How to Become a Massage Therapist (or) Masseuse

Massage therapy is defined as the manipulation of the body’s soft tissues and that includes joints, tendons, ligaments, connective tissues and muscles. It is actually a clinically based healthcare that works effectively in helping a person alleviate the much discomfort that is normally associated with occupational or everyday stress. It is highly gaining popularity because of the impact it has on people’s lives and that includes improving general health and wellbeing. Massage therapy has been confirmed to have the ability to treat both acute and chronic conditions and should never be taken for granted. This is a therapy that is done manually and there are so many types of massage therapy methods and is also referred to as modalities. Among the reasons why people choose massage therapy is so that they can reduce stress and anxiety, reduce pain, relax muscles etc. the two major categories of massage therapy are relaxation massage and rehabilitative massage.

What They Do?

what-massage-therapists-doIf you have been looking for a fulfilling and satisfying job then you should consider becoming a massage therapist because it aims at making people feel better. You will be using your unique set of tools and that is your hands to actually reduce stress, relieve pain, unwind bound-up muscles and generally bring wellness. Massage therapy in general has more than 80 types of treatments and the massage therapists normally have various ways to deliver relief. As a therapist you will have a chance to specialize in different areas e.g. sports massage, reflexology, acupressure, deep tissue etc. for a person to become a massage therapist you will need to become an expert in various modalities and each of them requires certain techniques and skills. An important thing to note is that there is an increasing number of people who are finding massage therapy quite appealing and is therefore a marketable career.

What massage therapists do is that they treat people using touch and this as mentioned is by manipulating the muscles and other soft tissues. They are skilled and qualified and when you visit one they will first discuss your symptoms, medical history, expectations and from there they are able to determine the best modalities to use. Much of what they use are their fingers, hands, elbows, forearms and feet which helps them knead the body with the application of oils and lotions. Massage therapists also offer advice on the type of exercise, stretching and relaxation techniques that one should follow as a way of fulfilling their lifestyle needs. All these are what makes massage therapy attractive, the fact that it encompasses so many aspects in one service. So generally, what a massage therapy should be able to do is heal through touch, de-stress and relax the body, get the patient’s body realigned and blood flowing through the system more openly. Apart from all that a good massage therapist should have a caring attitude and also show willingness to help other people. This is necessary as it’s what will help you to do the best for your patients and also be able to see results in their bodies.

In addition to the time massage therapists spend giving massages, they may also spend some of their time marketing, recording patient notes, booking clients, washing linens and other general tasks related to the business.

Work Environment

massage-therapist-workYou should know that in most cases, massage therapists work by appointment and that means their schedules and number of hours worked every week vary from time to time. In this career one works in different kind of settings and this includes both public and private. This you should know may require you to even offer services to clients at their homes or offices. Good examples of the places you are going to work in include hospitals, studios, nursing homes, private offices, airports, shopping malls, sports medicine facilities and fitness centers. You will actually notice that full-time massage therapists always divide their time among various settings and that is always depending on the clients and locations they are scheduled for.

There are massage therapists who are licensed and those who are not, the working environment for the licensed massage therapists can be completely different from the one who is not. When licensed you can be independent and that means you can work at your home, office or at the client’s home but the rest mostly work in spas, salons and at the chiropractors office. When working as a self-employed massage therapist you will definitely provide your own table or chair, pillows, sheets and oils or body lotions.

When looking at their working conditions, that normally depends on the client’s needs and also the location. If for example the massage is to rehabilitate a patient with an injury then it should be provided in a well-lit setting where other clients are also receiving treatment. If you are however offering a relaxing massage then you are likely to work in a dimly lit setting and also use candles, incense and some soothing music.

It really helps to be aware of the fact that massages therapy s always physically demanding and there are chances of the therapist injuring themselves if proper techniques are not used. Common experiences are that you will get fatigued from standing for long periods and there are also repetitive-motion problems. You can however minimize such risks by spacing sessions well, exercising, using good techniques and also getting a massage regularly. According to the nature of the job and also the time needed in between sessions, massage therapists are known to work for less than 40 hours per week. For a full-time worker you will be working approximately 15-30 hours per week.

How to Become a Massage Therapist?

how-to-become-a-massage-therapistAmong the reasons why people choose to become massage therapists include the flexibility it offers and this is in terms of independence, choice of practice locations and work hours. It is important to note that it is viewed as effective in the health and wellness professions and the reason why the number of massage therapists keeps growing from time to time. To qualify for a training program an individual requires a high school diploma but a post-secondary education is also useful.

