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How to Become a Naturopathic Doctor

What Does a Naturopathic Doctor Do?

naturopathic doctor with stethoscope

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are licensed physicians who strive to integrate the benefits of conventional medicine with complimentary botanical, nutritional and homeopathic therapies. They assess not only their patients’ physical health, but their emotional, mental and spiritual health as well. This approach is informed by the philosophy of treating the whole person, rather than just the symptoms.

Naturopathic doctors combine conventional and alternative treatments to complement each other, giving them a toolkit that is considerably more diverse than that of traditional, allopathic physicians. They experience the satisfaction of helping patients overcome their immediate health issues while also addressing the behaviors and belief systems that underlie the symptoms at hand. In this way, naturopathic doctors help their patients recover today and prepare for a healthier tomorrow.

Workplace Details

Naturopathic doctors can work in a wide variety of clinical settings, including hospitals, community health centers, private practices and clinics. As with any physician, the working hours can be irregular depending on the clinical setting. For example, naturopathic doctors serving inpatient hospital-based settings may often need to work overnight or be on-call. To be “on-call” means to be available overnight and on weekends in order to answer patient and nurse calls, to prescribe medications, and to make emergency office or hospital visits, when necessary. Of course, NDs working in outpatient settings, such as a medical clinic, will often have better overall working hours.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
New York
$177330
California
$201790
Florida
$219010
Texas
$207750
Pennsylvania
$197250

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $117,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$158,980Over $187,200Over $187,200
Huntsville$156,350Over $187,200Over $187,200

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$52,370$163,440Over $187,200

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $73,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$60,600Over $187,200Over $187,200
Tuscon$129,080Over $187,200Over $187,200

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $48,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$46,260$78,120Over $187,200
Fort Smith$85,250Over $187,200Over $187,200

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$87,480Over $187,200Over $187,200
San Francisco Bay$59,510Over $187,200Over $187,200
San Diego$98,080Over $187,200Over $187,200
Sacramento$129,880Over $187,200Over $187,200

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $101,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$97,350Over $187,200Over $187,200
Colorado Springs$96,310Over $187,200Over $187,200

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $59,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 270

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$55,840Over $187,200Over $187,200
Bridgeport$59,120Over $187,200Over $187,200
New Haven$71,070Over $187,200Over $187,200

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$56,810Over $187,200Over $187,200
Dover$95,220Over $187,200Over $187,200

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$168,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$70,350$174,880Over $187,200

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $49,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,030

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$53,920Over $187,200Over $187,200
Orlando$130,920Over $187,200Over $187,200
Tampa$47,580Over $187,200Over $187,200
Jacksonville$43,140$124,870Over $187,200

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $92,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 770

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$140,960Over $187,200Over $187,200
Augusta$45,100$88,300Over $187,200

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $76,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$67,970Over $187,200Over $187,200

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $92,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$62,640Over $187,200Over $187,200
Idaho Falls$118,280Over $187,200Over $187,200

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 570

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$50,030$177,170Over $187,200
Rockford$61,820$174,500Over $187,200

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $112,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 420

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$95,880Over $187,200Over $187,200
South Bend$68,610Over $187,200Over $187,200
Fort Wayne$132,920Over $187,200Over $187,200

IOWA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $101,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$69,780Over $187,200Over $187,200
Cedar Rapids$115,170$181,940Over $187,200

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $46,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$146,690Over $187,200Over $187,200
Kansas City$45,950Over $187,200Over $187,200

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
$183,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 270

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$54,790$131,970Over $187,200

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $103,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 210

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$135,540$185,360Over $187,200
Baton Rouge$157,080Over $187,200Over $187,200
Lafayette$85,520$121,150Over $187,200

MAINE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$54,360Over $187,200Over $187,200
Lewiston$166,570Over $187,200Over $187,200

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
$173,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $83,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 430

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$60,040Over $187,200Over $187,200
Frederick$84,080$132,830Over $187,200

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
$169,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 370

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$54,360$79,440Over $187,200
Worcester$54,050$178,540Over $187,200
Springfield$55,170$155,220Over $187,200

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
$176,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 440

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$48,730$162,580Over $187,200
Grand Rapids$109,540Over $187,200Over $187,200

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $137,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$134,390Over $187,200Over $187,200
Rochester$104,470Over $187,200Over $187,200

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $44,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Gulfport$85,890Over $187,200Over $187,200

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $82,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$83,530Over $187,200Over $187,200
Kansas City$45,950Over $187,200Over $187,200

