The Scoop on Massage Therapists

Massage Therapy has long been something to soothe the mind, body and soul.

The benefits of massage therapy are becoming more and more a part of the "common knowledge" here in America, and that means this field will grow faster than the national average over the next few years. Though Massage Therapy sound like a rinky-dink job that anybody can do (who hasn't given a backrub, right?), it is actually a highly skilled profession that requires a great deal of training, skill and practice. In addition, different styles of massage require different kinds of training.

What in the World Does a Massage Therapist Do?

Essentially, Massage is broken down into "modalities" (which is a fancy word for "types") and each one of the "modalities" requires special training and expertise. As a Massage Therapist you would need to be able to get a medical history from your clients, decide what sort of massage they need and set a time for how long their massage will last. Since massage can last from 2 hours to 15 minutes it is crucial that you have the knowledge to make these decisions quickly so you can get to work. Also, giving a massage is physically strenuous for you, and you need to be mindful of the correct methods to avoid injuring yourself as you work.

Besides being the "Massager," a therapist also has to be familiar with different types of oils and creams that might be used in a massage session. Though some of these oils and creams are typical, over-the-counter items, some of them are medicinal in nature and you must have some medical knowledge to know what to use and how to use it.

Because this is a word of mouth kind of business, you need to be the social type, not afraid to approach people. Much of what you do is recruiting new clients to build your client base.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

The amount of training that you need varies from State to State, so the first place to start is the State Medical Board to see what rules (if any) your State has concerning Massage Therapists. Different massage styles, for example, Swedish massage or sports massage, require different schools of training. After you determine the type of massage you would like to specialize in, you need to go to school. There are 1500 massage therapy programs in colleges, community colleges, junior colleges, and vocational schools in the U.S., and any one of them will offer either a certificate in Massage Therapy or (in some rare cases) an Associate's Degree in Massage therapy. Since the rules from State to State vary, the amount of time you'll spend in school also varies. Basically, an Associate's Degree takes 2 years to complete, but a "training program" in Massage Therapy is more than likely going to be 9-12 months.

After you get out of school and get any required license in Massage Therapy, then you can take the NCETMB (National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork). When you pass it, you will receive a National Certification that will be good in ANY state that requires certification.

Now you're ready to look for a job!

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

Massage Therapists work in every setting you can possibly imagine. You could get a job at a hospital offering services to patients and employees. The massage can reduce stress in employees and relieve pain and tension in patients. You could also work in a nursing home helping the older folks get the tension out of their sore bones or you could work in a massage clinic, sports program or Chiropractic Clinic.

Many Massage Therapists work as independents who keep track of their own client base and usually go TO their clients. This is the perfect sort of opportunity for you to work your work around your life and your family. This also makes massage therapy attractive to those who may want to do it as a second job. Say you were a nurse - you could also do massage therapy on the side.

Advancement in this field usually only leads to a bigger client base and/or a higher hourly rate. Besides having a lot of clients you could, with a lot of experience, teach Massage Therapy at a training program or college. Working in research is also an option, but sometimes this might require an advanced degree in a science or medical field. Either way, you don't ONLY have to do massage your whole life if you don't want to.

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Massage Therapists Overview

Massage Therapist Salary:$34,900
Job Prospects:A-
Education after high school:0.2 years
# Employed in US:149,670
% Who work Part Time:42%
Physical Difficulty:+ + + + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+
Emotional Difficulty:+ + + +

The Pros of being a Massage Therapist

  • Training doesn't take a long time
  • You can work your own business if you want to
  • You can do Massage Therapy as a second job

The Cons of being a Massage Therapist

  • You spend a lot of time on your feet
  • You do A LOT of the work with your hands and it can be hard on your hands
  • Advancement only comes through a larger client base (perhaps teaching)