Massage Therapist Salary & Career Outlook

Massage therapists are health care workers who manipulate the soft-tissue muscles of the body to promote health and well-being. People seek treatment from massage therapists to heal injuries, treat ailments, reduce stress, and relax after over exertion. With professional training, you can find satisfying work as a massage therapist, often setting your own hours and rates.

Massage Therapist Training

Massage therapists use over 80 different types of massage modalities, including reflexology, Swedish massage, and deep tissue massage, and they may use these different techniques on different clients depending on their age and condition. It takes at least 500 hours of study to become a professional massage therapist.

Training includes specific massage techniques, physiology, anatomy, kinesiology, business management, and ethics, and usually results in a diploma or a certificate. You can find massage therapist training online if your schedule needs to be flexible or you want to avoid a commute. In addition to this formal education, you'll need strong communication skills and the ability to make clients comfortable in order to attract repeat business.

Most states require some sort of professional training and licensure through examination before you can legally practice massage, and some also require continuing education throughout your career. Massage therapist training online is available to fulfill these requirements.

Massage Therapist Job Outlook

Most massage therapists work part-time hours actually doing massage, though you may put in over 40 hours total when it comes to paperwork, finding clients, commuting, and setting up your massage space.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov, 2010) reports that 57 percent of massage therapists are self-employed and most others work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Doctor and chiropractor offices
  • Sports and fitness centers
  • Hotels and resorts
  • Personal care service establishments

The BLS also predicts that job opportunities are predicted to grow at a much faster than average rate of 19 percent through 2018 as massage therapy becomes a more common form of treatment. Networking and joining a professional association of massage therapists may increase your client base and therefore your salary potential.

Industries with the highest levels of employment were personal care services, traveler accommodation, and amusement and recreation industries. States with the highest concentration of massage therapists were Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, and Colorado.

Massage Therapist Salary, 2009 Data

The BLS reports that massage therapists earned a mean annual salary of $39,780 in 2009, though earnings can vary widely depending on the number of hours worked. Industries that paid the highest salaries include specialty hospitals at $55,100, dentists' offices at $53,820, and junior colleges at $53,230.

Top paying states for massage therapists are Alaska at $85,050, Washington at $52,550, and Oregon at $51,800. Metropolitan areas with the highest salaries are Anchorage, Alaska at $86,530, Chico, California at $82,790, and Eugene-Springfield, Oregon at $67,020.

Opportunities for advancement (and higher earnings) include managing an office where you work as a massage therapist or teaching massage. If you own your own business, you may increase your rates over time, as you build your reputation with more experience and satisfied clients.

With some professional training, you can start a career in massage therapy. You can bring relief and health to your clients, work as little or as much as you want, and earn a great wage.