Individuals wishing to practice acupuncture in California must first obtain a state license, which requires qualifying for and passing California's written examination (Business and Professions Code section 4938). The examination tests the competency of entry level acupuncturists.
In order to qualify for California's examination, an applicant must furnish satisfactory evidence of completion of one of the following:
- An educational and training program approved by the Board pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 4938(b)(1)
- For students who enrolled in an approved acupuncture and Oriental medicine training program, must complete a minimum of 3,000 hours of theoretical and clinical training pursuant to California Code of Regulations, section 1399.434.
- A tutorial program in the practice of acupuncture (consisting of a minimum of 3,798 hours of theoretical and clinical training), which is approved by the Board per Business and Professions Code section 4938(b)(2) and California Code of Regulations, section 1399.420-432;
- In the case of an applicant who has completed education and training outside the United States, documented educational training and clinical experience that meets the standards established pursuant to Business and Professions Code sections 4939 and 4941.
California does not recognize out-of-state licensing (reciprocity) nor does it accept for licensure those individuals who take and pass the national examination (administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)). Therefore, licensees from other states or those individuals who have passed NCCAOM's examination may not practice until they have qualified for, taken and passed the California examination.
The Acupuncture Board administers the California Acupuncture Licensing Examination (CALE) and offers the examination in Mandarin, Korean and English. The CALE is based on and validated by an occupational analysis. The passing score on the examination is determined by subject matter experts (SMEs) who use a criterion-referenced scoring method.