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The Pros of Being a Self-Employed Massage Therapist

Updated on May 31, 2018
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Leeann Hysaw has earned 11 years of experience in massage therapy having graduated from Lincoln Technical Institute in 2007.

Self-employment

There are many great features to being a self-employed massage therapist. While working for yourself, you can enjoy flexibility in the techniques you learn, the services you provide, and scheduling. You will also be able to keep a larger proportion of the profits. All these good points can help persuade you to become self-employed. Each provides the therapist with a great variety of benefits that can help you reach your goals and be happier in your work.

List of Pros

  • Flexible schedule
  • Focusing your learning on your own interest
  • Picking the services you provide
  • Greater ability to focus on specific clientele
  • Ability to exercise your right to refusal
  • Ability to chose who you work alongside, picking your coworkers, if any.
  • Setting your own prices
  • Receiving more of the profits
  • Work from home potential

Flexible Schedule

A person's working schedule can be challenging no matter what job they have. Often the hardest part of working is the inability to choose your hours or request time off when needed. These problems can be alleviated, however, when someone is self-employed. Though aspects of self-employment can create more work in certain respects, there exists a bit more flexibility to choose how you book clients, allowing you to build free time into your schedule. One could do as little as choose when to take lunch or as much as blacking out two weeks for vacation when they need it. They will not have to suffer the experience of putting in for time off and having to wait and hope for approval.

Focusing Your Learning on Your Own Interest

When a massage therapist leaves school, it is not the end of their learning career. Going to continuing education courses are vital for expanding a persons knowledge and helping them learn new skills which they can utilize in their massage practice. Every therapist has interest all their own, certain types of massage they gravitate towards over others, and these can lead them to pursue specific continuing education courses. When working for themselves, massage therapists can pursue these interests freely, letting them evolve their practice as they see fit.

Picking the Services You Provide

Once a therapist can focus on their interest in the massage field they then can enjoy even greater freedom with their careers by being able to pick the services they provide. Some businesses specialize in specific services, or forms of massage, and often require their therapists to perform those types whether the therapist wants to or not. While working for yourself, however, those choices are left up to you. If you do not care for standard basalt hot stone work but love reflexology then you can focus on giving your clients the best reflexology massage possible while never worrying about picking up another basalt stone. A therapist’s mental attitude can often be reflected in their massage, so an unhappy therapist is not likely to perform a good massage even when they are trying their best, so it's always beneficial to practice the forms of massage you enjoy the most.

Greater Ability to Focus on Specific Clientele

When a therapist works for an employer, they are often asked to perform massage on a broad range of clientele, from children to people with medical conditions, even when they are not comfortable with their knowledge of the massage needed. The truth is, while most people can benefit from massage, not all therapists are qualified to perform the massage. I have worked for more than 11 years in the massage field, and in that time other therapists have expressed to me their discomfort when an employer insists on them performing prenatal massage when they have never taken classes for it. In my state, there is no law against administering prenatal massage without a prenatal certification and with no regulation in place, it is not illegal for a therapist to provide prenatal massage without certification as long as they are a generally licensed therapist, and the client's doctor has cleared them for massage. This can put therapists in an uncomfortable situation, and while some employers are understanding, others are not. If you are a self-employed therapist, however, you will not have to worry about it since you will be able to choose what groups of the population you work with just like you were able to select the techniques you use and the classes you take. It’s all up to you when you work for yourself. For instance, if you enjoy working with the elderly than you have the power to create your practice centered around helping them.

Ability to Exercise Right to Refusal

A therapist's feelings of anxiety while working with a client should never be ignored. A person, regardless of their occupation, has the right to feel safe at work. There are people and situations in this world that make us feel insecure. However, employers do not always do the best job of helping us feel better. I once worked with a woman who told a former employer of her's that she felt unsafe when a particular client was in her room. The client made inappropriate comments to her and made what sounded like threats on her boyfriend. He asked personal questions an alluded that he might be waiting outside her boyfriend's work one day. She was scared, and she went to her boss, and her boss told her that if he, the employer, didn't see it happen, then it didn’t happen. He said her, not only could he do nothing about it, but if the client requested her again, she would have to continue working with him. She could still have refused to perform the massage, but she was afraid that, if she did he would fire her, and she needed her job.


I have heard many stories like this, and it is unfair and unsafe. When the door to the massage room closes, it is not just the clients who may feel vulnerable. The great thing about working for yourself is, you will be able to refuse to book those who make you feel unsafe, without being afraid of a boss or manager firing you, because you are the boss. You should never have to be fearful of repercussions for refusing to see a client who makes you that uncomfortable. You should have the right to refusal at all times, regardless of whether you are self-employed or working for someone else.

Setting Your Prices and Receiving the Profits

Some of the most desired and preferred aspects of owning your own business revolves around money. Even when working as a massage therapist, money plays a significant role in the decisions a person makes. Some establishments are reasonable with the amount of money they pay their therapists, and then there are those who are not. Sometimes getting out on your own is an excellent way to increase your profits since you will be able to set your prices and then keep all the benefits. Of course, you will have more expenses, however, setting your rates and retaining the profits can help offset this. A person working for a massage chain may receive less than 20 percent of the cost of the massage meaning out of the 100 dollars charged for a standard massage the business will keep about 80-85 dollars and the therapist with receive only 20-15 of it. When working for yourself, the whole amount will be for your pocket and your business which is always a great boon when you are putting so much time, effort and care into your career and the clients you care for.

Work From Home Potential

Aside from money, there is yet another common reason some massage therapist chooses to head out and open their own business, and that is due to the great work from home potential. It can be difficult having to travel to and from work each day since you must be sure to have a reliable form of transportation and you often must contend with weather conditions. Living in New England, I can tell you that weather is a constantly changing and often dangerous factor when trying to get to work, and no one wants to be late or let down a client who was hoping to see them. If a therapist is self-employed, however, they are often able to allow clients to come to their home for the session. Of course, this depends on where you live and the rules and regulations in the area but the opportunity to work out of your home is an enticing benefit hard to pass up for most people. You wouldn’t have to worry about weather, transportation, or paying rent for a studio somewhere else.

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      John and Linda Ballard 

      21 months ago

      Very informative and well written. This would help someone who is thinking of going into business on their own. Loved this article.

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