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Massage Therapist Careers

Updated on October 3, 2011

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 therapy careers: Spa and relaxation massage.
Massage therapy careers: Spa and relaxation massage.

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: Onsite / corporate chair massage
Massage therapist careers: Onsite / corporate chair massage

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!

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    • restrelax profile image

      restrelax 6 years ago from Los angeles CA

      Wow fantastic hub information. I love it.

    • profile image

      Massage Therapist 7 years ago

      If you have a good experience and educational qualifications degree then you can earn a good amount of money as a massage therapist. A massage Therapist can earn $ 60 per hour. The requirements of massage therapists being increased day by day. There are many places where massage therapist can work. A massage therapist can start their own clinic or you can work at massage parlor, fitness centre, physical therapy offices and many more places.

    • profile image

      massage business 7 years ago

      Be sure to choose a reputable and thorough course to best suit the massage therapist career for you.

    • profile image

      siby 8 years ago

      thanks

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Katrina!

    • profile image

      Katrina Sui 8 years ago

      Very informative hub. Well done amy jane..

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks myawn! Hot stone massage is very relaxing - a definite treat.:)

    • myawn profile image

      myawn 8 years ago from Florida

      This sounds like a good career especially if you are a people person. I have had a massage with the hot stones and it really helped relieve stress.Thanks very nice info.

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Prasadjain, thank you! I had no idea the training was so long for massage therapists in India. There is so much to learn in this field, that I think most therapists in the US continue their education for many years to come through weekend courses and part time classes. The longest program I know of in the US is 2 years.

      Hi Robert, When I did my training it was around 70% women. The field is definitely open to men and I think there are a lot of job opportunities in massage therapy for men. If you enjoy helping people feel better, you would love this job. I always enjoyed having clients thank me for helping them and then returning when they needed me!

    • Robertbloggert profile image

      Robertbloggert 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      Hey great information thanks. I was wondering did you see many men in this field? This is something I've always enjoyed doing for my wife, mother, sister and even sister in laws. You know how the man thing is so my brothers always shyed away. I have just always been a touchy kinda person and it always gives satisfaction helping someone feel better. Hey lets face we all tend to put our bodies thru a lot of stress some times and a good massage can really be relaxing!

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 8 years ago from Tumkur

      A good and useful article indeed. You have made sincere efforts to give compehensive information to those who can think of choosing this carrer. This also helps other readers to recognize the strain taken by massagers to train themselves.

      In india,A bachelor degree course is available to train people in such profession.Now those colleges are more.Ladies are also taking that course. It is a four year course.

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Steph! There are so many possibilities.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Great overview! I have a friend who is learning to be a massage therapist. I'll forward this to her.

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you both! There are so many career possibilities for massage therapists. It really is a great field to get into. :)

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 8 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      That's a whole lot more than I knew about this - thanks!

    • Philipo profile image

      Philipo 8 years ago from Nigeria

      Very informative and educative hub. Thanks.

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