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Holistic Health Professions

Going beyond the classroom

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Holistic Health Professions

Passionate about natural health? Love working with people? You may be the perfect fit for a career in natural health.

If you’re thinking of a career change, natural health care offers many options. This industry is rapidly growing as more people consider natural practices vital to their health. Demand is also increasing for professionals in this field—which is good news if you’re interested in natural health and would like a rewarding new career.

Natural health careers 101

Among many, here are five natural health professions you might want to consider. Short-term courses are often offered in these and related fields. If you’re serious, though, you may want to commit to putting in the proper training time and expense necessary to receive an accredited certification, approved by a recognized professional association. Official accreditation titles may vary, depending on the granting institution and the province; it’s up to you to decide which accreditation will most suit your professional needs.

The sample programs described here resemble those from training institutes that are established in their fields. There are plenty of reputable schools that offer natural health programs—just make sure you do thorough research before deciding where to undertake your studies.

Aromatherapist

Sample job description

You’ll be using essential oils that you’ve selected and blended to help improve clients’ emotional well-being and aid in reducing symptoms of ill health. Possible areas of employment include retail, product development, custom blending, and consultation.

Personality required

You should be able to understand human biology and anatomy and to remember properties and chemistry of a large number of essential oils. You are a good communicator and listener who can empathize with clients and gain their trust.

Example of training

To become a certified registered aromatherapist and essential oil therapist, possible programs may include distance education courses totalling approximately 600 hours of schooling. Besides learning about essential oil history, uses, and treatments, business practice may also be covered.

Benefits and rewards

You’ll be working at a job that emphasizes natural health care and products. There is also a wide range of potential careers connected with aromatherapy, from consultant to health care practitioner. Integration with other practices such as massage and integrative medicine is also possible.

Herbalist

Sample job description

As a fully qualified herbalist, you will assess patients and recommend certain herbs to treat conditions ranging from arthritis to skin disorders to stomach ailments. You may also cultivate and sell herbal compounds. After taking basic levels of training, you can work where herbs are sold, such as at herbal shops and health food stores, or in direct marketing. With more education, you can work in a clinical setting or as an instructor, medicine maker, or industry consultant.

Personality required

You care about people and want to help them using herbs and herbal compounds. You’re interested in healing and nature, as well as connecting with plants to understand their therapeutic values.

Example of training

Various programs to become a herbalist are offered at different institutions in Canada. A program that offers several levels might look something like this:

  • one year (600 hours of distance learning) to become a chartered herbalist
  • after completing the chartered herbalist program, one year (600 hours of distance learning) to become a master herbalist
  • after completing the chartered herbalist program, one year (1,320 hours of distance learning) to become a herbal consultant
  • four years of distance learning, plus 510 hours of supervised clinical training to become a clinical herbalist

Benefits and rewards

The knowledge that comes with being a herbalist can complement your current profession, enhance job opportunities, and aid in taking better care of personal and family health.

Holistic nutritionist

Sample job description

You’ll be educating individuals and groups about the benefits and health impact of optimal nutrition. Working with clients, you’ll help identify and correct nutrition-based conditions by designing personal diet and lifestyle programs.

Personality required

Nonjudgmental and responsible, you are interested in the well-being of your clients. You are diplomatic, respect clients’ confidentiality, and have the ability to guide and counsel.

Example of training

To become a registered holistic nutritionist, one national Canadian institution allows for distance learning over a maximum of 72 weeks (depending on courses and programs) and includes intensive courses and rigorous testing. Another requires approximately 632 hours of classroom instruction, clinical studies, and supervised practicums, as well as 550 hours for study, class preparation, and assignments over one to two years.

Benefits and rewards

Holistic nutritionists have the opportunity to establish successful careers in many areas. You can work in private practice or with other health care professionals, as well as in a wide variety of sectors ranging from the food industry and wellness centres to teaching and education.

Massage therapist

Sample job description

You’ll be manipulating the muscles and soft tissues of the body to help relieve clients’ stress, tension, and pain. In addition to aiding relaxation, you’ll help reduce the effects of sports injuries and long-term health conditions.

Personality required

You have high standards of cleanliness and physical stamina. You are empathetic with people and have effective communication skills.

Example of training

Training to become a registered massage therapist may entail more than 2,000 hours of schooling in subjects such as anatomy, neurology, kinesiology, and remedial exercise. Students may also practise hands-on in a student clinic and learn skills to establish their own businesses.

Benefits and rewards

You can help people in a meaningful way using a high degree of personal contact. You can express caring and promote well-being in your work, which can be personally and professionally rewarding. Flexibility is also appealing in terms of work hours, independence, and choice of practice locations.

Yoga teacher

Sample job description

You’ll teach this ancient practice, which aims to balance mind and body through exercise, breathing, and meditation, to students for increased fitness and well-being.

Personality required

You are interested in health and exercise, possess thorough anatomical knowledge, and have advanced ability in, and understanding, of yoga. You’re an empathetic, skilled communicator who can motivate individuals and groups.

Example of training

There are many different styles of yoga, programs, and certifications to become an instructor. Yoga teacher training programs often consist of at least 200 hours of schooling, which may include online and live-in components. Online modules may be incorporated with faculty interactions, followed by live-in programs that offer intensive opportunities for growth.

Benefits and rewards

A yoga teacher experiences the gift of seeing others find peace and happiness in their lives as they improve, according to Premal J. Lemon, who instructs yoga and meditation in Kelowna, BC. “We’re also students and end up learning from our own students as well as from our practice.”

Selected professional associations

ProfessionAssociationContact information
aromatherapistCanadian Federation of Aromatherapistscfacanada.com; 519-746-1594
herbalistCanadian Council of Herbalist Associationsherbalccha.org
holistic nutritionistCanadian Association of Natural Nutrition Practitioners
International Organization of Nutritional Consultants
cannp.ca; 519-787-2667
ionc.org; 1-866-540-1114
massage therapistCanadian Massage Therapy Alliancecrmta.ca; 306-384-7077
yoga instructorCanadian Yoga Alliancecanadianyogicalliance.com; 1-888-571-1172
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