To begin your journey into the field of massage therapy I would urge you to first do your research and determine whether it is something you would love to be a part of. After that, find a way to experience what it feels like to work as a massage therapist and this could entail going to a workshop and doing it practically. The truth is that massage therapy is a unique career and not everyone is cut out to be a therapist so find out first hand if you are really passionate about being one before pushing forward to enroll in a school. What is always important is not starting your schooling but rather finishing it so first analyze yourself to confirm your interest and then analyze the school and see if it is the best fit. A good way to learn more about the field is talking to a massage therapist as that will be an opportunity for you to ask as many questions as possible and it will give you an idea of the type of massage therapist you want to be. Apart from asking questions you could also get a massage to have the feel of what it is much about. There is also the option of researching online about the different types of massage. With all that knowledge in mind you will know what you want to specialize in as a massage therapist before you even begin studying.

With a high school education an individual can enroll in a formal accredited training program in massage therapy to gain the required knowledge and skills. In-case you are going through a certificate granting program then it will take you a year to complete but a degree program will go for two years. One can find these programs at their local community colleges and all they have to do is look for that which offers the best. Some of the subjects you are likely to study include therapeutic massage, clinical massage applications, anatomy and physiology, human function and structure and medical terminology.

Basically the whole process of becoming a massage therapist includes completing a training program at a massage therapy school as this is what qualifies you to practice in the chosen location. The required period of study is said to be between 330 and 100 hours and that is from weeks to two years.  After graduating you will be required to meet specific requirements of your state or municipality and that includes getting a license and much of this entails passing the massage and bodywork licensing exam. An important thing to note however is that, not every state has the same licensing requirements so it is your responsibility to check the regulatory board of your state to confirm that your massage therapy program meets the requirements.

List of Top 100 Massage Therapy Schools in the World:

