How to Become an Herbalist

How to Become an Herbalist

Are you a nature enthusiast who has a deep appreciation for the healing powers of plants? Do you dream of working with herbs to promote health and well-being? If so, becoming an herbalist might be the right path for you. Herbalism is an ancient practice that combines the science of botany with the art of using medicinal plants to create natural remedies. In this step-by-step guide, we will explore the educational and professional journey that aspiring herbalists should embark on to turn their passion for herbs into a fulfilling career.

First and foremost, education is key when it comes to becoming an herbalist. While there is no formal licensing requirement for herbalists in most states, obtaining a solid foundation of knowledge is crucial to ensure the safety and effectiveness of your herbal creations. One option is to enroll in a reputable postsecondary school that offers programs in herbalism or botanical medicine. These programs often cover a wide range of topics, including herbal pharmacology, botany, and the proper use of medicinal plants.

While formal education is helpful, it is not the only way to learn about herbalism. There are many other resources available to budding herbalists, such as books, conferences, and workshops. Building your own herbal library with textbooks and reference guides can provide you with a wealth of information to deepen your understanding of herbs. Attending conferences and joining herbal guilds or organizations can also be beneficial, as they offer opportunities to meet and learn from experienced herbalists.

In addition to education, hands-on experience is essential for aspiring herbalists. Working with herbs in a practical setting allows you to develop the skills necessary to identify, harvest, and prepare medicinal plants. Consider volunteering at a local herb farm or botanical garden to gain valuable experience in the field. You can also seek mentorship from an experienced herbalist who can guide you in honing your skills and provide valuable insights into the world of herbalism.

Once you have acquired the necessary knowledge and experience, it is important to consider certification. While not mandatory, obtaining certification can lend credibility to your practice and demonstrate your commitment to professionalism and ethical standards. There are several organizations that offer certification for herbalists, such as the American Herbalists Guild and the National Association of Herbalists. These organizations usually require applicants to meet certain criteria, such as completing a specified number of hours of herbal education and passing an examination.

Research and Learn About Herbalism

Before embarking on the path to becoming an herbalist, it is important to thoroughly research and learn about herbalism. This will provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding that will be essential throughout your herbalist journey.

Start by visiting your local library or bookstore to find books on herbalism. There are many excellent resources available that cover a wide range of topics, from the history of herbalism to specific herbal remedies for common ailments. Some popular books include “The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook” by James Green and “The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat” by Juliette de Bairacli Levy.

In addition to books, there are also numerous online resources and websites dedicated to herbalism. These websites often provide valuable information, articles, and even online courses that can further expand your knowledge. Some reputable websites include the American Herbalists Guild, HerbMentor, and HerbMentor Radio.

Another great way to learn about herbalism is to join herbalism communities or forums. These communities are filled with seasoned herbalists who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences. They can provide guidance and answer any questions you may have about herbalism.

As you research and learn about herbalism, you’ll discover that there are many different traditions and approaches to herbal medicine. Some herbalists focus on traditional Western herbalism, while others may specialize in Chinese or Ayurvedic herbalism. It’s important to explore these different traditions and find one that resonates with you and your personality.

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Once you have a good understanding of herbalism, you can start experimenting with herbs and herbal remedies in your own life. This can include incorporating herbal teas, tinctures, or even herbal foods into your daily routine. By doing this, you’ll not only deepen your knowledge of herbs but also experience their healing properties firsthand.

Remember, becoming an herbalist is a lifelong journey of learning and growth. It’s important to stay curious, open-minded, and willing to continue your education. By constantly expanding your knowledge and skills, you’ll be able to provide the best possible care for your future clients and contribute to the field of herbalism.

Enroll in an Herbalism Program or Course

When you’re first starting out as a budding herbalist, it’s important to learn as much as you can about herbalism. One of the best ways to do this is by enrolling in an herbalism program or course. These programs are designed to provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to become a professional herbalist.

There are many educational institutions and organizations that offer herbalism programs and courses. Some of these programs are postsecondary and may offer a certificate or degree upon completion. Others may be shorter, more focused courses that provide specialized training in certain aspects of herbalism.

When choosing an herbalism program or course, it’s important to consider your own personal goals and interests. Some programs may focus on traditional herbal medicine, while others may emphasize the use of herbs in conjunction with other natural therapies. You may also want to consider the specific herbs or types of herbal medicine that you are most interested in learning about.

There are also professional organizations, such as the American Herbalists Guild, that offer resources and support for herbalists. These organizations often hold conferences and workshops where you can learn from experienced herbalists and network with others in the field. Attending these events can help you gain valuable knowledge and skills, as well as help you build connections within the herbalism community.

Overall, enrolling in an herbalism program or course is a crucial step in your journey to becoming an herbalist. It will provide you with the educational foundation and practical skills you need to confidently practice herbal medicine and help others on their path to wellness.

