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Massage Therapist Career Guide

Are you physically strong, powerful and want to help treat others? Do you like the idea of being self-employed and having excellent autonomy?

If the answers yes, then you may be suited to a career in massage therapy. Massage therapy can be used to treat a wide range of illnesses and issues – massage therapists have the ability to treat patients using the power of touch.

To become a massage therapists, a high school diploma is needed. Massage therapists will then need to complete education programs in private or public postsecondary institutions.

 

I get to help people feel better internally, emotionally, and spiritually. There are very few jobs out there that allow you to do this, and massage therapy is one of them. People come to me with all different types of issues and from all walks of life. Some people have recently been through a divorce, are extremely stressed with work and kids, or are recovering from surgery. Whatever it is, I get to help them through it and put them on the path to a successful recovery. I give, where so many others and other activities take.

Rachel Summers

Massage Therapist Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Massage Therapist Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Massage Therapist field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33839 Licensed Massage Therapist Male 22 $30,000 vancouver, WA 01/01/2010
33811 Licensed Massage Therapist Female 39 $20,000 Woodstock, NY 01/01/2010
33295 Massage Therapist Female 29 $30,000 avondale, AZ 01/01/2010
32762 President - Owner Female 45 $100,000 Riverwoods, IL 01/01/2010

Overview

What a massage therapist actually does

Massage therapists help and heal patients through the power of touch. Massage therapy can be used to treat a wide range of illnesses and issues, such as anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, strains, injuries, headaches, stress, and pain. It is a highly sought-after treatment that relaxes, rejuvenates, and heals the body. During the course of a massage, a therapist may use their hands, fingers, forearms, and elbows to manipulate a patient’s muscles and soft tissues. The typical duties and responsibilities of a massage therapist include:

  • Talking with clients about their symptoms and desired results
  • Checking a clients medical history
  • Evaluating clients to locate their painful or tense area(s) of the body
  • Manipulating muscles and other soft tissues of the body using various techniques
  • Providing clients with guidance on stretching, strengthening, overall relaxation, and how to improve their posture
  • Documenting a clients’ conditions and progress
  • Referring clients to other specialists if needed

Why they are needed

People use massage therapy for a variety of health-related purposes, such as relieving pain, reducing stress, increasing relaxation, rehabilitating sports injuries, aiding general wellness and addressing anxiety and depression. Massage therapists have the unique skills to aid and support people with a who have these disorders and improve their quality of life.

Overall, there is evidence to suggest that massage therapy has some plausible medical benefits, even if they are inconsistent. More importantly, the emotional value of touch and the effects on mood and mental health are profound. Good quality massage therapy is a worthwhile service for anyone who can afford it whether it “works” as a treatment or not.

Pros and cons of a career in massage therapy:

Pros:

  • There is great freedom and flexibility in being a massage therapist. It is a schedule that works particularly well for those who don’t like the idea of a typical 9 to 5 job
  • No two days are the same and there is a great amount of variety in each day as massage therapists get to with lots of different people, which keeps it exciting
  • It is a highly satisfying, fulfilling and rewarding career as massage therapists get to help people with all sorts of issues
  • Massage therapists can earn good hourly rates and are in control of how much they earn

Cons:

  • There are often no fixed hours for a massage therapist. Somedays you can work all the way through from 6am to 8pm, others there might be a big gap with no clients during the middle of the day. With this can also come an unstable income as you might not work the same hours each week
  • It can be a frustrating when the patient you are working with doesn’t listen to the advice you give
  • It is a physically demanding job – massage therapists will be on their feet all day and will have to use their hands, which can be tiring
  • Massage therapists often have to work antisocial hours, including weekends, early mornings and late evenings

Employability

Job market

The Bureau of labor statistics predicts that the employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 21 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

This employment growth is expected because more states are expected to adopt licensing requirements and standards for massage therapists. This will make the practice of massage more respected and more people will use it as a way to treat pain and to improve overall wellness. Similarly, demand will likely increase as more healthcare providers understand the benefits of massage and these services become part of treatment plans. However, demand in some healthcare settings will be tempered by limited insurance coverage for massage services.