Rank School Name Students % of Total Total On-Campus Cost
1 National Holistic Institute 665 97% N/A
2 National Massage Therapy Institute 442 97% N/A
3 Instituto de Banca y Comercio Inc 399 4% N/A
4 David’s Academy of Beauty 379 100% N/A
5 Utah College of Massage Therapy-Vegas 372 100% N/A
6 Praxis Institute 301 79% N/A
7 Santa Ana Beauty College 295 49% N/A
8 Utah College of Massage Therapy-Salt Lake City 288 90% N/A
9 Utah College of Massage Therapy-Tempe 273 85% N/A
10 Baltimore School of Massage-Linthicum 266 73% N/A
11 Dayton School of Medical Massage 262 100% $15,900
12 Utah College of Massage Therapy-Phoenix 215 74% N/A
13 Soma Institute-The National School of Clinical Massage Therapy 209 100% N/A
14 Florida College of Natural Health-Maitland 198 62% N/A
15 Utah College of Massage Therapy-Westminster 192 100% N/A
16 Irene’s Myomassology Institute 179 100% N/A
17 Cortiva Institute-Seattle 168 100% N/A
18 Utah College of Massage Therapy-Aurora 163 100% N/A
19 New York College of Health Professions 160 66% $15,459
20 Professional Hands Institute 158 100% $6,100
21 Utah College of Massage Therapy-Dallas 153 100% N/A
22 Swedish Institute a College of Health Sciences 151 89% $14,272
23 Cortiva Institute-Florida 140 100% $12,685
24 Florida Career College-Miami 138 3% $20,184
25 Cortiva Institute-Chicago 137 100% N/A
26 Cortiva Institute-Pennsylvania School of Muscle Therapy 135 100% N/A
27 Utah College of Massage Therapy-Utah Valley 129 100% N/A
28 Florida School of Massage 126 100% N/A
29 Colorado School of Healing Arts 125 100% $14,500
30 East West College of the Healing Arts 125 100% N/A
31 Cortiva Institute-Tucson 121 100% N/A
32 Healing Hands School of Holistic Health 119 100% N/A
33 Florida College of Natural Health-Pompano Beach 113 46% N/A
34 Cortiva Institute-Boston 112 100% N/A
35 Center for Natural Wellness School of Massage Therapy 112 100% N/A
36 Southern California Health Institute 112 42% N/A
37 McCann School of Business & Technology 109 10% $11,770
38 Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy-Newington 107 100% $14,050
39 Southeastern Institute-Charlotte 105 38% N/A
40 Blue Sky School of Professional Massage and Therapeutic Bodywork 102 100% N/A
41 Florida College of Natural Health-Miami 99 42% N/A
42 Northern Virginia School of Therapeutic Massage 98 100% N/A
43 Omaha School of Massage and Healthcare of Herzing University 95 90% $11,150
44 Southwest Institute of Healing Arts 94 20% N/A
45 Aveda Institute-Minneapolis 93 17% N/A
46 Finger Lakes School of Massage 92 100% N/A
47 Heritage College-Kansas City 91 22% N/A
48 Heritage College-Columbus 91 35% N/A
49 Everest College-Tacoma 89 12% $12,989
50 Heritage College-Little Rock 88 26% N/A
51 Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy-Westport 85 100% $14,050
52 Florida College of Natural Health-Bradenton 84 55% N/A
53 Cortiva Institute-Scottsdale 83 100% N/A
54 Baltimore School of Massage-York 83 100% N/A
55 Heritage College-Oklahoma City 82 21% N/A
56 Coastline Beauty College 82 36% N/A
57 Institute for Therapeutic Massage 78 85% N/A
58 Atlanta School of Massage 77 55% N/A
59 Beauty Schools of America-Hialeah 77 15% N/A
60 Finger Lakes School of Massage 77 100% N/A
61 Professional Massage Training Center 76 100% N/A
62 Florida Academy 76 67% N/A
63 Charter College-Canyon Country 73 7% $18,313
64 Advance Beauty College 71 16% N/A
65 Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy-Groton 70 100% N/A
66 Everest College-Vancouver 69 31% $15,612
67 Everest College-Ontario 68 11% N/A
68 Northwestern Health Sciences University 66 40% $12,590
69 Blue Cliff College-Metairie 66 15% $18,447
70 Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado 66 100% N/A
71 Everest College-Seattle 65 42% $16,172
72 Miller-Motte College-Wilmington 65 13% $12,285
73 Augusta School of Massage 65 100% N/A
74 WellSpring School of Allied Health-Kansas City 65 56% N/A
75 Georgia Career Institute 64 18% N/A
76 Everest Institute-Tigard 64 26% $17,926
77 South Texas Vocational Technical Institute-Brownsville 64 21% N/A
78 Sunstate Academy 63 35% N/A
79 Miller-Motte College-Cary 63 26% $12,459
80 Healing Arts Center 63 100% N/A
81 European Massage Therapy School-Las Vegas 63 100% N/A
82 Cortiva Institute-Seattle 63 100% N/A
83 Parker University 62 28% $15,850
84 Myotherapy College of Utah 62 100% N/A
85 Ann Arbor Institute of Massage Therapy 62 100% N/A
86 Healing Mountain Massage School 61 100% N/A
87 Heritage College-Wichita 61 16% N/A
88 Spa Tech Institute-Westbrook 60 34% N/A
89 Southeastern Institute-Charleston 60 33% N/A
90 American Career College-Ontario 60 7% N/A
91 Ponce Paramedical College Inc 59 6% N/A
92 Virginia School of Massage 58 78% N/A
93 New York Institute of Massage Inc 58 100% N/A
94 Medical Training College 58 26% N/A
95 European Massage Therapy School-Skokie 58 100% $8,500
96 Everest Institute-Grand Rapids 56 14% N/A
97 University of Western States 56 66% N/A
98 Sarasota School of Massage Therapy 56 100% N/A
99 Academy of Massage Therapy 55 100% N/A
100 American Career College-Anaheim 55 5% N/A

Important Qualities

For massage therapists to perform their jobs effectively they should equip themselves with several important skills. When massage therapists take certification programs they usually incorporate some important skills into their curriculum like:

  • Communication skills: As a massage therapist, you should always listen to your clients carefully; this will help you to understand what they would like to accomplish through massage sessions.  
  • Time management skills: Therapists need to tailor a session to the specific needs of a client. Massage therapists should know how to use their appointment time wisely so that they can help each client attain their goals.
  • Decision making skills: Massage therapists should evaluate the needs of each client and advice on the best healing on the foundation of the needs of that person.
  • Physical stamina: Because massage therapists spend most of their time on their feet; they need to be strong, comfortable and able to apply pressure when working on the muscles of a client or even when doing several hands and arms movements.
  • Empathy: Therapists should give their clients positive experience that needs one to build trust between them and their clients. This will make clients to feel comfortable and it will also expand the base of their clients. Doing all these and any other activities requires an empathetic and compassionate attitude.
  • Integrity: Massage therapists sometimes can record personal information or medical histories of clients and thus they need to be truthful, honest and protect the client’s privacy.            


