General – Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: Why do I need NCCAOM Certification?

A: NCCAOM certification is the only nationally recognized certification available to qualified practitioners of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. NCCAOM certification is a requirement for licensure in most states. Many third-party payers recognize NCCAOM certification as a criterion for reimbursement. Employers may require NCCAOM certification as a condition for hiring or promotion. NCCAOM certification indicates to your patients and peers that you adhere to nationally accepted standards of practice.

Q: What is the difference between State Licensure and NCCAOM Certification?

A: The NCCAOM is a private, voluntary certification organization. It awards certification in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology and Oriental Medicine. It does not award licenses to practice acupuncture or other forms of Oriental medicine. In the United States, licensure laws vary among the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and United States territories and possessions. Currently, NCCAOM certification or the passage of the NCCAOM exams is required in 98% of the states that regulate the practice of acupuncture. Please visit the State Licensure Map page of the website for more information on state licensure requirements.

Q: What are the fees for certification?

A: Please refer to the NCCAOM Fees page or reference the NCCAOM® Certification Handbook for details.

Q: When can I apply?

A: For students educated in the United States, you may submit an application usually in the third or last year of your studies (please check with your school’s registrar for additional information regarding when to apply). Students educated outside the United States, must apply after a Foreign Education Evaluation has been completed by either American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) or World Education Services (WES). Please visit the Education Outside of the United States section of the web page. All applications are good for four years so it is advised that applications be submitted near or after graduation.

Q: Can I just take the exams?

A: No. You must meet eligibility requirements in order to be approved to take the exam(s). Submission of an application is a prerequisite in order to review your eligibility.

Q: How do I prepare for exams?

A: NCCAOM provides a comprehensive Study Guide for each certification program and Suggested Study Tips and Strategies for candidates preparing to take the NCCAOM exam(s). In addition, each content outline is offered in English, Chinese and Korean separately for those who would like to go directly to the individual exam content. NCCAOM also offers online practice tests for a small fee, which are designed to demonstrate the types of questions that are included in the exam but do not reflect the current exam content outlines. The practice tests are a great opportunity for candidates to become familiar with the NCCAOM examination format and to adjust to computerized testing. Performance on the practice tests is not necessarily an indicator for performance on the actual exam.

Q: I’m having technical difficulties with the online practice test. Who do I call?

A: You may call NCCAOM’s testing vendor – ITS, Inc. at 410-889-2200 for issues such as logins and payments.


Q: I am not listed on the NCCAOM’s Find a Practitioner Directory. How do I get listed?

A: You can log in to your NCCAOM account by going to and clicking the login button in the upper right hand corner of the page. Only Certified and Recertified Active Diplomates are listed in the Find a Practitioner Directory.

Q: When does my certification expire?

A: Certification is good for four years. Please refer to your wall certificate or ID card for the exact certification expiration date.

Q: How do I recertify?

A: Demonstrating continued competencies is a requirement for maintaining NCCAOM certification. Please download the Recertification Handbook for details and to apply for recertification. Don’t forget to visit the PDA Search Engine on the NCCAOM website.

Q: I am moving to a different state. How does it affect my certification and what do I need to do to practice in that state?

A: NCCAOM certification is nationally recognized and portability is one of the many benefits of maintaining an active certification; however, since state licensure requirements differ from state to state, it is advised that you check with the state regulatory board governing the practice of acupuncture. The NCCAOM provides the NCCAOM State Licensure Requirements table on our website. The table contains state contact information, and an overview of which states require NCCAOM exams or certification as a prerequisite to licensure.

Q: How do I request/submit a name change?

A: To ensure that all records are maintained accurately, requests for a name change must be submitted in writing with an attached copy of a government issued document (e.g., marriage certification, divorce papers) clearly identifying the name change and a photo copy of a current ID with the new identification.

Q: How do I request additional ID card or wall certificate?

A: You may place an order for additional certificates by contacting the customer support representative via email at You must state in your email the reason it is necessary to request new documents. The cost is $50 each.

General Public

Q: How do I find a practitioner in my area?

A: Please use the NCCAOM® Find a Practitioner Directory under the Find a Practitioner box on the NCCAOM website Home Page. After entering the zip code also enter the mile radius you wish to search. Did you know that a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)® is trained in both Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology? Please visit the Consumer section for additional information on each of the four certification programs. NCCAOM does not make recommendations as it is up to the consumer to make contact before deciding on a practitioner of choice.

Q: I’m interested in becoming a Practitioner. How do I get started?

A: If living in the U.S. you will want to choose a school accredited by or in candidacy with the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). You can find the list of ACAOM accredited schools at U.S. graduates from an ACAOM accredited school only are eligible for NCCAOM certification.

Individuals who have been educated outside the United States must have attended: 1) an academic institution that is approved by a foreign government’s Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, or equivalent foreign government agency. When government oversight / approval is not established: 2) an academic institution approved by a foreign private accreditation agency that has an accreditation process and standards substantially equivalent to that of ACAOM, and that is recognized for that purpose by the appropriate government entity in that foreign country. Or, 3) an academic institution approved by an acupuncture and/or Oriental medicine (AOM) professional society, association or organization that sets AOM education standards which are comparable to that of ACAOM, is recognized for that purpose, and has an enforcement arm to ensure standards are met and maintained. All individuals internationally educated must first apply for a foreign credential review from World Education Services (WES)

Investigating State Licensing requirements will also be an important step to deciding your future in the AOM profession. Currently, 43 states plus the District of Columbia require NCCAOM exams or certification as a prerequisite to licensure. For additional information regarding state licensure requirements, please go to State Regulatory Affairs on the NCCAOM website.

In addition, the NCCAOM® Certification Handbook offers detailed information on eligibility requirements to sit for the examinations.

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