Is it your desire to work as a massage therapist? Have you made this career decision, even though you have no idea exactly what it consists of? Do you need a massage therapy class now? Are you able to work with a wide variety of types of people and feel that you have a good sense of delivering customer service skills? Do you have what it takes to help people use massage therapy in order to make their body feel better? If you said yes to each of these questions, then maybe it is time to seriously consider pursuing your dream career. As a massage therapist you will spend much of your day providing massage therapy techniques in order to control a patient’s pain, to promote relaxation, and to help them reduce their stress. It will be up to you to obtain a patient’s medical history, to assess their conditions and problems, and to suggest appropriate massage methods and techniques based on their current health issues. Research your new massage therapy training program now!
It is common for individuals who want to be a massage therapist to pursue a certificate based program. Typically, you can find this type of program at local community colleges or vocational institutes. You can expect it to take you approximately 32-43 credit hours, which is the equivalent of two to three semesters, to obtain your certificate in this field of study. In addition to your classes that are related to massage therapy, you can also expect to be required to complete coursework that is related to business ethics and professional practices. This is designed to help massage therapists be better prepared to work on an independent basis or to own their own business.
You can expect to take classes such as: pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, myology for massage therapists, medical terminology, therapeutic massage, pathophysiology, and medical law, ethics, and human relations. In addition, it is common for students to be required to complete practice labs that will give them the chance to apply techniques and methods that have been learned in the classroom. Take a few minutes and check out the many schools that are shown on our site. Feel free to request a complimentary information packet from any of the schools that are appealing to you; this will surely help you make a more informed decision regarding your educational goals and your potential career path. As a certificate holder in massage therapy it will be possible for you to practice in several different venues. For instance, you could practice massage therapy in a spa or resort, in a clinic type setting, or you could choose to open your own business. Get started today and request information from any of the massage therapy training programs below.
Have you been thinking about starting a new career as a Certified Massage Therapist or earning a Massage Therapy Degree? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Now is a great time to consider transitioning or beginning a career in Massage Therapy. There have been many advances in the allied health. medical and bodywork industries as more patients are realizing the value of holistic health practices and insurance companies are also beginning to offer care for total body care or holistic services. Massage Therapy is a career that is sure to remain in high demand for at least the next decade if not longer. If you are looking for a rewarding career in the allied healthcare industry and possess any of the skills that we’ll be discussing below, there is a possibility that a career as a Massage Therapist may be just what you’re looking for!
Read more to explore who massage therapists are, what they do, where they work, and what it takes to become one if you are interested in pursuing a career in the allied health, medical, or bodywork industries. You will also gain insights on what kind of skills successful massage therapists have related to what skills that you already have. Taking the time to asses these factors will to help you to assess if this may be the right career path for you based on what you already know and are willing to learn. Let’s start with a brief definition of what Massage Therapy actually is and an introduction to the practice.
Massage Therapy Training
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Massage Therapists treat clients by using touch to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body for healing of injuries and pain relief. Many patients of Massage Therapists report an overall improvement in well-being, increased mobility and reduced instances of chronic pain. Massage Therapists fall under the categories of: Allied Health Providers. Other Medical Providers, and Bodywork Specialists. Massage Therapists are found working in a variety of settings that you may be familiar with including:
- Medical and Healthcare Facilities
- Day Spas
- Fitness Centers
- Educational Institutions
- Private Offices
- Mobile Offices
As this is a solitary career outside of contact with clients, many newly certified Massage Therapists are self-employed or operate private practices upon completion of their certificate or degree programs. One of the benefits of this career is the ability to create a flexible or custom schedule for treating clients and mobility allows for an independent therapist to practice virtually anywhere. If these sound like the kind of benefits and flexibility that you are looking for, keep reading to learn more! The requirements to become a Certified Massage Therapists vary slightly by state and educational institution policies. Minimally, most states will require the Massage Therapy candidate to have previously earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Once it is deemed that the candidate has their diploma or equivalent, the candidate then becomes eligible to enter a certification program track or degree program on the track to licensure in their respective state or region if licensure is required in their area. According to the AMTA there are about 300,000.00 to 350,000.00 practicing Massage Therapists in the United States. At this time massage therapists are found working in a variety of therapeutic settings. Sole practictioners account for more than half of all practicing therapists in the United States. The ability to practice privately is one of the many benefits that is offered by this flexible career choice. If self-employment is also a part of your personal career plan, this is another indication that you are on the track to finding the best career fit for you.
Salary: The Bureau of Labor Statistics advises that the median annual pay or average salary for Massage Therapists is 39,860.00 as of May 2016. These statistics reflect the salaries of practicing Massage Therapists in both public and private employment settings. The income potential for self-employed therapists is virtually unlimited and will vary based on the amount of education, effort, and client base that they are able to build and maintain as an individual practitioner. The lowest 10% of Massage Therapists in the US earned less than 19,720.00 annually. The highest earning 10% of Massage Therapists earned more than 74,870.00 annually.