massage-therapist-salaryAccording to research, the median annual salary of massage therapist in august 29 2016 was approximately $47,437 and the range is between $42,455 and $54,493, however, this usually depends on various factors such as the years of experience, location, field among other factors. The average wage that a massage therapist makes per hour is about $19.83 but most people prefer changing their career especially if they have more than 18 years of experience in this field. The skills associated with massage therapist that are highest paying include medical massage, myofascial release and pain management. According to the bureau of labor statistics in the US, the median annual salary for massage therapists in the year 2014 was $37,180. The highest ten percent got paid more than $71,900 and lowest ten percent got paid less than $18,400. The average wages of careers with related titles include the following:

Occupation Wage
Aide Physical Therapy $14,000
Massage Therapist ON Call $16,000
Massage Therapy Coordinator $19,000
Dual Licensed Therapist $20,000
Massage Therapist $22,000
Skin Therapist $30,000
Certified Massage Therapist $33,000
Massage Therapist Manager $38,000
Licensed Massage Therapist $39,000
Massage Therapist Pearland $39,000
Driver Manager Fleet Manager $46,000
Massage Therapy $47,000
General Massage Therapist $52,000
Massage Therapist Des Moine $67,000
Mobile Massage Therapist $98,000

Training Program

massage-therapy-trainingIf you want to become a massage therapist then you should finish a post-secondary education of at least 500 hours of study as well as experience, even though requirements and standards differ significantly by state or other jurisdictions. Most massage therapy programs require you to complete a study of at least 500 hours while others might require 1,000 hour or even more. If you want an admission to a massage therapy school then you need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. The programs usually include both class room study as well as hands-on practice of massage techniques. Subjects to be covered in the programs include anatomy; kinesiology – it is the study of body mechanics and motion; physiology – it is the study of tissues and organs; pathology – it is the study of disease; ethics and business management. Some programs might focus on particular specialties and modalities of massage and others might offer continuing education and job placement services. You can also decide to do either full-time or part-time programs.


massage-therapist-certificationMost states typically control massage therapy and also require massage therapists to have a certification or license. Massage therapy was regulated by 25 states and districts of Columbia in the year 2014. Not all states normally license and certify massage therapy but they might have laws at the local level. States that have regulations may require massage therapy workers to have a certification or license before practicing massage. Regulations of various states usually require you to pass exams and graduate from a certified massage therapy program. The exams might be from a particular state or you might also be required to pass Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination licensure exam, which is offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. Therapists might be required to have liability insurance, be trained in performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and pass a background check. Many states require therapists to renew their license from time to time and to complete continuing education credits. If you want to practice massage therapy then you need to take a look at the legal requirements for the locality and state in which you want to practice.

Job Outlook

massage-therapist-jobsThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the US stated found out that the expected job opportunity for massage therapists from the year 2014 to 2024 was 23%; this is faster than the average for all occupations. The increase in demand of massage therapists will bring about new openings to people in this occupation. As many states start to implement licensing standards and requirements for massage therapists, more people will begin accepting and respecting massage as a way o treating pain and improving overall health and wellbeing. Correspondingly, more healthcare providers now know the benefits of massage and this has led to increase of demand of massage as it has become part of the treatment plan. However, there are various things that will temper with demand of massage such as limited insurance coverage. There are also various benefits being offered by massage to specific groups of people whose constant demand of massage services will increase the overall growth of the career. For instance, massage therapists are being hired by many sports teams to help athletes recover from injuries and to manage or alleviate pain. There has been an increase in the number of clinic licenses in the recent years and many usually provide reasonably priced massages as compared to those offered at resorts and spas; this makes the massage services to be available to many clients. However, the state of economy limits the demand of massage services because during tough times in the economy, both the number of people looking for massage therapy as well as the frequency of massages could decline. In states that control or regulate massage therapy, there should be availability of opportunities for those who pass professionally documented exam and have successfully completed formal programs. However, if you are new to massage therapy then you must expect it to take time for you to build a customer base. An important source of the work of massage therapists is referrals; networking and marketing can help boost the number of job opportunities. Another thing that can help promote the chances of steady work and help build strong contacts is joining a professional association. Additionally, massage therapists can complete education programs in various modalities so that they can be able to attract a wider variety of clients.