Gaining Practical Experience Through Internships or Apprenticeships

Once you have completed your herbalism program or course and have a solid foundation of knowledge, it is important to gain practical experience in the field. This can be done through internships or apprenticeships with experienced herbalists.

Working under the guidance of a seasoned herbalist will provide you with hands-on experience and the opportunity to apply the knowledge you have learned in a real-world setting. It is during this time that you will have the chance to work with clients, learn about different plants and their medicinal properties, and develop your skills as an herbalist.

Why Internships or Apprenticeships are Important

Internships and apprenticeships offer a unique learning experience that cannot be obtained solely through books or classroom instruction. By working closely with an experienced herbalist, you will gain insights and practical skills that will enhance your understanding of herbalism.

During an internship or apprenticeship, you may have the opportunity to work in an herbal garden, where you will learn how to grow and care for medicinal plants. You may also assist in the processing and preparation of herbs, gaining valuable knowledge about the proper techniques for extracting and preserving their medicinal properties.

How to Find Internships or Apprenticeships

There are several ways to find internships or apprenticeships in herbalism. One option is to reach out to local herbalists or herbal businesses in your area and inquire about any opportunities they may have available. You can also check with your herbalism program or course instructor, as they may have connections or recommendations.

Another valuable resource is the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), which provides a directory of herbalists and herbal businesses that offer internships or apprenticeships. The AHG website also offers additional information and resources for aspiring herbalists.

Lastly, consider joining online forums or communities dedicated to herbalism, such as HerbMentor or the Herbal Academy, where you can connect with other herbalists and find out about potential internship or apprenticeship opportunities.

Additional Considerations

It is important to note that internships and apprenticeships may have specific requirements or expectations. Some herbalists may require a certain level of education or training before accepting an intern or apprentice. Others may have specific time commitments or fees associated with their programs.

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Before applying for an internship or apprenticeship, take the time to research and understand the requirements and expectations of the program. This will ensure that you are the right fit for the opportunity and that you can meet the commitments and responsibilities that come with it.

Remember, gaining practical experience through internships or apprenticeships is an essential step in becoming a successful herbalist. It allows you to learn from experienced practitioners, apply your knowledge in real-life situations, and develop the skills necessary to provide herbal consultations and treatments to clients.

Obtain Certification and Continuing Education

Once you have completed an herbalism program or course and gained practical experience, it is important to obtain certification and continue your education in order to further enhance your skills and knowledge as an herbalist.

There are various organizations and educational institutions that offer certification programs for herbalists. These programs typically require you to pass an examination to demonstrate your understanding of herbal medicine and its applications. Some organizations also require you to complete a certain number of continuing education hours to maintain your certification.

One reputable organization that offers certification for herbalists is the American Herbalists Guild (AHG). Becoming a member of AHG not only provides you with access to a network of herbalists and resources, but it also allows you to use the designation Registered Herbalist (RH) after your name, which can help establish your credibility and expertise in the field.

Continuing education is essential for herbalists to stay updated with the latest research, practices, and developments in the field. This can be done through attending workshops, conferences, and seminars, as well as through self-study and reading scientific literature.

There are also online platforms and educational websites, such as HerbMentor and The Herbal Academy, that offer courses and resources for herbalists to further their education. These platforms provide a wide range of topics, from botany and plant identification to herbal preparations and clinical applications.

By obtaining certification and continuing your education, you can ensure that you are staying current with the latest advancements in herbal medicine and providing the best possible care for your clients. It also allows you to specialize in specific areas of herbalism that interest you, such as botanical medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, or Ayurveda.

Remember, herbalism is a lifelong journey of learning and exploration. By staying dedicated to your education and continuously expanding your knowledge, you can become a highly skilled and knowledgeable herbalist who can make a positive impact on the health and well-being of others.

What Can I Do as an Herbalist?

As an herbalist, you have a variety of career paths and opportunities available to you. The field of herbology is gaining momentum as more people turn to natural remedies and alternative medicine for their health needs. Whether you choose to work independently or within a healthcare setting, there are several options to consider.

Herbal Consultations and Treatments

One of the main roles of an herbalist is to provide consultations and treatments to clients. This involves assessing their health concerns, recommending appropriate herbs and herbal remedies, and creating personalized treatment plans. You may work with clients on a one-on-one basis or in group settings.

During consultations, you’ll need to have a deep understanding of different herbs and their properties, as well as knowledge of how they can be combined to address specific health issues. You’ll also need to be able to communicate effectively with clients, listening to their concerns and providing clear explanations of the treatment options available to them.

Herbal Education and Promotion

Another avenue you can explore as an herbalist is education and promotion. You can teach workshops, classes, or seminars to educate others about the benefits of herbal medicine. This can be done in a variety of settings, such as community centers, schools, or even online.

