Massage Therapy Career

massage therapist career

Getting Into A Massage Therapy Career

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A massage therapy career is filled with two kinds of opportunity.  The first opportunity is one sought by almost everyone, a secure financial future.

The second opportunity may be even more rewarding, the gift of healing, comfort, and pain relief.   A massage therapist career begins with the proper education and training.

It is time to examine the requirements and financial rewards of this great career.

The Requirements of Becoming a Massage Therapist

Becoming a massage therapist takes a different path then most other sports medicine career options.  In most states a massage therapist in not required to complete a college degree program, but are only required to successfully pass massage therapy training from an approved school.   These programs vary greatly in the number of hours required to pass the course.  You will find massage therapy programs which start with only 500 hours of coursework to well over 1000 hours.

Detailed information on starting your massage therapy career.

While a college degree is not required to enter a massage therapy career there are a few schools who offer the opportunity to acquire an Associate of Applied Science Degree by successfully completing their course.

The number of hours training in each massage therapist school is commonly dictated by state regulations.  32 states and the District of Columbia have licensing or certification requirements to work as a massage therapist.  The requirements vary significantly.  If you will be attending school in one state and practicing massage therapy in another state, it is important to check local requirements.

The Educational Path to Enter Your Massage Therapist Career

Since most programs are not leading to a college degree the courses offered are highly focused on teaching you massage skills and supporting knowledge.  Most programs will also include courses in ethics and morality, business administration, and other skills necessary to succeed in your career.  Some of the commonly offered classes include:

Massage therapy career

  • Kinesiology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Pathology
  • Chair Massage
  • Reflexology
  • Shiatsu
  • Sports Massage
  • Communication Skills
  • Nutrition
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Prenatal Massage
  • CPR

As you can see the classes are highly focused on your career without any excess courses.  In the case of programs leading to an Associate Degree you will find added general study courses.

Certification for a Massage Therapy Career

Successfully completing your course in massage therapy does not grant you a national certification.  Currently there are two primary exams being used.

  • National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork
  • Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards

The NCBTMB offers a certification examination which is accepted in some states for licensing or certification.  The FSMTB offers a licensing exam, the MBLEx, which has been jointly designed by a number of state boards for their local licensing requirements.  The licensing examination from FSMTB has the highest potential of eventually becoming a national standard due to existing multi-state support.

Once again, it is important to check with your state and local jurisdiction to discover if either exam is required.

Massage Therapy Career Expectations after Completing School

Massage Therapy Career Guide for Hands-On Success

Once you have completed the massage therapy training you will be faced with a few difficult decisions. 

Most massage therapists are self-employed.  

You will need to decide if you are going to be your own boss or seek employment through a fitness center, medical office, or corporation.

In recent surveys the current level of massage therapy salary is:

  • $42,892 per year – Median income across the USA, all Massage Therapists.
  • $50,000 per year – Licensed Massage Therapist
  • $60,000 per year – Massage Therapy Instructors

The interesting thing to note in massage therapy salary studies is the fact the highest paid massage therapists consistently are self-employed with their own practice.  They report it took time to build-up their clientele and practice, but the higher levels of income justify the effort.

These salary ranges fit very comparably in the middle of studies of sports medicine salary.  Massage therapy is one of the easiest and fastest paths to a sports medicine career.

What Job Titles Do Massage Therapists Hold?

Your massage therapy training can lead to opportunities under many different titles including:

  • Massage Therapist
  • Bodywork Therapist
  • Therapeutic Massage Technician
  • Licensed Massage Practitioner
  • Registered Massage Therapist

Keep in mind if you are starting your own practice you should not use terms like Registered or Licensed unless you have met your state’s requirement to carry the title.

No matter what title you use to start you massage therapy career, the important thing is to always maintain your focus on client care.

It is your reputation of being a skilled and helpful massage therapist which will cause your practice and income to grow.