How to Become a Licensed Herbalist

Overview

A licensed herbalist is a professional who uses herbs and plants for their healing and restorative properties. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), "Herbal medicine, also called botanical medicine or phytomedicine, refers to the use of a plant's seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes. Long practiced outside of conventional medicine, herbalism is becoming more mainstream." While there isn't a nationally recognized licensing program for herbalists, studying at an accredited school and gaining their certification will help you on your career path. Many herbalists practice under the supervision of a licensed physician or other health care provider.

Step 1

Decide what type of herbalist you would like to be. You can specialize in a variety of areas including home remedies, herb gardening, women's health, aromatherapy or herbal nutrition and eventually seek out a career as a practitioner, educator, researcher, writer, consultant, grower or retailer.

Step 2

Determine how much education you would like to pursue. Are you looking for a certificate program or a full degree? Many schools offer a variety of classes. Some schools offer classes by long distance learning, others offer on-site classes.

Step 3

Learn biology. Any herbalist will benefit greatly from a basic education in this life science. If there is not a herb program near you, you could take classes first at your local college or online in biology, botany and other sciences

Step 4

Study and read about herbs on your own to prepare you for your studies. The more you learn about herbs and their abilities, the more comfortable you will be talking about them and eventually using them. You might try to make up basic teas and other home remedies on your own.

Step 5

Consider an apprenticeship. Apprenticing with a well-practiced herbalist will give you the experience you need and the chance to get comfortable with clients without having to hang out a shingle.

Step 6

Join a trade association like the American Herbalists Guild. While there is not a federal or state government requirement for professional licensing, joining such a guild will give you the title of Registered Herbalist.

Tips and Warnings

  • Bear in mind that herbalists are not legally allowed to practice medicine, although there is no law prohibiting the distribution of herbs or educating people about them. As of 2009, expect to pay as little as $400 for a long-distance learning program to up to $14,000 a year for a full-time naturopathic medicine course.

References

  • The American Herbalists Guild Guide to Getting an Herbal Education

Who Can Help

  • The American Herbalists Guild
  • The American Botanical Council
Keywords: licensed herbalist, herbal certification, professional herbalist

About this Author

Michelle Hogan is a freelance writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has been published in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.