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $136,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$177,170Over $187,200Over $187,200
Missoula$117,150Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
$133,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$53,470$86,890Over $187,200
Lincoln$83,520Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $57,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$52,710Over $187,200Over $187,200
Reno$69,870Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $158,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$158,400Over $187,200Over $187,200
NashuaOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 580

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$54,470$178,330Over $187,200
Trenton$56,120$186,780Over $187,200

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $86,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$49,620Over $187,200Over $187,200
Las Cruces$28,800Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$170,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $60,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,880

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$59,850$161,480Over $187,200
Buffalo$46,140Over $187,200Over $187,200
Rochester$52,630$133,470Over $187,200
Albany$54,820$170,340Over $187,200

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 530

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$113,770Over $187,200Over $187,200
Raleigh$149,440Over $187,200Over $187,200
Greensboro$185,510Over $187,200Over $187,200
Winston - Salem$92,590Over $187,200Over $187,200

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $92,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$151,250Over $187,200Over $187,200
Bismarck$186,030Over $187,200Over $187,200

OHIO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 710

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$55,700Over $187,200Over $187,200
Columbus$59,120Over $187,200Over $187,200
Cincinnati$53,100$170,420Over $187,200
Dayton$50,780Over $187,200Over $187,200

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $48,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 240

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$46,130Over $187,200Over $187,200
Tulsa$48,410Over $187,200Over $187,200

OREGON

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 280

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$55,270Over $187,200Over $187,200
Salem$125,120Over $187,200Over $187,200

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 610

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$53,700$165,090Over $187,200
Pittsburgh$54,250Over $187,200Over $187,200
Harrisburg$56,210$175,570Over $187,200
Allentown$81,180Over $187,200Over $187,200

RHODE ISLAND

Median Salary: 
$168,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 3%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$55,280$170,620Over $187,200

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $57,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$53,320$63,470Over $187,200
Columbia$69,390Over $187,200Over $187,200
Charleston$59,970Over $187,200Over $187,200

SOUTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $175,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$172,530Over $187,200Over $187,200
Rapid City$184,970Over $187,200Over $187,200

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $130,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 340

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$124,530Over $187,200Over $187,200
Memphis$118,010Over $187,200Over $187,200
Knoxville$133,270Over $187,200Over $187,200
Chattanooga$113,250Over $187,200Over $187,200

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,210

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$54,600Over $187,200Over $187,200
Houston$60,090$176,240Over $187,200
San Antonio$48,060$185,970Over $187,200
Austin$172,750Over $187,200Over $187,200

UTAH

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $78,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Ogden$54,650Over $187,200Over $187,200

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $62,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Burlington$56,160$157,280Over $187,200

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 360

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$56,320Over $187,200Over $187,200
Richmond$144,930Over $187,200Over $187,200

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $120,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 240

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$108,630Over $187,200Over $187,200
Spokane$141,830Over $187,200Over $187,200

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $65,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$118,980Over $187,200Over $187,200
Charleston$54,170Over $187,200Over $187,200

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $59,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 200

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$149,240Over $187,200Over $187,200
Madison$53,940Over $187,200Over $187,200

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $166,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$168,640Over $187,200Over $187,200
CasperOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for healthcare practitioners, of which naturopathic doctors are included, is $206,920. Meanwhile, the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges estimates that NDs on average earn $90,000 per year.

Each particular naturopathic doctor’s income will depend on the years of experience, specialty type, and location of the job. For example, NDs are typically paid more in the Midwest than they are in coastal metropolitan areas. Similarly, NDs who own their clinics will often make more than those employed by a hospital.

Healthcare continues to be a rapidly expanding and in-demand career field. As with many of the various available careers in healthcare, the future remains bright for naturopathy. This is in part due to a combination of an aging population and increasing patient interest in complimentary and alternative medicine. According to O*Net and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, naturopathic doctors can expect job growth of 9-13% between the years 2014 and 2024. This results in an above-average rate of career growth for naturopathic physicians as compared to all careers evaluated.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$161480 Per Year

$77.63 Per Hour

Chicago IL Median Pay

$177170 Per Year

$85.17 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Naturopathic Doctor

1

Earn a bachelor's degree.

The first step in a path towards naturopathic medicine is to obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. While there, pre-medical classes such as general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and biology are requisites.

Show Me Schools »

2

Attend naturopathic medical school.

When choosing a naturopathic medical school, it is important to distinguish between accredited and non-accredited programs. Examples of accredited programs include Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington and San Diego, California. Attending a school that isn’t accredited, however, decreases your marketability and job prospects.

