Careers Service Occupations

Complementary Therapies

Complementary Therapies

About

Most complementary medicine and alternative therapy practitioners are self-employed. Opportunities are also available working in GP surgeries, hospitals, occupational health departments and sport and leisure centres.

Careers advice

Industry news

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates. They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

The main professional associations for this sector include:

General

Acupuncturist

Alexander technique practitioner

Chiropractor

Dance movement psychotherapist

Homeopath

Horticultural therapist

Hypnotherapist

Medical herbalist/Phytotherapist

Nutritional therapist

Osteopath

Play therapist

Reflexologist

Shiatsu practitioner

Sports therapist

Making contacts

Making contacts is essential for success in this sector. You could start with:

Social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, is useful for making contacts, finding employers and opportunities. Find out more about how to use social media for your career and subscribe to our complementary therapies Twitter list.

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and events give insight and opportunities to make contacts. For events for this sector see Careers Service events or External Events.

Related sectors

You may also be interested in:

Or see our other Sector-specific pages for more options.

Roles & Skills

The majority of complementary healthcare is provided within the private sector, with most therapists working as self-employed. Complementary healthcare is rarely used in the NHS, but limited acupuncture, the Alexander technique and chiropractic treatment can sometimes be available.

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies.

Acupuncturist

Alexander technique practitioner

Chiropractor

Dance movement psychotherapist

Homeopath

Horticultural therapist

Hypnotherapist

Medical herbalist

Nutritional therapist

Osteopath

Play therapist

Reflexologist

Shiatsu practitioner

Sports therapist

Skills employers look for

  • communication and interpersonal skills to build up a relationship with clients
  • excellent listening skills
  • a logical approach to problem solving
  • sensitivity and empathy
  • a calm and understanding approach
  • practical skills and dexterity
Philip H is an Acupuncturist.
Phil J is a Sports Therapist.

Gaining Experience

Getting into complementary therapies is competitive. Work experience is invaluable in developing relevant skills and demonstrating your interest and commitment.

Finding companies

Work shadowing with relevant practitioners can help to develop your knowledge of the role and gain an insight into what it is like to run your own clinic. 

Smaller practices often don’t advertise work experience. You may need to contact them directly, with a speculative approach. Do this early, as it can be very competitive. 

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. 

Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Try the following to find companies to approach:

Newcastle Alumni

See making contacts and researching employers for advice on how to find and approach people for help with your career.

Finding Jobs

Most complementary medicine and alternative therapy practitioners are self-employed, or find work in complementary therapy centres.

The NHS employs therapists to offer complementary therapies, such as osteopathy and acupuncture to patients. See NHS jobs for vacancies and NHS choices for details of trusts to contact speculatively.

Some professional bodies advertise opportunities in e-newsletters, journals or magazines on a subscription basis. Below are links to directories of current registered practitioners, for inspiration.

General

Acupuncture

Alexander technique

Chiropractic

Dance movement psychotherapy

Herbal medicine/phytotherapy

Homeopathy

Horticultural therapy

Hypnotherapy

Nutritional therapy

Play therapy

Reflexology

Shiatsu

Sports therapy

Finding companies

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. 

Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Try the following to find companies to approach:

Newcastle Alumni

Training

For most careers in complementary therapy you need a qualification approved or accredited by the relevant professional body.

Check entry requirements for each role using the role profiles in the Roles and Skills section.

See Further Study for more information on finding, funding and applying for courses or come and talk to us. No appointment is needed.

Work for Yourself

Being self-employed or working as a freelancer is very common in the complementary therapies sector.

START UP provides information on the range of activities and support available to eligible Newcastle students and graduates interested in developing enterprise skills or starting their own business.

COBRA has factsheets and reports on starting up and running a business. COBRA can only be accessed through a University computer on the Newcastle campus.