Suzanne, Private Naturopathy Practitioner
What does a naturopath do?
Being a naturopath is like being a lifestyle coach in that you help people improve their lives by encouraging them to alter things such as their exercise or diet. You're helping people to get everything working for themselves instead of against themselves.
It's also an occupation that melds nicely with other things: "There are a number of people who combine naturopathy really well with tactile therapies such as massage, yoga or shiatsu."
What are some of the pros and cons?
If you're considering a career in naturopathy, be prepared to do a lot of self-marketing, warns Suzanne, a part-time naturopath in a home-based private practice: "The majority of naturopaths work for themselves, and it can be pretty hard going building up a client base, especially if you want to make a living out of it. They say it can take around five years until you get a client base big enough to sustain an income."
So, before you can actually practice as a naturopath, you've got to be able to drum up the business for yourself! "And you'll need all the administration skills that are required to run any small business," adds Suzanne.
However, once you've established a good client base, there is much that is enjoyable about the job: "I like the challenge of the detective work - diagnosing problems and making sense of discrepant information. I love meeting people and finding out how they cope with the stresses of modern life."
Suzanne adds, "I really enjoy being able to promote positive change."
What sort of skills and experience do you need?
For those interested in a career in naturopathy, Suzanne says that you will need both science and people skills: "Naturopathy is becoming very scientific these days, and the course covers anatomy and physiology as well as nutrition and herbal medicine, so studying quite a bit of science in high school will help."
As a naturopath, you'll also need to be a lateral thinker, an empathic listener and a sensitive practitioner.
Suzanne also recommends getting some life experience behind you before embarking on this career path: "This was a second career for me, and there are quite a few mature age students studying naturopathy. However, that's not to say that young people don't make good naturopaths."
A little more encouraging, Suzanne comments that naturopathy is a growing industry: "While there are still some people who feel it's all 'hocus-pocus', there's an increasing number of people who are interested in seeing a naturopath."
Any advice for new players?
Finally, Suzanne advises, "Naturopathy is a profession for people who want to build things up for themselves. If you are genuinely interested in the work and not deterred by the self-promotion aspect, you'll find it a rewarding career."
"However, the course is tough and there's a lot of competition, so you need to know that it's what you want to be doing."
Find out more about a career as a naturopath
Visit the MyFuture website to find more about duties and tasks, work conditions, earnings and required qualifications for a career as a naturopath.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).