The core curriculum of naturopathic medical school begins with a foundation in traditional medical subjects, such as physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, and pharmacology. Additional emphasis is placed on complimentary medical subjects that are not typically part of a traditional physician’s training, including acupuncture, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, botanical medicine, and nutritional medicine.

Similar to a traditional medical doctor (MD), a naturopathic doctor will dedicate the first two years of naturopathic medical school to classroom-based didactic study; the last two years focus on hands-on, clinical training. This clinical training is often pursued in the specialty area of naturopathic medicine that the student would like to ultimately practice, supervised by licensed NDs who themselves have completed the requisite specialty training.

3

Pass the NPLEX exam.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia require NDs to be licensed. These states require that the naturopathic doctor both attend an accredited four-year naturopathic medical school and pass a postdoctoral board exam - the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX). This only underscores the importance of attending an accredited naturopathic medical school so that your area of practice is not ultimately limited.

4

Entertain all possibilities for your career to evolve.

The opportunities for career advancement in naturopathic medicine mirror those of traditional allopathic medicine – that is, they are specific to each given practice setting. For example, if employed by a hospital or healthcare system, there may be increasingly senior leadership roles that naturopathic physicians can pursue, such as division chief or chief medical officer. Alternatively, if an ND is employed by an academic medical center, career advancement may take place along a more traditional professorship pathway.

Exploring the Degree Path

Becoming a naturopathic doctor requires earning a professional degree, which generally takes 8–10 years in total, including optional post-graduate residency.

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

4 years

Your first step toward becoming a naturopathic physician is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Naturopathic medical schools accept all majors. However, you’ll need to complete many of the same prerequisites as a pre-medicine student. These typically include classes in:

  • Algebra
  • General chemistry with lab (1 year)
  • Organic chemistry with lab
  • Biology with lab
  • Physics with lab
  • Psychology and the humanities

Show Me Schools »

Many naturopathic medical schools also recommend classes in anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry.

While naturopathy schools aren’t as selective as medical schools when it comes to admissions, it’s important to keep your college grade point average up. This is particularly true in your prerequisite science classes.

Missing some of the classes you need? Some naturopathic schools offer degree- and prerequisite- completion programs.

MEDICAL SCHOOL

4 years

After earning your bachelor’s degree, it’s time to select a naturopathic medical school. If you’re in a state or territory that licenses naturopathic doctors, this means attending one of seven programs accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME).

Naturopathic medical schools award either a Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) or a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (NMD) degree. The difference is in name only – both have the same licensing requirements and scope of practice.

The curricula of naturopathic medical schools vary widely. Classes generally cover anatomy and physiology, clinical sciences, patient care, and naturopathic treatment modalities. Examples of common courses include:

Spinal evaluation and management

Practice examining the spine and its related anatomy as well as diagnosing and treating simple abnormalities.

Clinical laboratory diagnosis

Gain familiarity with common laboratory tests that can support diagnosis and treatment.

Health psychology

Learn about the role mental health plays in overall wellness and how to manage these disorders in a primary care setting.

Botanical medicine

Study how medicinal plants can be selected, prepared, and administered to promote wellness and treat health issues.

Naturopathic students also complete clinical rotations at teaching, community, and specialty clinics. They begin these experiences as observers and progress to treating patients under supervision.

RESIDENCY

1-2 years

After graduation, naturopathic doctors can complete an optional 1–2-year residency. This involves working under supervision at an integrated medicine center. Residents often choose to focus on treating a population (cancer patients, pediatric) or gaining experience in a discipline (homeopathy, naturopathic counseling).

Keys to Success as a Naturopathic Doctor

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Interpersonal skills

As with traditional physicians, NDs must be patient and empathetic as they provide care to patients.

Driven

A strong work ethic and a hardworking nature are necessary to be a good ND who delivers timely clinical decisions.

Passion and intellectual curiosity

Applicants should possess a strong passion for the “whole body” philosophy, in addition to an interest in balancing traditional and alternative medicines.

Additional Credentials

There are no advanced certifications specifically for naturopathic doctors. However, many pursue advanced study or second degrees in modalities like acupuncture, midwifery, counseling, and Eastern medicine.

Andrew T. Colucci, MD

Andrew T. Colucci, MD is a senior radiology resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, and a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, and a graduate from Boston University School of Medicine and Boston College. His professional interests are quite varied and include clinical research, medical education, healthcare economics, and health policy.

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