Research and Development

If you have a passion for scientific research, you can choose to focus on herbal research and development. This involves studying the effectiveness and safety of different herbs, conducting clinical trials, and exploring new applications for herbal medicine.

By contributing to the scientific understanding of herbal medicine, you can help to further legitimize the field and promote its integration into mainstream healthcare. This path requires strong research skills, attention to detail, and a commitment to advancing the field of herbalism.

Working Within Healthcare Settings

Many herbalists choose to work within healthcare settings, such as integrative clinics, wellness centers, or naturopathic practices. In these settings, you may collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and naturopaths, to provide holistic care to patients.

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Working within a healthcare setting can provide you with valuable experience and the opportunity to learn from other practitioners. It can also help you build a network of professional connections that can support your career growth.

Starting Your Own Herbal Business

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you may choose to start your own herbal business. This can involve creating and selling your own herbal products, such as tinctures, teas, or salves. You can also offer herbal consultations and treatments as part of your business.

Starting your own business requires a combination of herbal knowledge, business skills, and marketing savvy. You’ll need to navigate the legal and regulatory requirements for selling herbal products, such as obtaining the necessary permits and certifications.

Whether you choose to work independently or within a healthcare setting, becoming a certified herbalist can open up a world of opportunities. The skills and knowledge you’ll gain through studying and learning about herbalism will set you on a path to success within the field. With dedication, passion, and a commitment to ongoing learning, you can make a meaningful impact on the health and well-being of others as an herbalist.

Provide Herbal Consultations and Treatments

Once you have obtained your certificate or completed a postsecondary program in herbalism, you can start working as a professional herbalist. There are several paths you can choose to follow in this field.

Join a Reputable Herbal Apothecary

One common option is to join a reputable herbal apothecary or natural medicine clinic. Working in a professional setting will allow you to meet clients and provide them with herbal consultations and treatments. You will have the opportunity to apply your knowledge of herbs and botanical medicines to create personalized treatment plans for your clients.

Start Your Own Herbal Consultation Practice

If you have a dream of running your own herbal consultation practice, you can choose to become a self-employed herbalist. This will give you the freedom to set your own schedule and work with clients on a one-on-one basis. You can offer a range of services, such as herbal consultations, custom tinctures, and herbal product creations.

Work with Naturopaths or Other Healthcare Professionals

Another option is to collaborate with naturopaths or other healthcare professionals. Many naturopaths incorporate herbal medicine into their practice, and they may need the expertise of a professional herbalist to assist them in providing comprehensive care to their patients. This can be a great opportunity to work in a team and learn from other healthcare professionals.

Provide Online Herbal Consultations

In today’s digital world, providing online herbal consultations is becoming more common. You can offer virtual consultations to clients worldwide, allowing you to reach a larger audience and expand your client base. This can be a convenient option for both you and your clients, as it eliminates the need for in-person meetings.

Work in a Spa or Wellness Center

Many spas and wellness centers now offer herbal treatments as part of their services. You can explore opportunities to work in these settings and provide herbal consultations and treatments to clients seeking natural and holistic wellness options.

No matter which path you choose, it’s important to continue learning and staying up-to-date with the latest research and developments in the field of herbalism. Additional certifications and continuing education can help you enhance your skills and stay competitive in the industry.


What is herbalism?

Herbalism is the practice of using plants and plant extracts for medicinal purposes. It is an ancient healing tradition that has been used by various cultures around the world.

Why would someone want to become an herbalist?

There are several reasons why someone would want to become an herbalist. Some people are interested in natural healing methods and want to help others improve their health. Others may have personal experiences with herbal remedies and want to learn more about them. Additionally, some individuals may be interested in pursuing a career in alternative medicine.

What are the steps to becoming an herbalist?

The steps to becoming an herbalist may vary depending on the individual’s location and the specific requirements of their chosen path. However, a general guide would include: 1) Researching and understanding the field of herbalism, 2) Taking courses or obtaining a degree in herbal medicine, 3) Gaining practical experience through apprenticeships or internships, 4) Obtaining any necessary certifications or licenses, and 5) Continuing education and staying updated on the latest developments in herbal medicine.

What are some common career paths for herbalists?

There are several career paths that herbalists can pursue. Some may choose to open their own herbal medicine practice, offering consultations and creating personalized herbal remedies for clients. Others may work in wellness centers, spas, or natural health stores. Additionally, herbalists can become educators, teaching courses or workshops on herbal medicine. Some herbalists also choose to specialize in specific areas, such as herbal skincare or women’s health.

What qualifications are needed to become a professional herbalist?

The qualifications needed to become a professional herbalist can vary depending on the country or state. In some places, there may be specific certifications or licenses required. However, in general, herbalists should have a strong knowledge of plants and their medicinal properties, as well as an understanding of human anatomy and physiology. Many herbalists also choose to pursue formal education in herbal medicine through accredited programs or institutions.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.