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Complementary Health


This page provides information and data on the Complementary Health sector.

The Complementary Health sector is made up of practitioners who treat patients with physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs by considering the whole person, rather than focusing on specific symptoms, and by using various therapies, techniques and practices.

Nationally recognised training for complementary health is delivered under the HLT Health Training Package.

The Complementary Health Industry Reference Committee (IRC) has responsibility for nine qualifications, packaged within the HLT Health Training Package, aligned to job roles within the following sectors:

  • Ayurveda
  • Aromatherapy
  • Kinesiology
  • Massage and remedial massage therapy
  • Shiatsu
  • Reflexology
  • Traditional Chinese medicine remedial massage.

Complementary Health training package products are being proposed to be reviewed in the 2019—20 financial year. No pressing skill gaps have been identified in the training package products that require immediate action. 

For information on other health-related training and employment, visit the Health industry page and the various sectors.

Information sourced from the Complementary Health IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast (forthcoming).

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Since 2000, the employment level for a number of complementary health occupations has grown considerably. In particular, the Massage Therapist workforce grew from 3,300 in 2000 to 19,900 in 2018. Complementary health occupations are all projected to grow to 2023 with the exception of Complementary Health Therapists.

Training trends

Training snapshot

In 2017 there were 13,476 program enrolments in complementary health qualifications. This is a decrease of over 3,000 enrolments from the previous year. There were 3,558 program completions in 2017.

About 83% of program enrolments were at the diploma or higher level in 2017, with the rest being at certificate IV level.  

The highest proportion of enrolments was in remedial massage qualifications, followed by massage therapy qualifications. In terms of destination occupations for the training, Massage Therapist was the main destination occupation. Other destination occupations include Natural Remedy Consultant, Naturopath and Dietician.  

The majority of training (84%) is delivered by private providers. In addition, 70% of funding for subjects is through domestic fee for service.

The majority of students are located in Queensland (26%), New South Wales (25%) and Victoria (21%). 

There were insufficient enrolments in apprenticeships or traineeships to allow analysis.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET Students by Industry.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of total VET. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Complementary Health IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast identifies a number of factors which have an impact upon the Complementary Health workforce and training needs:

  • the removal of government subsidies for a number of therapies within the Complementary Health sector
  • strong demand for complementary health services, including those treating a range of chronic or debilitating illnesses
  • the role of the Complementary Health workforce in delivering health services to rural and regional communities
  • regulation, in particular the recent introduction of a Code of Conduct for Unregistered Health Practitioners in some states and territories
  • high levels of part-time employment and earnings which are below the average national wage levels.

Both the Skills Forecast and the job advertisement data list communication as the top generic skill in the Complementary Health sector. According to the job advertisement data, the top five occupations in demand are:

  • Massage Therapist
  • Dietitian
  • Remedial Massage Therapist
  • Naturopath
  • Clinical Dietitian.

Relevant research

The Practice and Regulatory Requirements of Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine




Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 2522 Complementary Health Therapists
    • 2511 Nutrition Professionals
    • 4116 Massage Therapists
    • 4515 Personal Care Consultants.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1st November 2018

  • Employed total by ANZSCO four digit selected occupations, 2000 to 2018, May quarter
    • 2522 Complementary Health Therapists
    • 2511 Nutrition Professionals
    • 4116 Massage Therapists
    • 4515 Personal Care Consultants.                                                                                                            

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • HLT Health Training Package
  • Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine
    • HLT42707 - Certificate IV in Aromatherapy
    • HLT42712 - Certificate IV in Aromatherapy
    • HLT51407 - Diploma of Aromatherapy
    • HLT52315 - Diploma of Clinical Aromatherapy
    • HLT60907 - Advanced Diploma of Aromatic Medicine
  • Ayurveda
    • HLT41207 - Certificate IV in Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultation
    • HLT41212 - Certificate IV in Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultation
    • HLT52615 - Diploma of Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultation
    • HLT60707 - Advanced Diploma of Ayurveda
    • HLT60712 - Advanced Diploma of Ayurveda
    • HLT62615 - Advanced Diploma of Ayurveda
  • Kinesiology
    • HLT42807 - Certificate IV in Kinesiology
    • HLT42812 - Certificate IV in Kinesiology
    • HLT51507 - Diploma of Kinesiology
    • HLT52415 - Diploma of Kinesiology
  • Massage Therapy
    • HLT40307 - Certificate IV in Massage Therapy Practice
    • HLT40312 - Certificate IV in Massage Therapy Practice
    • HLT42015 - Certificate IV in Massage Therapy
  • Naturopathy, Homeopathy and Western Herbal Medicine
    • HLT60102 - Advanced Diploma of Western Herbal Medicine
    • HLT60107 - Advanced Diploma of Western Herbal Medicine
    • HLT60112 - Advanced Diploma of Western Herbal Medicine
    • HLT60507 - Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy
    • HLT60512 - Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy
    • HLT60612 - Advanced Diploma of Homoeopathy
  • Nutritional Medicine
    • HLT61007 - Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine
    • HLT61012 - Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine
  • Reflexology
    • HLT51707 - Diploma of Reflexology
    • HLT51712 - Diploma of Reflexology
    • HLT52515 - Diploma of Reflexology
  • Remedial Massage
    • HLT50302 - Diploma of Remedial Massage
    • HLT50307 - Diploma of Remedial Massage
    • HLT52015 - Diploma of Remedial Massage
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine Remedial Massage, Shiatsu and Oriental Therapies
    • HLT50112 - Diploma of Traditional Chinese Medicine Remedial Massage (An Mo Tui Na)
    • HLT50202 - Diploma of Shiatsu and Oriental Therapies
    • HLT50207 - Diploma of Shiatsu and Oriental Therapies
    • HLT50212 - Diploma of Shiatsu and Oriental Therapies
    • HLT52115 - Diploma of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Remedial Massage
    • HLT52215 - Diploma of Shiatsu and Oriental Therapies.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document. 

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Complementary Health IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018,

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

ANZSCO occupations have been used as industry filters because they provide more relevant job vacancy data for this sector.

  • Generic skills / Occupations/Employers
    • 2511 Nutrition Professionals
    • 2522 Complementary Health Therapists
    • 4515 Personal Care Consultants
    • 4116 Massage Therapists.
Updated: 12 Sep 2019
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