncture Council
- Federation of Holistic Therapies
- National Hypnotherapy Society
- Personal characteristics and skills Expand / Collapse
Complementary and alternative therapist need to be
- interested in working alongside healthcare professionals
- willing to be hands-on with patients
- caring and reassuring
- able to deal with other people’s strong emotions
- able to work with all ages
- willing to work as part of a team
- Skills needed Expand / Collapse
You'll also need
- very good communication skills, including listening
- good organisational skills
- business skills for private practice
- Training and development Expand / Collapse
When you start work at a clinic or hospital, you will be given training in the systems and procedures.
Most therapists become members of the professional association for their therapy. Find more information' on the professional associations are available on our main CAM page.
Therapists need to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. The professional associations run courses and conferences where therapists can update their skills and network with others in the same field.