Your Path to Becoming a Massage Therapist

Required Courses
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Organs and Tissues
  • Kinesiology
  • Body Mechanics
  • Business Management
  • Massage Ethics

In massage therapy you use touch, pressure, and massage to manipulate the soft-tissues of the body. You will relieve patient's stress/pain and promote good health. Before administering therapy you will conduct an informal interview to determine client's treatment. Depending on the needs of the client you will administer a massage type.

There are over 80 different massage types. Such types include Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, relaxation massage, sports massage, medical massage, and acupressure. Each massage type has its own techniques and forms.

To become a massage therapist you must complete formal training and adhere to state regulations. The requirements for practicing massage therapists vary. Many massage therapists work part time or are self-employed. Jobs in massage therapy are expected to continue to grow.

Step 1 Education

Training requirements vary by state. Massage therapy programs should be approved by a State board or accredited by an independent agency. Most private or public postsecondary institutions require up to 500 hours of study.

An associate degree will provide you with advanced massage concepts and techniques. Associate programs are usually six to nine months. Having earned a degree you will qualify for both medical and clinical massage job positions.

Some states require massage therapists to be licensed. Students must take a state exam, either the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination.

Continued education is required by some states. There are certain courses therapists must complete annually to maintain licensure. New techniques are developed often, so therapists should stay current.

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Step 2 Job Search

After completing your education and becoming licensed you can work in many health and recreational facilities. Such facilities include, spas, hotels, hospitals, and physical therapy offices.

Completing an internship after or during your education will open doors to future employment. You will learn on the job skills and form associations with experienced massage professionals. Another way to gain experience and network is to volunteer your services. You could massage family, friends, and community members. This experience will help build a clientele.

Many massage therapists open and run their own business. Running your own business allows you to manage your schedule. You will also collect all the money from your services.

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics expects employment of massage therapists to grow faster than average. The massage industry will continue to grow as more people discover its health benefits. More spas and massage clinic franchises are opening up around the country. These clinics are cheaper and offer services to more customers.

Step 3 Career

As a massage therapist you will earn on average $11.36 and $25.14 an hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics. An additional portion of your income will come from gratuities. However, those working in medical offices generally do not receive tips.

Massage therapists work between 15 and 30 hours a week. They work less hours due to the time needed to rest between sessions and sometimes travel. You will work by appointment and must build good client relations.

Clients need to trust and feel comfortable with you. Usually those who need massage therapy sessions need multiple visits. If you want to be successful at massage therapy, regular clients are a must.