Sports teams will continue to use massage therapists to help their athletes rehabilitate from injuries and to relieve or manage pain. Finally, the number of massage clinic franchises has increased in recent years. Many franchised clinics offer more affordable massages than those provided at spas and resorts, making massage services available to a wider range of customer and therefore increasing the demand.

Career paths

The career path to becoming a qualified massage therapist varies greatly by state or locality. Typically, massage therapists complete education programs in private or public postsecondary institutions. Most of these programs require at least 500 hours of study, but some will require more than 1,000 hours.

In order to get accepted onto the massage therapy programs, a high school diploma or equivalent is usually required. During their time study, aspiring massage therapist will receive classroom teaching and hands-on practice of massage techniques. Programs cover subjects such as anatomy; physiology, which is the study of organs and tissues; kinesiology, which is the study of motion and body mechanics; pathology, which is the study of disease; business management; and ethics.

Programs may concentrate on certain modalities, or specialties, of massage. Several programs also offer job placement services and continuing education. Both full-time and part-time programs are available.

Example Job Titles for Massage Therapist

Below is a list of common job titles in the Massage Therapist field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labour statistics, the median wage per year for a massage therapist in the United States is $42,820, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $80,630 and the lowest 10 percent earning less than $21,810 per annum.

The highest paying industry was offices of chiropractors, where the median annual salary was $52,230. This was followed by offices of all other health practitioners ($46,670), personal care services ($40,380), personal care services ($40,380) and accommodation ($30,160).

Massage therapists may receive tips, which can enhance their annual wage. They may also receive free or discounted massages as a benefit.

Autonomy and Flexibility

The levels of autonomy and flexibility for a massage therapist will vary greatly depending on their experience or their position. Massage therapists who work for themselves, or those who are responsible for managing their own clients, will have control over their decisions – which gives them greater autonomy and the flexibility to control their working day. Similarly, those who have years of experience will be better able to treat and diagnose their patients. This, again, gives them great autonomy. Massage therapists who work for large companies, where their services are booked by administrators, will have less control over how they spend their day.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a massage therapist, based on average annual salary and number of jobs available, are:

  1. Massachusetts, where the average annual salary is $60,999
  2. Pennsylvania, where the average annual salary is $59,714
  3. New York, where the average annual salary is $61,651
  4. New Jersey, where the average annual salary is $62,359
  5. Alaska, where the average annual salary is $81,304

The worst states to be a massage therapist, according to Zippia, are Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Wyoming and Montana,

Work environment

35% of massage therapists in the United States are self-employed workers. 33% are employed by personal care services, 11% are employed by offices of all other health practitioners, 8% are employed by offices of chiropractors and 6% are employed by accommodation.

Some massage therapist will travel to their clients homes or offices to give a massage. Others will have clients come to their home to receive massages. To set this up, massage therapists will need their own table, sheets, pillows and lotions. If massage therapists are focusing on relaxation, they may work in dimly lit settings and use candles, incense and soothing music. Massage therapists who work to rehabilitate clients with injuries will tend to work in well-lit settings that appear more medical.

Being a massage therapists is physically demanding. Repetitive-motion problems and fatigue from standing for extended periods are common.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Massage Therapist careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Massage Therapist career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Massage Therapist.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

The exact personality types that make a successful massage therapists are yet to be explored. However, it is likely that successful massage therapists are likely to be ENFP personality types. These types tend to have excellent people skills and are passionate and engaging communicators. They are bubbly and fun-loving and love to connect with all sorts of people – which are exactly the skills needed to create trusting and welcoming working environment. ENFPs are also passionate about others.

Accomplishment and mastery

Massage therapists will use their skills and knowledge to help others. Their clients will leave the their services with improved conditions and less issues. This will leave massage therapists feeling accomplished and like they have mastered many useful skills.

