Becoming a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor


Average salary for full-time NDs in the U.S. is $80,000-$150,000.


Employment rate within six months of graduation from an accredited college.


NDs who pursue careers in solo practice.


U.S. states and territories offering licensure.

Source: Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) 2020 Graduate Success and Compensation Study (United States Full-Time Salary).

How to Become an ND: Education and Licensure

Education Requirements
Naturopathic Residency
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Education Requirements

To become a licensed ND who diagnoses and treats patients, you must complete a four-year, graduate-level program consisting of a minimum of 4,100 hours of class and clinical training at an accredited naturopathic medical school. Hands-on, clinical study is an essential element of education for ND students, therefore, the accrediting body for naturopathic medical colleges does not recognize online degrees.

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The Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) are administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners, an independent organization. Students take a basic sciences exam after their second year and a clinical skills exam after receiving their degree. Graduates who pass both portions of the NPLEX can become licensed as naturopathic doctors (NDs) in applicable states and provinces.

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Naturopathic doctors are licensed or registered as health care providers in 26 states and territories, including the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, while legal provisions allow for the practice of naturopathic medicine in several other states. In Canada, NDs are recognized in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan.

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Naturopathic Residency

Except in Utah, residencies are not required for licensure and practice. However, many NDs elect to complete residencies for one to three years before starting solo or group practice. Post-graduate residencies are provided by AANMC sponsor schools that must meet stringent requirements, which can be found in the CNME Handbook of Accreditation for Naturopathic Medicine Programs.

Top Three Things to Look For in an ND Program

Determining which school or ND program is the best fit for you will ultimately come down to your personal goals and preferences. However, not all naturopathic education programs are created equal — here are some important factors to consider when choosing a high-quality ND program.

Graduation from a program accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) is required to become a licensed naturopathic doctor. The CNME is the only agency recognized by the United States Department of Education to accredit ND programs.


Where you learn can be just as important as what you learn. Because accredited ND programs are not offered online, location should play a role in your decision to pursue an ND. Luckily, CNME-accredited programs are located throughout the U.S. and Canada, which means you may not need to move to attend a program.

However, if you must relocate to attend an accredited naturopathic medical college, take some time to consider the cultural environment of each school, its city, and how it will fit into or change your lifestyle.

Learning Opportunities

High-quality ND programs should provide students with ample opportunities to participate in practical, lab-based study, collaborative practice, integrative medicine, and supervised clinical experience.

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