Massage Therapists collect both wages and tips which will also have a slight impact on their annual salary. What you can see reflected here is that the income potential for the Massage Therapist can vary tremendously and overall the factors that are going to determine a therapists’ final salary include education, location, and other controllable factors. The salary reflected here is an average only and does not account for any additional factors such as location, dual degrees, self-employment, private practice, or other experience that may affect the amount that a new therapist can potentially expect to earn in the field. The job outlook is projected to grow 22 percent between 2014 and 2024 which is must faster than the average for all US occupations. Based on the job outlook it appears that those who are currently interested in the field have an excellent opportunity to get into the field and secure employment in a variety of therapeutic settings or begin a personal practice within a few short years. This prospective outlook provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is great news for those that are interested in becoming certified or licensed massage therapists. The opportunity for growth in the field at this time is unlimited whether the candidate will consider a career as an employee or an independently practicing Massage Therapist.
Massage Therapy Educational Requirements
Massage Therapy is one of the career paths that falls into the category of Allied Health and similar medical services. This is one of the few allied health learning tracks that offers a fast-tracked career option where potential candidates are able to complete their education, on-the-job-training, followed by regional certification and licensure within two years or less of starting a program. According to the AMTA there are currently 300 accredited massage therapy institutions available for study in the US. To search for accredited massage therapy schools in your state and for online programs, you may visit the AMTA website to find a massage therapy school. In order for a potential massage therapy candidate to enter a certification or secondary vocational massage therapy program, a high school diploma or equivalent is required. A typical vocational program will require 500-1000 hours of massage therapy related study and coursework which will include lecture, theory, and hands on .
Anatomy: This course which is often combined with Physiology introduces the Massage Therapy student to the organization of the body on a cellular, tissue, and system level.
Physiology: These courses build on the principles that are introduced in Anatomy (often taken together with this course) to expand upon integrating anatomy structures and their physiological functions.
Kinesiology: Coursework here introduces the Massage Therapy candidate to the study of the movement of body parts. This is one of the most critical courses for a prospective candidate to take as it deals with the primary functions that the therapist will be helping to heal, maintain, or restore.
Pathology: The learner in this case will be exposed to the basic concepts of the functional and structural changes caused by disease. Coursework here will allow the practicing therapist the ability to discern when additional resources or patient referral to another healthcare provider may be appropriate.
Business Management: Offers a basic introduction to the fundamentals of business management including the development of common business practices and structures, contract development, financial record keeping and marketing methods which are useful especially for those Massage Therapy candidates with an interest in becoming self-employed or practicing independently.
Ethics: This course touches on the concepts of ethics in practice for Massage Therapist. Coursework here includes information on relevant regional and local laws as well as commonly accepted industry practices and their current status. Massage Therapy candidates will be introduced to several types of bodywork massages including:
Swedish Massage: This massage type was developed in the early 19thcentury and focuses on teaching the candidate the five basic massage strokes that are used to administer a Swedish Massage. The five strokes that the student will learn are:
Sports Massage: This kind of massage is designed to enhance athletic performance and focuses on common athletic injury, treatments, prevention and restoration for athletes.
- Side-Lying Massage
- Pre-Natal Massage
- Infant Massage
- Seated Massage
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage
- Myofascial Release
- Neuromuscular Massage Therapy
- Elderly Massage & Massage For Diabetes
- Foot Reflexology
- Hydrotherapy Stone Massage
- Kinesiology Muscle Energy Techniques
- Pathology – Structural Analysis
There are a numerous types of massage therapies and methodologies available for the Massage Therapist to practice. During the course of study, a new therapist may choose to focus there practice in a specialty area that focuses on a particular area of the body or other specific aspect of practices. The vast amounts of available massage disciplines and methodologies offers additional benefits related to the Massage Therapy career. Practitioners are able to apply a variety of existing methodologies to their practice which allows for the therapist to offer clients the ideal services that are customized and best suited to their particular physiological needs related to their health and wellness and treatment plans. The potential for being able to offer therapeutic services to patients with a variety of treatment options offers the Massage Therapist additional flexibility in being able to choose the types of methodologies that they would like to incorporate into their practices. This flexibility is especially apparent in the cases that the therapist has opted to practice privately or independently. There are also new methodologies being explored and practiced daily as knowledge about the human body systems and functions continues to increase exponentially. These medical and healthcare advances fall into alignment with the advances in modern healthcare and the more recent green movement that focuses on the using the body systems to heal themselves holistically.
As the value of the benefits of massage therapy becomes more widespread the need for competent massage therapists is expected to increase as the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates. This is an excellent time for anyone interested in the field of Massage Therapy and related occupations to get a head start on the industry advances which include new medical care and bodywork procedures. More discoveries in the field of Massage Therapy and related occupations are sure to arise as more Americans begin to have access to health care under private insurance plans and the Affordable Care Act and new massage therapists begin entering the field with a fresh perspective and sense of eagerness as they embark on their newly chosen career paths.
