The number of massage therapists working in the United States has increased by eight percent over the last decade. That is due in part to the growing demand, reflecting the many health benefits clients receive from the practice.
If you are considering becoming a massage expert, there are several things to consider. The main one is the requisite education, training, and licensing required, though there are others as well.
Below is a complete guide to becoming a massage therapist. Keep reading to find out what the process and practice entail, so you can decide if it is the right career choice for you.
What Is a Massage Therapist?
Massage therapists use pressure from their own hands or dedicated devices to manipulate the body’s joints and soft tissues. This can have many goals. These include reducing muscle tension or promoting relaxation, immune-system health, or overall well-being.
There are many different massage applications and methods. Common techniques include Swedish, deep-tissue, sports, and Shiatsu massage. There are areas where massage overlaps with physical therapy.
There are other specialized modalities. These include reflexology, myofascial release, and prenatal massage. Determining the type of massage techniques you might like to offer can help you focus your path to becoming a massage expert.
Massage therapists work in different settings. These include spas and offices of other health professionals. Many have their own practice that they might run from an office or even their home.
How Much Do Massage Therapists Make?
On average, professional, full-time massage therapists can make between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, or more. This depends on many different factors. These include the setting where you work, the type of services you offer, and your location.
It also depends on whether you work for another company or are self-employed. With the former, you may draw a salary or be paid an hourly rate. For private practice, if you charge an hourly rate to clients, the amount of money you make will depend on how many clients you see during a given time.
Consider Your Career Objectives and Goals
There are different types of massage therapists. However, there are some basic skills that are necessary to become successful. Before signing up for education and training, consider if these line up with your personality and career preferences as goals.
For starters, massage therapists need to have good communication and interpersonal skills. In general, they likely will have a great deal of empathy and compassion for others. Patience and a calming presence are also welcomed attributes.
From a physical standpoint, massage therapists need to have a fair amount of stamina. Much of the job requires being on your feet and using your own muscle force to administer therapies.
You might also consider your own personal schedule and life demands. Many massage therapy jobs have standard nine-to-five work hours. Others find that offering services outside of regular work hours, such as evenings or weekends, is necessary to grow their client base.
Finally, if you are working independently, some business savvy will be helpful along the way. You will need to know how to invoice and charge clients. Some knowledge about dealing with health insurance policies could be helpful as well if you decide to accept it.
State and National Certification
There are only a handful of states (Kansas, Minnesota, and Wyoming) that do not require some type of formal registration for therapists. Every other state has its own unique standards for certification, licensing, or registration.
This includes first-time applicants as well as those renewing. For instance, some states demand a specified number of hours of continuing education for renewal.
Note that there are also national board certification options. The most auspicious one is the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.
These are not mandatory to practice massage therapy in any given state. They are, however, a great way to validate your level of education and training for prospective clients.
Certification (mandatory or voluntary) is the final step before beginning your practice. We are mentioning this early on because it is important to be familiar with these when choosing education programs. You should ensure that the training you receive is adequate for the state requirements where you intend to work.
Massage Expert Education and Training
Once you decide to become a massage expert, the next step is to enroll in a state-approved and accredited training program. This usually entails coursework and hands-on training for massage therapy practices. Again, note that some states require a mix of both education and a minimal number of hours of clinical training.
Common areas of study for massage therapy certification include anatomy and physiology. These focus on the systems in the body, including their structure and function. Kinesiology focuses on muscle components–how they attach and help the body to move.
Massage therapy students also may focus on pathology and medical terminology. This ensures a basic knowledge of diseases and conditions, how they impact the body, and the ways in which therapy might address them.
In addition, students will receive instruction on different equipment and products for doing massage therapy. They also will learn about the importance of basic hygiene and cleanliness standards.
Educational courses should also include discussions of ethical and legal standards. These help ensure safe and effective treatment in a professional setting.
The clinical side of training will involve employing classroom learning to real-world specimens. Students should have experience diagnosing conditions and formulating solutions to them.
Many programs will partner with spas or private massage companies. This can help give students the hands-on experience necessary to become successful massage therapists.
Find Massage Training Near You
Now that you understand what it takes to become a massage therapist, you can take steps to begin the journey today. With the right training, you will be on your way to a successful career as a massage expert.
Healthcare Career College was founded in Paramount, CA, in 1990. Our goal is to provide a direct path to employment in a variety of healthcare fields, including massage therapy. Reach out to us today to learn more about getting your massage therapist license.