- Alternative & Natural Medicine
Massage Therapist Careers
Becoming a certified and licensed massage therapist will open the door to many interesting career opportunities. Massage therapists are employed not just at spas and salons, but at fitness centers, chiropractic offices, cruise ships and hotels, and in alternative health care practices. Some are even employed in corporate wellness centers. Massage therapist careers rarely conform to the typical 40 hour work week and provide lots of schedule flexibility.
If you begin your massage therapy training assuming that you will work in one field, you may find a specialty area that suits your style more favorably. Even if you are planning to start your own massage therapy business, it is helpful to know what areas you could possibly specialize in down the road and plan you massage therapy training accordingly.
Massage Therapist Careers
Here are some of the possibilities in massage therapist careers:
Spas: Typically a massage therapist will need to know basic Swedish massage, as well as deep tissue massage. Learning specialty massage treatments such as hot stone therapy can be advantageous. If you are interested in doing spa treatments such as body wraps and scrubs, weekend continuing education classes are available in most geographic locations.
Sports massage: Work on staff for a sports team, at a gym or fitness center or in private practice. Requires special sports massage training. Training in active isolated stretching is also useful.
Deep Tissue Massage Specialist: Deep tissue massage is used in spas, chiropractic offices and anywhere where clients are in need of chronic pain treatment. A must have for private practice!
Infant Massage: Learn and teach infant massage to new parents at hospitals and birthing centers or for new mom support groups. Infant massage also requires specialty training that is not offered in most therapeutic massage training programs.
Corporate Chair Massage / On-Site Massage: This type of massage has gained popularity over the past years as large corporations have implemented wellness programs to benefit their employees. Typically paid for by the company, the massage therapist performs a 10-15 minute mini-massages to corporate clients in a specially designed massage chair.
Hospitality: Work on a cruise ship, hotel or vacation resort. This is a perfect job for a massage therapist who loves to travel.
Geriatric Massage: Massage is incredibly helpful for managing chronic pain and easing depression in geriatric patients. This is one of the least-served areas and wide open for new, compassionate massage therapists.
Chiropractic Massage: Work on site for a chiropractor doing trigger point, neuromuscular therapy, isolated stretching or deep tissue massage. This is a wonderful way for a new massage therapist to get experience working with specific muscle groups with guidance from a doctor. In some states, this type of massage is covered by insurance. You can be paid by the specific client or by the chiropractor.
Massage Therapist Careers: Specialty Training
Most massage therapists have a personal area of interest that determines the direction of their career. Do you feel called to help people in chronic pain? Or is your priority helping people relax? Do you prefer working with the elderly or in a medical environment? Or would you be more comfortable in a spa environment with low lights and soft music?
Where ever you choose to work, there are some specialty massage disciplines that might interest you along the way. The more you know as a massage therapist, the more marketable you are to clients and prospective employers.
Consider specialty training in:
- Shiatsu / Acupressure: Although this is standard in many massage school curriculums, not all states require it.
- Lymph Massage / Lymphatic Drainage
- Cranio – Sacral Therapy: This is an amazingly powerful but gentle form of bodywork. It focuses on adjusting and aligning the bones of the skull and sacrum.
- Visceral Massage: Focuses on massaging the organs of the abdomen.
- Energy Work: Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Polarity Therapy, Chakra Balancing
- Equine Massage: If you are a horse lover, there is a huge market in some areas for equi-massage therapists. People are not the only creatures who can benefit from massage!
- Rolfing / Structural Integration: Rolfing requires in-depth training and certification that may be more demanding than traditional massage therapy training. Rolfing realigns the body through manipulation of the connective tissue (muscles and surrounding fascia).
- Reflexology: Reflexology training is standard in some massage school curriculums, but if your training doesn’t include reflexology, consider taking a weekend continuing education class to learn this relaxing and marketable modality.
Massage therapist careers offer flexibility to the practitioner and a wide variety of possibilities to expand and grow in your knowledge and skills for years to come. You are sure to enjoy your challenging and rewarding career as a massage therapist!