An increase in public access to medical services, along with a clearer understanding of the importance of maintaining total body health will allow the Massage Therapist to better assist their patients with maintaining total mind and body health. The assistive bodywork that massage therapists offer coupled with other positive lifestyle and nutrition changes help the patients tremendously on their pathway to healing and achieving total mind body wellness. There are other educational opportunities available for massage therapists outside of vocational and certificate programs such as on-the-job training and Associates Degree programs that will allow the Massage Therapy candidate to begin practice in a short period of time.
The field of Massage Therapy is one of those in the allied health profession that allows for the candidate to participate in a fast tracked program of study. Potential Massage Therapy candidates can enter the field and begin practice after investing a period of two years or less into gaining the proper education and certification or licensures to practice. The AAS or Associates Degree in Applied Science allows for the newly degreed therapist to begin practicing therapy immediately upon licensure in their state of residence if the candidate is located in one of the 45 states where the practice of massage therapy is currently regulated and requires licensure.
Massage Therapy State Licensing Requirements
Once the required certification or degree program has been successfully completed, the Massage Therapy Candidate will become eligible for licensure in the (45) US States that require a license to practice Massage Therapy. Not all states in the US currently require licensure to practice at this time. It is recommended that the candidate verify their state and local law requirements prior to enrolling in a certificate or degree program. The Massage Therapy Licensing Exam is issued and regulated by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.
For those that may be looking to advance their career in the Massage Therapy industry Board Certification is also available as one of the industry’s highest accolades. Board Certification provides the Massage Therapist with official credentials. The difference between Board Certification vs. Licensure in the field of Massage Therapy is Commitment. Licensure in the field is mandatory while Board Certification is optional and offers an available option for practicing allied health and medical professionals to demonstrate their dedication to excellence by opting to become Board Certified. Board Certification is administered and managed through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. To learn more about the benefits of becoming Board Certified or to begin the certification process visit the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork website.
Massage Therapy Regulatory Agencies
The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards was designed to assure safe and ethical practice in the field. The Federation is responsible for administering the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam or MBLEx. The MBLEx is the primary licensing exam that Massage Therapy candidates are required to successfully complete before they are able to become licensed. The exam, and test preparation materials are administered and regulated through the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. You can find information and resources related to Massage Therapy education, employment resources, and licensure information which includes requirements for your state. Applications are also able to be completed and submitted online for services. The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards also keeps records on active licensees that can be researched online. The American Massage Therapy Organization is touted as one of the most respected associations currently servicing massage therapists. The Association provides information and referral for active therpists, prospective therapists, students, and massage schools. This is an excellent resource for new Massage Therapy candidates or those who have expressed a potential interest in the field. The AMTA also works on behalf of licensees to assure fair licensing of massage in all states and actively supports research in an effort to continuously provide clients with access to the best bodywork methods and personal care.
The AMTA is also an outstanding resource for Massage Therapists seeking continuing education courses or access to industry related job postings.
Day in the Life of a Massage Therapists
- Massage Therapists complete various tasks daily related to their practice. Therapists can expect for their practice to include the following tasks:
- Massage and kneading of muscles and soft tissues of the body to provide treatment for medical conditions, injuries, or prevention and wellness.
- Massage Therapists will confer with clients daily regarding medical histories, treatment plan, appointment for services, and general customer service and client billing related inquiries.
- Therapists will regularly apply finger and hand pressure to specific points of the body in order to facilitate healing and wellness for clients. This is a repetitive task and is the primary task of a Massage Therapist.
- The therapists are also responsible for maintenance of client records, treatment plans, all other client files and billing. Basic administrative experience is required to complete these tasks.
- Massage Therapists complete physical body analysis of clients in order to assess client’s soft tissue condition, joint quality and function and to develop the appropriate treatment plans for clients based on their individual assessments.
- Skills Needed to Become a Massage Therapist
In order to prepare for transition into a Massage Therapy career, it is important to assess your current skill set related to the field and those of successful practicing massage therapists. Below is a basic overview of some skills that a successfully practicing massage therapist should already have or be willing to learn:
Basic Computer Skills: In order to keep track of client records, files, treatment plans and other client related documents basic computing skills are required. Many medical billing related tasks and client records are also now stored on computers so basic computer skills are now a mandatory requirement in order to be successful in the field.
Medical Software Knowledge: The therapist may be responsible for client billing and maintainging records. The ability to use or learn to use medical software is paramount for the new therapist.
Critical Thinking Skills: This is an essential skill that all potential Massage Therapy candidates must have. Therapists will be required to make important decisions regarding client’s health and be able to act on sound decisions based on good judgement. Therapists need to be able to determine the most beneficial action plan for clients and be able to adjust and implement additional strategies as needed.
Empathy/Patience: Due to the nature of the occupation a Massage Therapist will come into contact with various people from all walks of life on a regular basis. It is important that the therapist be able to remain non-judemental and unbiased in an effort to provide the most effective care for clients seeking relief or healing.