Becoming a Licensed Acupuncturist

Albert Vaca, L.Ac. has been practicing acupuncture for 13 years and he is the principal acupuncturist at the Tao of Wellness Pasadena clinic. He also co-authored BACK to Pain-Free Health book along with Dr. Mao Shing Ni. Albert graduated from Yo San University in 2006.

The acupuncture profession has grown significantly over the past 30 years. With the increasing integration of acupuncture practices into the US healthcare system, more healthcare institutions across the country are offering acupuncture services to the public. The number of licensed acupuncturists and accredited acupuncture colleges in the US has also increased several folds as the demand for acupuncture services continues to grow.

Currently, acupuncture is regulated in 47 of the 50 states in the US. ( While licensure requirements are unique for each state, they share a common requirement of graduating from an approved/accredited program in Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine (AOM). There are currently over 60 accredited AOM programs in this country. (

Becoming a licensed acupuncturist in California

As the state with the largest number of acupuncturists in this country, individuals wishing to practice acupuncture in California must first obtain a state license, which requires qualifying for and passing the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE) administered by the California Acupuncture Board (CAB).

To qualify for the CALE, you must first enroll in and graduate from a CAB-approved training program. A list of approved training programs can found on the CAB website (

On passing the CALE, and clearing the pertinent background checks with CAB, you will be issued with a license to practice acupuncture in the state of California. The license must be renewed every two years to remain active and in good standing.

California does not recognize out-of-state licensing for practice in this state. Licensees from out-of-state may not practice in California until they have taken and passed the CALE and received their California license.

To become a licensed acupuncturist in California, you must follow the steps outlined by the California Acupuncture Board (CAB). Here is a summary of the process:

  1. Meet the educational requirements: You must complete a full-time acupuncture program or its equivalent at a school accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).
  2. Apply for a California Acupuncture License: Once you have completed your education you can apply for a California Acupuncture License through the CAB. This process includes submitting an application, paying a fee, and completing a background check.
  3. Renew your license: California acupuncture licenses must be renewed every two years. To renew your license, you must complete continuing education requirements and pay a renewal fee.

The Masters of Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine (MATCM) at Yo San University has enjoyed 30 years of continuous accreditation/approval since the inception of the University in 1989, and have nurtured and trained hundreds of successful acupuncture in the past three decades.

Becoming a licensed acupuncturist outside California

Licensure requirements are different for each state. You are strongly advised to contact the appropriate licensing/regulatory agency in your state to find out more about licensing requirements.

Most states will require potential licensees to graduate from an accredited AOM program, followed by passing the appropriate certification examination administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), along with meeting specific licensing requirements which may differ by state.

While passing the relevant NCCAOM certification exam(s) is an indicator of meeting the required professional competencies, it does not entitle you to practice acupuncture in any state. A formal state licensure is required.

The MATCM program at Yo San University provides an extensive curriculum and clinical training that meets the requirements of all NCCAOM certification exams, and prepares you for these certification exams and eventual licensure in states outside California.