Health Career Center

Massage Therapists

Massage therapy is one of the most popular types of alternative and complimentary health treatment. In one form or another, massage therapy has been practiced for thousands of years. In fact, there are records of massage therapy being practiced that date back to the ancient China.

Massage therapists employ a variety of massage techniques in order to:
  • improve circulation in tendons
  • improve blood cirulation in ligaments
  • loosen muscles and improve circulation
  • reduce stress
  • remove muscle knots
While many massage therapists work as employees of spas and medical clinics, they typically manage their own practices. It is not uncommon for massage therapists to work in collaboration with other alternative health professionals including chiropractors, acupuncturist, physical therapists, medical doctors and rehabilitation specialists.

Massage therapists treat people of all ages in private clinics, assisted living facilities, hospitals, wellness centers, hospices, rehabilitation clinics, etc.

Most massage therapists working in the United States are trained in deep tissue and Swedish massage. Many specialize in the following techniques:
  • Acupressure
  • Connective tissue massage
  • Infant massage
  • Lomi-Lomi (Hawaiian massage)
  • Manual lymphatic drainage
  • Pregnancy massage
  • Rolfing
  • Shiatsu
  • Sports massage
  • Thai massage
  • Trager Method
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Tui Na (Chinese medical massage)
Massage therapists can be found in numerous work settings, including cruise ships, airports, hotels, spas, gyms, wellness centers, convalescent centers, office buildings, and malls. They also frequently treat patients in personal residences.

Massage therapists usually establish private practices. Many treat patients part-time for additional income or because massage therapy is physically exhausting. On average, full-time massage therapists spend 15 hours weekly administering massage therapy. The remainder of their time is spend performing administrative duties, which could include maintaining records, scheduling appointments, marketing, and performing basic accounting.

Massage therapy hourly rates are great influenced by work environment, location, and level of experience. Massage therapists working at exclusive spas can earn up to $100 an hour while massage therapist running a private practice typically make from $50 to $80/hour. Massage therapists working in large cities typically earn the highest wages. Nationwide, the average hourly rate is about $60 an hour.

Career Training and Education
To begin a career in this field, you'll be required to graduate from an accredited massage therapy training program and complete supervised training. Most programs require students to complete 500 hours of classroom instruction and supervised training. The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) currently recognizes over 80 schools.

Many states require therapists to earn bachelor's degrees before practicing professionally. Students enrolled in massage therapy training programs will complete courses in pathology, kinesiology, physiology, and anatomy, in addition to massage therapy technique.

Each state has separate licensure requirements for massage therapists. Although not necessary, it's recommend to become nationally certified to enhance employment opportunities and qualify for insurance reimbursement.

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) only certifies massage therapists who’ve completed recognized training programs and passed its certification examination.
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