How to Become a Massage Therapist

For many, work in message therapy can sound like a dream come true. You get to use your own body to help others feel good in theirs. You’ll be able to assist a broad range of customers including those that just want to relax to individuals that find massage necessary for every day pain management. No matter what their need it’s an incredible feeling to know you’re helping others and getting paid for it.

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Massage Therapy Schools

What is a massage therapist?

Taking a deeper look into the work of a massage therapist, or masseuse, you will find that they are a health profession. These professionals give massages to clients that are usually seeking one of three things, help with physical therapy, pain relief from health problems, or to relieve stress that compounds over time. As a massage therapist your goal would be to help these clients reduce their pain and inflammation, assist in healing their injuries, and to create a sense of rejuvenation and relaxation.

What types of duties will I perform?

The most common duties will be a range of client evaluation, discussing and explaining the massage options available, and giving soothing guidance to help the visitor relax. The evaluation process will usually be fairly simple. Clients can come in with a referral from doctors, or they may come in on their own. Either way you will be able to discuss with them their worries and concerns about their body so that you can distinguish the best course of action. Each session will be tailored to the specific client so you should always ask them if they feel that they have any particular areas that are causing them trouble or pain. Once you are informed you can focus on healing those areas so that your customer can leave feeling their very best.

Where will I end up working?

There are a variety of places you could end up finding work. The most common include spas, fitness centers, or even a medical facility. A lot of the work you find may be part-time and it may be necessary to adjust your work hours to suit your client’s particular schedule. Additionally, massage can be hard work and you can expect to stand for hours on end and your body will need to be able to handle repetitive motions. It is not uncommon for massage therapists to end up with stress injuries and carpal tunnel from the constant use of their bodies.

What is requires to become a massage therapist?

The main requirement to become a therapist is the completion of a training program. The programs are 500 hours and will train you in everything you need to know in order to conduct the job. At the end of the training you will have a massage therapist license that permits you to work in the industry.

It is possible to continue past the license and acquire a degree in massage therapy or clinical massage therapy but it is not absolutely necessary for practicing massage.

Keep in mind that when you start to pursue your license that some of the key skills for a therapist to have are positive communication skills, physical strength and stamina for the repeated work you will be doing with your clients, and an ability to empathize and understand the pain that some of your clients will be feeling.

On average most massage therapists will make somewhere around $37,000 per year. You could end up making more or less depending on a few key factors such as, where you end up employed and your amount of experience. As you gain experience you could end up working in more prestigious environments that will pay you more than the base wage.

More on the Training Programs Available:

It is a requirement that you must complete a training program in order to work as a massage therapist. The training programs can be offered either as certificate or diploma programs and can usually be found through a community college or other technical schools. In order to take one of the training programs you will need to hold a high school diploma or a GED. The good news is that most of the massage programs can be completed in less than a year which means you could be pursuing your new profession very quickly.

During the training you will have a blended curriculum that includes helpful on-the-job training. You will be granted the opportunity to practice your new knowledge as you learn through hand-on sessions with actual clients. The courses will include a variety of holistic health lessons, medical massage, reflexology, and physical studies. You may also be able to select some more specialized techniques to study including different types of massage such as Swedish, Thai, prenatal, and deep tissue.

You should also know that depending on where you live or where you plan on working the requirements to practice massage can vary. As an example: If you receive your license in one state and then decide to move to another and still want to practice massage, you may be required to take further courses.

Before you can take the license exam you must complete 500 hours or training. The exam is called the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination, or the MBLEx. The training program you enroll in will prepare you for this exam and by the time you have completed your 500 hours you shouldn’t have any trouble passing.

Depending you where you go to school you may even receive job placement once you pass the test and acquire your license. They can assist you in finding work through the variety of places mentioned above or you may choose to open your very own business. It is also possible to work fully independently and travel to the location of your clients, somewhat like a traveling massage therapist.

If you want to continue your training but don’t want a full degree you might consider a voluntary certification. You can further your training and expertise through some voluntary board programs such as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, otherwise referred to as the NCBTMB. These qualification will require 750 hours of training, 250 hours of actual work experience, and a passing score on the exam.

An aspect you may not have considered yet is that your license will need to be renewed periodically. On average you will need to renew about every two years by passing a new background check, keeping current CPR certification, and having completed your 24 hours of continued education. Continued education can be beneficial as it keeps you current on new trends and will further your skills and expertise. There is usually a list of approved course providers but you will be able to select the course you wish to take. The courses may be anywhere from somatic psychology to ergonomics. You will also need to provide proof that you have worked at least 100 hours over the last two years. That should be fairly simple if you keep consistent client records and are actually practicing massage.

How is the Industry Doing?

The industry is actually doing very well. Massage is becoming more and more recognized as a useful tool for aiding the health and wellness of those in pain. Additionally, the number of actual massage therapists has also risen to meet the demand. In the United States alone there are an estimated 300,000 to 340,000 though the number does include current students that may or may not actually end up practicing.

There are also upwards of 350 individual accredited massage therapy institutes and schools to select from. In total that means that there are more than 700 campuses that you could go to for your license. Some institutes will even have multiple campuses so that you can select the one that is most convenient for you.

If you want to get a jump start but aren’t quite ready for the actual training program, you might want to consider learning subjects such as anatomy, physiology, business, and humanities as all are helpful later.

What about joining a Professional Association?

It is highly suggested that once you have your license you join a professional association. The most common in the United States is the American Massage Therapy Association. The AMTA as it is often referred to as is a nonprofit professional association that was first established in 1943 by massage therapists in order to aid other massage therapists. The main goal of the association is to serve the members while continuing to advance the “art, science, and practice or massage therapy.” The association does have a code of ethics and standards of practice that those in the association must follow but these are general moral standards that you should already be well aware of as a massage therapist.

The American Massage Therapy Association has a variety of memberships to cover all types of massage therapists including professional, student, graduate, school, and supporting. While you could join a professional association as a student it is mostly beneficial once you have your license or are close to acquiring one.

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