You'll need an interest in complementary medicine, excellent communication and listening skills, and a good head for business for a successful career as a homeopath

Homeopathy is a branch of complementary and alternative medicine and is based on the principle of treating 'like with like'. As a homeopath, you'll use substances that cause illnesses when taken in large doses in small, highly diluted amounts to relieve similar symptoms. Remedies are usually given in tablet, powder or liquid form.

You will take a holistic approach to your patients, looking at the underlying causes of the illness and not just the symptoms, and will address a range of physical, emotional and psychological conditions.

Responsibilities

As a homeopath, you'll need to:

  • carry out initial consultations with patients to get a detailed case history from them;
  • use homeopathic remedies on a range of conditions, for example arthritis, eczema, depresion and phobias
  • monitor and evaluate patient progress
  • instruct patients about the use and effects of particular remedies and respond to any queries they may have
  • advise on lifestyle issues, such as diet, exercise and mental health
  • refer patients to other health practitioners, as appropriate
  • keep detailed clinical notes and records for each patient;
  • research medical conditions and homeopathic remedies
  • run seminars and presentations for groups in the community, or for other health practitioners, to promote homeopathy.

As most homeopaths are self-employed, you'll also need to carry out activities related to running a business.

Salary

Most homeopaths are self-employed so your income will depend on factors such as the price you charge per hour, the number of patients you attract and your running costs and overheads.

  • You're likely to charge around £35 to £100 for an initial consultation, with the cost of any medicines you provide on top of this. Follow up sessions are typically half the cost as they're shorter.
  • Your income on starting out may be very low due to the initial costs of setting up a business and the limited number of patients.

Fees charged will vary depending on a variety of factors, including your location. Fees in London tend to be higher than elsewhere.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are mainly 9am to 5pm, although you may have to be flexible to suit your clients' needs. For example, you may choose to work some evenings or weekends.

Initial consultations will usually take between one and two hours with follow-up consultations lasting between 20 and 45 minutes.

What to expect

  • You may need to have an additional job in the early stages of setting up a practice, until your client base becomes large enough to sustain a regular income. The time taken to build up a practice varies as you'll need to assess the local market and raise awareness of your services.
  • Work is done on a one-to-one basis and can take place in your own home, from an alternative therapy clinic or sometimes in a GP's practice.
  • Jobs are available in most areas of the UK and it's possible to set up a practice virtually anywhere.
  • You're not likely to spend much time travelling or staying away overnight, although you may travel locally, for example if you're working from several locations.
  • There may be opportunities to work abroad in countries such as India. If you want to work abroad, check local regulations as in some countries only medically-qualified homeopaths can practise legally.

Qualifications

Although there's currently no legal regulation of homeopaths in the UK, it's recommended that you take a course recognised by one of the professional bodies, for example the Society of Homeopaths.

Professional training courses are at undergraduate degree-level and focus on excellence in training, safe practice and professional conduct. Most courses are part time and you'll usually attend college one weekend a month. Learning will often take the form of lectures and tutorials, distance, blended and online learning, as well as supervised clinical practice. Courses usually take three to four years to complete.

Do your research to make sure the course suits your particular career interests and needs as each course will offer a different approach and focus. See the Society of Homeopaths' website for a list of recognised courses.

One-day beginners' courses providing an introduction to homeopathy are also available. If you're not sure you want to commit to training to become a practitioner, one-year foundation courses are also offered, with the option of transferring on to the second year of the professional training course.

Statutorily regulated healthcare professionals, such as doctors, dentists, nurses or vets, who want to integrate homeopathy with their conventional healthcare practice can take a qualification in homeopathy through the Faculty of Homeopathy. There are three types of training:

  • Foundation (LFHom) – for healthcare professionals wanting to understand the basic principles of homeopathy
  • Diploma Level (DFHom) – available to pharmacists and podiatrists
  • MFHom – advanced-level training.

Courses are taught at a number of locations in the UK and overseas.

Once qualified, it's recommended that you register with one of the main registering bodies:

Skills

You will need to have:

  • well-developed interpersonal, communication and listening skills for case-taking and patient management
  • an open, non-judgemental approach and the ability to gain the trust of patients
  • sensitivity, maturity and resilience to cope with the emotional demands of patient consultations
  • an analytical approach combined with creativity and intuition for choosing the appropriate remedy
  • in-depth knowledge of remedies, and an understanding of disease processes
  • the ability and confidence to promote and run your own practice.

Work experience

It's a good idea to attend open days and talk to current students to help inform your decision about starting a career in homeopathy. You could also ask to sit in with a homeopath during patient consultations to gain an insight into the role. Contact the main homeopathic bodies or individual homeopaths to arrange a visit.

Experience of working with people, possibly in a related field such as homeopathic pharmacy, and recent biological study can also be helpful.

Employers

The vast majority of homeopaths in the UK are self-employed, working in private practices based in the community often alongside other complementary therapists. You might also work:

  • independently from home
  • in a clinic dedicated to homeopathy
  • in group practices, possibly from several bases.

Although not common, it may be possible for experienced practitioners to work as sessional therapists within the NHS. However, homeopathy isn't available via the NHS throughout the UK and these opportunities are few and far between.

As most homeopaths are self-employed, jobs aren't generally advertised. It's down to you to publicise your services and to attract new clients through talks and presentations, your website, social media and by word of mouth. You can also advertise your services via the registers of the main registering bodies.

Professional development

Keeping up to date with developments in homeopathic remedies and research is essential and continuing professional development (CPD) is vital. You can find out about relevant events and conferences via the professional associations.

Networking plays an important part in developing your practice and membership of one or more of the professional bodies can be useful for making contacts and exchanging ideas. There may also be opportunities to get involved in homeopathic research. Post-qualification training is available from some of the colleges offering undergraduate professional training and some courses lead to a postgraduate diploma or award.

If you're a statutorily regulated healthcare professional, you can become a member of the Faculty of Homeopath,y by passing their membership examination. Members can use the letters MFHom or VetMFHom after their name. Doctors who have achieved MFHom can apply for higher specialist training and gain specialist registration.

You may also want to take business-related courses in areas such as marketing and finance. For more information on setting up a business, see self-employment.

Career prospects

Learning to manage a practice takes time and you must be committed to developing a role in which, for the short and medium term, salary levels and numbers of clients may be low. Success depends on your ability to establish and build your reputation, which in turn depends largely on the amount of effort you put into building and marketing your business.

Once established, you may decide to train in other alternative therapies to complement your homeopathic practice. These may include kinesiology, acupuncture, herbalism, reflexology and flower essences.

With experience, you may find teaching opportunities at one of the colleges offering homeopathic courses or complementary therapy courses offering modules in homeopathy.

There are also some opportunities to get involved in research or journalism in the homeopathic field, or to help in the manufacture of homeopathic products.