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How to Have a Career in Massage Therapy

Updated on April 23, 2018
HeatherBlesh profile image

Heather is an Author, Illustrator and Jill of all Trades. She has several career certification achievements, in multiple industries.

Use your hands to heal
Use your hands to heal

Certification and procedures

If you want a career in Massage Therapy there are several ways you can go about it. Most people do not know that in some states you may actually practice massage without certification just as long as you have a business license and purchase liability insurance.

However, there are reasons for getting certification even with this being said. When you are certified to Practice Massage therapy your earning potential is greater. You will know more ways to take care of your client and keep them happy. If you want to work with another company and not for yourself the likelihood of you getting hired is much greater based on experience. If you choose to go into business for yourself then you show that you are in a legitimate business, and thereby keeping authorities suspicions to a minimum as to your genuine intentions. Some massage parlors will practice what is know as sexual massage which is considered prostitution and is, of course, illegal.

There are three educational options to practice Massage with Certification:


1) Massage Practitioner Certificate

To achieve the Massage Practitioner Certificate takes the least amount of time and cost. You need at least 210 hours in class time, and would spend about 6-12 months to complete your training. You would be taking classes such as Therapeutic Massage I, Fitness Anatomy and Kinesiology, Massage Therapy Skills lab, and have 50 hours of supervised and 50 hours of unsupervised practicum. Which totals to 100 hours of hands on massage practice.

2) Certificate of Achievement in Massage Therapy

This option requires you to have 728-824 hours of Educational Curriculum (roughly 28-30 units) and would take about 16-24 months to complete depending on whether you choose to go to school full time or part-time. The training is much more extensive and, of course, costs more than a Massage Practitioner Certificate. Classes you would be required to take in order to fulfill you certificate are: Therapeutic Massage I, Therapeutic Massage II, Massage Therapy Skills Lab, Advanced First Aid and Emergency Care, Health Psychology, Basic Human Anatomy & Physiology, Fitness Anatomy & Kinesiology, Sports Massage, and Clinical Massage.You also have a choice of additional classes to include in your curriculum for credit such as: Healthy Licing, Medical Terminology, Nutrition, Prevention & Care of Athletic Injuries, Personal Fitness, Weight Training, Core Matwork, Tai Chi, Yoga, Dance Aerobics I & II, Circuit Training, Flexibility & Relaxation Techniques, Fitness through Swimming I & II, and Fitness Exercise Physiology.

3) Associate of Science Degree in Massage Therapy

This option takes the longest and holds the highest level of Certification because you would also have a degree. In order to achieve this goal you would have to complete all the requirements for the Certificate of Achievement, General Education Requirements and at-least 11-14 credits of electives in order to receive your degree. That means 60 units and would take 24 or more months to complete.

Expenses

The following are basic expenses you can expect to pay for:

  • Materials

    • lotions
    • oils
    • sheets
    • comfortable clothing
    • Binders
    • Notebooks
    • Pens/Pencils
    • Erasers
    • Highlighters
    • Massage Table

      NOTE: Purchasing your own massage table is a MUST before you begin your massage career. However, while you are in school, you may delay this purchase as you will be doing your massage practices primarily on school grounds during class and lab session, utilizing the massage tables of your school. I purchased my own table my very first semester. I have posted a link to the same type of table I purchased on Amazon below. The price is very reasonable for someone who is just beginning massage.
  • Lab Fees
  • Books
  • Tuition (pay per unit for each class you take)
  • Student Body Fee
  • Parking Fee
  • Admission Fee (When first enrolling)


    When you look at all the expenses it can become pretty overwhelming. Luckily there are programs available to help with College tuition as long as you enroll into an accredited college.

After you have chosen a college be sure to make an appointment with the school Counselor to discuss your options and visit the financial center. They will have information available for you so that you may apply for funding.
A great website for reference information and would ultimately become your financial portal is called FAFSA.



Working as a Massage Practitioner or Massage Therapist

After you have completed your education and certification for your career as a Massage Practitioner or Massage Therapist you then have a few options on where you can work.

Option 1 Work independently.

You can begin advertising your services in the community and start your own business. You can rent space, rent/share space with another practitioner/service professional, or offer mobile massage where you come to the client. You will have to decide on either an hourly rate, or a 'by service' rate. This will depend on you, the local market rate, your skills, the supplies you choose, and rent or travel amount that must be covered. If you offer more detailed or specialized services or if you purchase a higher quality brand of product, then you will be able to charge a higher rater. Remember to ensure you keep a detailed finance record as well as keep to your appointments. Organization is key, and following up with already acquired clients offering specials or incentives will gain you additional clients. Remain professional at all times.

Option 2 Work for Someone else
The great thing about going to work for someone else in this career field is that there is already an established clientele for you to work with. If you are not a self starter, or the idea of going into business for yourself is too scary then this is the option best suited for you. Another great part of having an employee status is that you do not have to worry about paying for rental space, taxes are less complicated, and you do not have to spend extra time marketing or advertising your skills. It is a good start for getting your feet wet in the massage career. The downside is that you will make less money per hour, because the majority of the funds will go to your employer.

Relieve headaches with massage

A Rewarding Career

A career is Massage Therapy can be quite rewarding. If you enjoy helping others and like working with your hands then finding a career in Massage Therapy just might be what you are looking for. There are also perks. When you attend school you will be practicing on your fellow classmates. That also means...they will be practicing on you as well. Making friends with a Massage Therapist is major plus, and you will make plenty of friends in your quest for Certification. No matter what level you choose to achieve.

Places that hire Massage Therapists or Massage Practitioners

Massage Practices are incorporated into modern medicine and as a result you have more choices on where you can work. Here is a listing of places that are known to hire Massage Therapists or Massage Practitioners:

  • Chiropractor's Office
  • Physical Therapy Centers
  • Wellness Centers
  • Senior Rehabilitation Centers
  • Hospitals with Respite Care
  • Spas
  • Full Service Hotels
  • Neurology Offices

    A majority of these locations will offer full-time positions. Some of these locations might give an offer of 'On-call' or part-time status which might be a better option for someone who would rather work a variance of 2-5 days on each given week so as not to burn out.

Practical Advise for New Massage Practitioners or Massage Therapists

Practicing massage therapy can wear on your body. Here are some tips for healthy living as a Massage Practitioner or Massage Therapist:

  • Take a daily Vitamin
  • Incorporate daily stretches and exercise in your routine
  • Minimize or illuminate fried, greasy, or fatty foods
  • Consume a significant amount of Protein specific to your body's needs
  • Eat plenty of leafy greens
  • Eat oats on a regular basis
  • Get a minimum of 6 hours but no more than 8 hours of sleep each day
  • Enjoy the simplicities in life
  • Do not let small things stress you out
  • Avoid negative, or insensitive conversations or ideas
  • Wash your hands often


Remember, in order to heal others you must first seek to heal and revive yourself. You must take care of your body. Eating the right foods, having a positive attitude, great hygiene, and the proper amount of rest will keep your body happy, healthy, and ready to go. So you can continue doing what you love: Helping and healing others.

Thank you for reading!

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