I am frequently asked about the difference between being a shaman and being a shamanic practitioner, and can anyone be one. That is really two questions so let's address them one at a time.
First, what is the difference between a shaman and a shamanic practitioner. A shaman is a healer. A shaman is someone who the spirits work with and through so that others may be healed. Please note that it is not really the shaman who heals, rather the shaman is a vehicle through whom healing power flows. A shamanic practitioner, on the other hand, is someone who engages in shamanic practices in her or his spiritual practice. The most common practice is that of journeying. A shamanic practitioner gains access to helping spirits in a shamanic journey. Those spirits provide guidance, insight, and even healing on a personal level.
Now for the second question. Anyone can be a shamanic practitioner and use drumming, journeying, and ceremony as part of a spiritual practice. And it is a beautiful spiritual practice for those of us who practice earth-based spirituality. Not everyone can be a shaman. Being a shaman isn't something you decide to do. While you can ask Spirit to let you serve others as a shaman, Spirit must accept you and be willing to work with you. Spirit will judge your devotion, motivation, and level of receptivity and may call you to be a shaman, or may not. It's not up to you or me, but up to spirit.
In today's on-demand consumerist world just about anyone can claim to be a pastor, minister or priest and become ordained by some church somewhere. That ordination doesnt' make the person a spiritual vessel. Fortunately in shamanism there are no organizations that can ordine one as a shaman. It's all up to Spirit. For me that makes shamanism the ultimate spiritual path, it is based totally on a calling by Spirit.
So, if you feel called to be a shaman, if you are doing it for the right reasons (and none of the right reasons are ego-based) then start out as a shamanic practitioner. Get use to working with spirit and being receptive to what Spirit will teach you, then ask.
I'm Dr. Dave, an eclectic shaman. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice eclectic shamanism.