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Herbalist

Herbalists advise people about the use of herbs and dietary supplements to maintain good health and relieve symptoms related to conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, skin disorders or stomach ailments.

Also Known As:Complimentary Medicine Practitioner
NOC Number(s):3232.4
Minimum Education:Education/training requirements vary
Employment Outlook:Job openings generated due to employment turnover. Occupational outlook currently unavailable.
Interests:S I D

Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Related Legislation | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study

Duties

Herbology is the study of plants and their health benefits. There are a number of different traditions of herbology including Western, Indigenous, Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic (East Indian).

Herbalists may apply their knowledge of herbology to:

  • recommend herbal products for clients
  • cultivate herbs
  • manufacture or formulate herbal compounds and tinctures
  • trade herbs for commercial purposes or act as wholesale distributors
  • teach or write about herbology.

Clinical herbalists deal directly with clients. Their duties and responsibilities depend on where they work and the type of herbology they practice. In general, however, they:

  • interview clients about health problems, personal and family medical history, current medical prescriptions and lifestyle
  • observe clients to determine their general physical, mental and emotional condition
  • determine the most likely underlying health problems
  • recommend appropriate dietary changes, supplements or prepared herbal products, create unique mixtures for individual clients or recommend lifestyle changes.

Practical herbalists working in herbal or health food stores answer customers' questions and make recommendations. Those working in herbal wellness centres generally conduct lengthier interviews and may be more knowledgeable.


Working Conditions

Herbalists may work in private homes, stores, clinics (with chiropractors, naturopaths or other health practitioners), wellness centres or greenhouses. Lifting up to 10 kilograms may be required.

Hours of work vary and may include some evenings and weekends. Sometimes, clients call herbalists for advice outside of regular working hours.


Personal Characteristics

Herbalists need the following characteristics:

  • a genuine interest in working with people on a one-to-one basis and in improving client health
  • the ability to communicate and get along well with all kinds of people
  • a willingness to upgrade their knowledge of herbology and natural medicines on an ongoing basis.

They should enjoy talking to people, analyzing information and handling herbs.


Educational Requirements

The practice of herbology is not regulated in Alberta. There are no standard minimum education or training requirements. However, practising herbalists strongly recommend education or training in herbology, nutrition, anatomy and physiology.

The Ontario Herbalist Association reviews training programs offered across Canada and lists approved programs on their website. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective herbalists should discuss their training options with practising herbalists.

Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton offers a two year Holistic Health Practitioner diploma program that includes courses in herbology. The entrance requirement is a high school diploma with Biology 30 and Chemistry 30 or Science 30 and at least 65 per cent in English Language Arts 30-1 or 75 per cent in English Language Arts 30-2, or equivalent. Accepted applicants are required to have standard first aid, CPR, basic rescuer level C and immunization (all completed by the end of the first term of Year 1) and a current security clearance (required by the start of the first term).

Three and four year programs in Traditional Chinese Medicine may include courses in herbology (for more information, see the Acupuncturist occupational profile).

For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.

Section revised March 2012

Related Legislation
Self-employed herbalists may be required to have a municipal business license and should have some form of malpractice insurance.

Employment and Advancement

Herbalists work in:

  • health food stores
  • chiropractic offices
  • physiotherapy clinics
  • herbal healing centres
  • wellness centres.

They may be employed by others or set up their own shops or private practices. Some herbalists:

  • work with medical or naturopathic doctors
  • grow herbs for sale
  • manufacture herbal products and sell them wholesale to distributors
  • formulate herbal products
  • provide consulting services.

Advancement in this occupation generally takes the form of building a larger client base or offering other alternative health services (for example, providing diet and lifestyle recommendations, bioresonance therapy).

Herbalists are part of the larger National Occupational Classification 3232: Midwives and Practitioners of Natural Healing. In Alberta, 89 per cent of  people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Section revised November 2011

Salary

Practical herbalists employed in health food stores or other retail outlets earn hourly wages comparable to other retail salespersons (for more information, see the Retail Salesperson occupational profile).

Treatment fees charged by self-employed clinical herbologists vary considerably. Their take-home pay for any given period depends on the number of clients they see and their overhead costs (for example, the cost of renting office space). Some herbalists supplement their incomes via product sales from dispensaries.


Other Sources of Information

Post-secondary institution calendar and website (see Educational Requirements above)

EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

Canadian Herbalist's Association of British Columbia website: www.chaofbc.ca

Ontario Herbalist Association website: www.herbalists.on.ca


Related Occupational Profiles
Acupuncturist
Food Science Technologist
Homeopath
Naturopathic Doctor

Related High School Subjects
Science (Biology; and Chemistry)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Health Care and Medical Sciences; Human Ecology, Fashion and Food Sciences; and Personal and Food Services

Produced September 2010
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For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at alis.alberta.ca, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.


Government of Alberta, Human Services