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Massage therapy schools

Which types of jobs are available for those interested in massage therapy?

Massage Therapy

As Americans learn about the health benefits of massage, opportunities for massage therapists continue to grow. Many adults seek massage therapy to unwind from daily stress, while athletes use massage to rehabilitate injuries and ease overworked muscles. Increasingly, hospitals and nursing homes are incorporating massage into patient care. In order to serve a wide range of clients, massage therapists learn many techniques and study everything from Swedish massage to accupressure.

Because massage therapists interact with clients on a daily basis, people skills are essential; active listening, courtesy and patience are all traits of the profession. On a given day, a massage therapist might perform any of the following tasks:

  • Discuss clients' medical histories and goals for massage
  • Knead muscles and apply pressure to specific points of the body
  • Assess the condition of clients' soft tissues
  • Keep accurate records
  • Schedule appointments

There are over 80 types of massage, and therapists often specialize in several of these areas, called modalities. Mastering a variety of modalities allows massage therapists to meet the needs of a diverse client base, which might include both senior citizens and professional athletes.

Massage therapy careers can be extremely rewarding. Therapists enjoy fostering their clients' improved health, and many enjoy the active nature of the work. The flexibility of a career in massage therapy is another perk. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 57 percent of massage therapists in the U.S. are self-employed. These professionals often own their own massage businesses, and many others perform massage part-time as a way to increase income.

Like every profession, massage therapy jobs come with some challenges. When launching a career, many massage therapists are unable to work full-time as they establish their client base. Injury is also a risk because improper massage technique can lead to repetitive-motion injuries and fatigue. However, proper training through massage therapy training programs can help mitigate this risk.

Formal training required to work in a career related to massage therapy

Massage therapists must be licensed to work in most states. Specific licensing requirements vary, but most states require therapists to complete a formal massage therapy training program and pass an examination. Massage therapy programs do not lead to a degree, but they prepare students for licensing exams and can include coursework in the following subjects:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Body mechanics
  • Kinesiology
  • Business management

Most programs include at least 500 hours of training, and students learn through traditional class work and hands-on training. Part-time and full-time training programs are available; some can be completed in under a year.

The typical career path of someone interested in massage therapy

People who go into massage therapy are often empathetic, caring and communicative. Therapists must be able to work with a range of personality types and put clients at ease. Most massage therapy training programs require applicants to have a high school diploma, but a college degree is not required.

A career in massage therapy evolves as therapists gain experience and expand their client base. Although the massage work itself remains the same, massage therapists may eventually manage a studio, train others or start their own business. According to the BLS, massage therapists who work for themselves and have a large client base make the most money.

Job outlook and salary information for those interested in massage therapy

Massage therapists are expected to face strong job prospects as demand for massage increases. In fact, the BLS expects employment of massage therapists nationwide to grow by 19 percent from 2008 to 2018. This above-average growth should result in approximately 23,000 new massage therapy jobs.

While over half of massage therapists are self-employed, others find massage therapy jobs at spas, fitness centers, massage studios and hospitals. The number of spas continues to grow and massage clinic franchises have expanded to offer more affordable services. Also, as more states adopt licensing laws, massage therapy will become more widely accepted.

In 2009, the mean annual salary for a massage therapist in the United States was $39,780, according to the BLS. Wages varied by location and industry, with hospitals paying the highest salaries.

About the Author:

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  • Audiology
  • Massage Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy Assisting
  • Physical Therapy Assisting
  • Respiratory Therapy Assisting
  • Spa Therapy

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1 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • One of the largest massage therapy schools in the nation teaching since 1979.
  • First massage school in California to be nationally accredited.
  • Has a successful job placement record— 86% of graduates get placed into work in massage therapy.
  • Provides massage therapist education with multiple methods to ensure every student learns the material.
  • Offers lifetime career placement assistance and holds partnerships with a variety of employers.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
2 Program(s) Found
  • Offers training in various types of massage therapy, physical therapy/sports rehab, and personal fitness training & wellness.
  • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
  • Career service professionals work directly with students from the start of their program, and help them pursue employment in day spas, luxury hotels, cruise ships, and other locations.
  • Students can work in the SOCHI Massage Clinic to gain experience and build their career skills.
  • Financial aid representatives help students develop a personalized financial plan to finance their tuition.
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  • Financial Aid
2 Program(s) Found
Fremont College , Los Angeles
Fremont College traces its roots to Platt College’s founding in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1879, and the Southern California branch campus was established in 1986. The most significant evolution of the College started when its third CEO, Dr. Sabrina Kay, assumed leadership in 2007. Fremont College became an innovative center adopting the framework of Work-Based Learning Leadership at the Wharton School and Dr. Kay’s thesis on improved learning through practice and collaboration.
1 Program(s) Found
  • Gives students the option to choose from day, evening, and weekend classes to fit their schedule.
  • Offers public spa and salon services at all campuses for students to gain real-world experience.
  • Provides short specialty programs and workshops open to non-students as well.
  • Has 60 campuses across the United States.
  • Accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences (NACCAS).
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  • Accredited
  • Financial Aid
2 Program(s) Found
Start your career with training from Blake Austin College - Beauty Academy. We offer programs in cosmetology, massage therapy, and holistic health, plus a combination esthetics/massage program.
1 Program(s) Found
Charter College , Lancaster
  • Offers a program that translates work and military experience into college credit, transfers in credit from other college programs, and offers the flexibility of day, evening and online coursework.
  • Provides in-person tutoring, IT support, access to library resources, and job placement assistant for graduates.
  • Features a new blended-learning curriculum, which involves a mix of campus and online courses.
  • Has 11 campuses across Southern California, Washington, and Alaska, and online courses with campus support. 
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid