How to Earn Herbalist Certificates

Becoming a registered herbalist can prepare you to enter a unique field. Discover how to become a registered herbalist and what they make.
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Updated on April 19, 2023
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  • Online certificates in natural medicine and herbalism take weeks to complete.
  • Herbalists use teas, tinctures, and salves to treat and prevent ailments.
  • Herbal pharmacies, farms, natural food stores, and manufacturers hire registered herbalists.
  • Registered herbalists must meet educational and clinical requirements.

Do you have a calling to work in natural plant medicine? According to a 2020 study in Bioinformatics and Biology Insights, over $7 million dollars of herbal dietary supplements were sold in the U.S. in 2016.

The public often sees herbal and natural remedies as safer than prescription medications. However, while making and dispensing herbal medicine requires training, the field of herbalism remains unregulated by the government.

Because no licensing board or certifying agency oversees herbalism, practitioners with little education or training can work as herbalists. Herbalists show their commitment to ethical practice by gaining formal training through certificates, diplomas, and degrees.

Herbalists can also validate their expertise by registering with the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), a credential that requires clinical experience and herbal education.

Use this guide to find out about registered herbalist requirements, available herbalist jobs, and herbalist salary information.

What Are the Requirements for an Herbalist Certificate?

  • Register for AHG membership.
  • Finish 800 hours of herbal education.
  • Take courses that include basic human sciences, nutrition and medical terminology, materia medica, pharmacy and pharmacognosy, and botany and botanical research.
  • Complete 400 hours of clinical experience.
  • Submit letters of recommendation.
  • Take the AHG written exam.

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What Skills Will I Learn With an Herbalist Certificate?

  • Learn about plant properties used to treat and prevent illnesses.
  • Understand the history of plants and herbs, including the legislation that impacts them.
  • Gain hands-on skills by making and sampling herbal remedies.
  • Learn organic gardening techniques such as mulching, pruning, fertilizing, and planting.
  • Create a business plan and analyze case studies.
  • Gain sales knowledge about herbal retailers and farmers markets.

Is an Herbalist Certificate Worth It?

Herbalists do not need a license or certification to work. Becoming a registered herbalist through the AHG — a nonprofit founded in 1989 representing herbalists — can help these workers gain professional recognition. Registered herbalists have a certain level of expertise in the use of medicinal plants and herbs since they must meet educational and clinical practice hours set by the AHG.

Gaining a professional credential can help herbalists advance in their practices and gain the respect of clients and peers. Becoming a registered herbalist can afford professionals the credibility they need to assess and dispense herbal remedies.

Registered herbalists can also work in teaching, counseling, or other naturopathic medicine positions reserved for more experienced natural medicine practitioners.

What Jobs Can I Get With an Herbalist Certificate?

  • Small manufacturing companies: Herbalists work for companies that manufacture herbal and food products. These companies hire herbalists for sales manager, quality manager, and production supervisor positions. Manufacturing companies also need herbalists to work on their research and lab teams.
  • Growers: Herbalist growers work outside in the soil, harvesting and caring for plants. Unlike traditional fruit and vegetable farmers, commercial medicinal herb farms remain rare in the U.S. They grow medicinal herbs for the commercial market, including manufacturing companies, product lines, natural foods stores, and farmers markets.
  • Retail store owners: Herbalists can become business owners who own and operate apothecary shops. Store owners may sell their own product lines or stock their shelves with different brands of tinctures, teas, and herbs.
  • Consultants: Herbalist consultants work in acupuncture clinics, pharmacies, and retail stores. They understand how to prepare herbs and provide consultation to customers and companies about products.

How Much Money Can I Make With an Herbalist Certificate?

Herbalists have the opportunity for advancement with additional education, credentials, and experience. Pay for herbalists differs by field, position, and location. Herbalists made an average annual salary of $71,930 as of April 2022, according to ZipRecruiter. Like most other professionals, herbalists with more experience tend to make more money.

ZipRecruiter reports that those just entering the field earned about $28,500 a year. Experienced herbalists earned an annual average of $60,000.

Careers for herbalists include herbalists technicians who work in herbal pharmacies, business entrepreneurs, and organic farmers. Herbalists' salaries vary considerably depending on the industry they work in and their specific job.

Frequently Asked Questions About Herbalist Certificates

What qualifications do you need to become an herbalist?

No singular educational pathway leads to a career as an herbalist. Practicing herbal therapy does not require a certification or license. The industry also does not have universal educational or clinical requirements. Medicinal herb practitioners may have a high school education or a bachelor's degree in herbology. Many colleges also offer graduate degrees in integrative health that incorporate alternative medicines.

An educational program in herbalism teaches students about pharmacology, botany, nutrition, business, and biochemistry. Programs also require hands-on clinical experience. Getting registration through the AHG remains voluntary, but it can increase your credibility as an herbalist.

Regardless of an herbalist's educational background, most natural practitioners enjoy working with plants to create natural remedies.

How long does it take to become a certified herbalist?

Because the natural medicine industry remains unregulated, educational programs vary significantly. It could take 12 weeks or two years to become an herbalist. Some online programs may promise an herbalist education in days. The time commitment depends on the educational program.

A certificate in herbalism usually takes about 12 months. An associate degree or diploma could take up to two years to complete. Becoming a registered herbalist requires at least 400 hours of clinical experience and 800 hours of classroom experience.

Can you be a self-taught herbalist?

Yes. Herbalists do not need a certain level of education or credential to practice. Through research and hands-on experimentation, a self-taught herbalist can learn how to cultivate plants for healing purposes.

However, herbal remedies can be toxic if plants are inaccurately identified or prepared. Therefore, self-taught herbalists should thoroughly study their trade.

Self-taught herbalists can use peer-reviewed medical journals, videos, and mentors to learn medicinal remedies. International and national herbalist medicine conferences also offer the opportunity for self-taught herbalists to learn from others and keep up-to-date with industry practices.

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