Schools and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||71,040|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.3%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||5,590|
What's needed: Massage therapists complete a training program that is typically 500 hours or more. Programs are offered by private schools, community colleges, and vocational institutions and usually require a high school diploma for admission. Training includes classroom study and clinical practice and leads to a diploma or certificate. Many schools provide experience for students by offering therapeutic massage services to the public at reduced rates.
What you study:
Study topics include:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Massage principles
- Massage modalities such as Swedish and deep tissue
- Business management
Quickly shows the work of massage therapists. Created for the US Department of Labor.
A Day in the Life
Your morning begins at a bodywork studio where you offer massage therapy services as an independent contractor. After reviewing the client schedule with staff, you ready the treatment room by preparing the massage table, lighting aromatherapy candles, and ensuring soothing music is available.
Your next client is a pregnant woman, and you apply special techniques to give a relaxing prenatal massage. You then provide a healing deep-tissue treatment to a client with severe muscular tension.
After three hours of giving mini massages, you head home to tackle the administrative tasks that are part of running your own business. You spend an hour updating client records and doing bookkeeping. You also answer messages including inquiries from two new referrals. You set appointments with them and prepare your online calendar for another day of helping clients stay well.
Certifications and Licensing
The profession is regulated at the state and local levels. Most states require a license or certificate to practice and stipulate a minimum number of education hours. Depending on licensing board regulations, candidates must also pass either a state or national examination. The two national options are the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination and the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.
Full-time versus part-time:
Massage therapists often have high flexibility in planning their schedules. About 75 percent work part time. They frequently offer varied hours to accommodate clients, and evening and weekend sessions are common. Practitioners who are employed by businesses such as massage clinics may work regular shifts.
Most massage therapists are self-employed and work out of private or shared offices. Many also visit client premises by appointment. Some practitioners work on site for massage clinics, medical offices, or spa centers as independent contractors or employees.
- U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook –- The site provides an informative overview of the massage therapy profession. It clearly explains basic practitioner responsibilities, education and licensing requirements, and the job market. To get an even better feel for this career path, explore additional websites that focus on the massage therapy field.
- American Massage Therapy Association –- AMTA is a nonprofit professional association serving massage therapists and students. The site includes a career guidance section with detailed articles and tips on various aspects of practice. With features such as a career quiz, this content helps you see inside the real world of a massage therapist.
- Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals -- ABMP is another leading professional membership organization. The site focuses on member benefits such as liability insurance and includes sections directed to practitioners and students. The information provides a sense of the business side of the profession especially for the self-employed.
- Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation –- COMTA accredits massage therapy schools and programs. Its Schools & Students section provides a handy search tool for accredited programs by type and state. You can also look up a school by name to check its accreditation.
- National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork –- The NCBTMB is a nonprofit organization offering national certification for massage therapists and bodyworkers. The certification section provides comprehensive information about the process to help you understand exactly what is involved.