Massage Therapy Career Overview

A career in massage therapy can be very lucrative and extremely rewarding and the demand is high for qualified massage professionals. The demand for massage therapists is growing faster than average, between 2008 to 2018 it is forecast to increase by 19%.

By definition, massage therapy is manipulation of soft tissues. Massage therapy uses various hands-on techniques to release tension in muscles, decrease scar tissue and swelling, and to regain mobility. This can mean anything from a light relaxing Swedish massage to a much more intense technique, such as Rolfing, that is used to realign the body and restructure muscular and connective tissues. The therapist’s hands are the primary tools used in massage, but there are a variety of other devices and tools that may be used to help meet therapeutic goals.

What is it like to be a massage therapist?

The career of a massage therapist is as varied as each individual therapist and all therapists’ days are certainly not the same. As a massage therapist you may spend your days working in a day spa, on a cruise ship, doing out calls in office buildings, or working with professional sports teams. The possibilities are endless.

How do I become a massage therapist?

The requirements for a massage therapist are different, depending on where you live. Almost all states require some sort of education, but this varies greatly from only about 250 hours to over 5000 hours. It’s best to check your state’s requirements, and then find a school accordingly. The cost of schooling also greatly varies, but most schools do offer some sort of financial aid. In addition to educational requirements, there are licensing and certification requirements that also vary by state. Some states require no license or certification, while other states require massage certification as well as licensing in each city that you would like to work. Depending upon where you live, your state may also require you to participate in continuing education to maintain your licensure.

What are the job opportunities for massage therapists?

One of the great things about a career in massage therapy is that the job opportunities are endless. You have the option of deciding whether you would like to work for someone else or on your own, full time or part time, or in just one location or several.
Some of the people and places that hire massage therapists are:
• Day spas
• Chiropractors
• Doctors
• Physical Therapists
• Hospitals
• Clinics
• Gyms
• Professional sports teams
• Country clubs
• Offices and large corporations
• Cruise ships

There are even many massage therapists that specialize in unique areas (a fantastic marketing strategy). For example, there is equine massage (massaging horses), animal massage (massaging pets) and other specialties such as massage designed specifically towards the needs of musicians. There really is no limit to the areas that can benefit from massage and a smart therapist will attempt to find a sector that has less massage available and market themselves directly towards it.

How much are massage therapists paid?

A career in massage therapy can be extremely profitable. A one hour massage can cost the client anywhere from $35 to over $120 or more. The price depends on several factors; including your location, the massage technique, and in what type of facility you practice in. Of course the actual pay to the massage therapist varies as well, depending on whether you are self-employed or employed by someone else and what sort of contract you have with your employer. Some massage therapists are paid per hour, while others are given a percentage of the cost of the massage plus any tips. For self-employed therapists, keep in mind that the money made from an hour long massage, for example, $80 includes all of the overheads. These are expenses such as rent for the space, utilities, laundry services etc. Thus, income in massage therapy can be quite variable, especially until you have established a client base.

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