Meaning and contribution

Massage therapy can be used to treat a wide range of conditions and issues, such as anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, strains, injuries, headaches, stress, and pain. It is a highly sought-after treatment that relaxes, rejuvenates, and heals the body. Therefore, massage therapists play a highly meaningful contribution to the lives of many people.

Life fit

Many massage therapists work part time. Generally speaking, massage therapists hours will vary each week because therapists work by appointment in most cases. Moreover, because of the strength and endurance needed to give a massage, many therapists cannot perform massage services 8 hours per day, 5 days per week.In addition to giving massages, therapists, especially those who are self-employed, may spend time recording clients’ notes, marketing, booking clients, washing linens, and conducting other general business tasks.

Who will thrive in this career?

  • People who are genuinely passionate and enthusiastic about helping others and treating their conditions and illnesses
  • People who like a flexible working schedule, even if it can be unpredictable and unstable at times
  • Those who like to constantly learn and advance their skill set
  • Those who love interacting and working with all types of people
  • Those who have a business mindset and are motivated to achieve
  • Those who are passionate about maintaining personal hygiene

Who will struggle in this career?

  • People who don’t enjoy social interaction and prefer to work alone
  • Those who are looking for a stable and secure income and working schedule
  • Those who are not passionate about helping others
  • Those who have no interest in continuous learning and professional development

Requirements

Skills and talents

The typical skills and talents required a massage therapist include:

  • Customer-service skills, as a massage therapist will only be truly successful if they manage to get repeat clients. To do this, massage therapists must develop a relationship with paying customers
  • Physical strength, as massage therapists need to be strong and able to exert pressure through a variety of movements of the arms
  • Dexterity, as massage therapists need to use their hands to manipulate a client’s muscles
  • Empathy, as massage therapists must give clients a positive experience, and therefore must be understanding and able to build trusting relationships
  • Sales skills will also come in handy as massage therapists must be able to sell their services to potential clients
  • Communication skills, as massage therapists need to listen carefully to clients in order to understand what they want to achieve through massage sessions
  • Problem-solving skills, as massage therapists need to be able to detect issues with their clients and give the correct treatment for these

Education

To become a qualified massage therapist, you will need to complete education programs in private or public postsecondary institutions. In order to get accepted onto the massage therapy programs, a high school diploma or equivalent is usually required.

Certifications

In 2016, 45 states and the District of Columbia regulated massage therapy. In states with massage therapy regulations, workers must get a license or certification before practicing massage therapy. State regulations typically require graduation from an approved massage therapy program and passing an exam. The exam may be a state-specific exam or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) licensure exam, offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

Massage therapists also may need to pass a background check, have liability insurance, and be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Many states require massage therapists to complete continuing education credits and to renew their license periodically.

How to Become

Summary

Massage therapy can be used to treat a wide range of illnesses and issues, such as anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, strains, injuries, headaches, stress, and pain. It is a highly sought-after treatment that relaxes, rejuvenates, and heals the body. Massage therapists have the very important job of treating patients using the power of touch.

Immediate action

To kick start a career in massage therapy, we recommend finding postsecondary courses near you. It will also be helpful to work on your own physical strength, so that you can give the best quality massages.

Education and learning

Massage therapists need to complete education programs in private or public postsecondary institutions. In order to get accepted onto the massage therapy programs, a high school diploma or equivalent is usually required.

Skill development

Whilst working as a massage therapist, there are many opportunities for skill development and career progression. Many massage therapists continue to take courses throughout their career to increase their knowledge and skills in a particular area (e.g., rehabilitation, relaxation).

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Massage Therapist careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33839 Licensed Massage Therapist Male 22 $30,000 vancouver, WA 01/01/2010
33811 Licensed Massage Therapist Female 39 $20,000 Woodstock, NY 01/01/2010
33295 Massage Therapist Female 29 $30,000 avondale, AZ 01/01/2010
32762 President - Owner Female 45 $100,000 Riverwoods, IL 01/01/2010

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