How to Become a Masseuse
Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Discover a Career in Massage Therapy
If you have an interest in alternative health care or bodywork, consider a career in massage therapy. As a massage therapist, you can help your clients feel better while managing their pain and stress. You’ll also be able to enjoy a flexible schedule, allowing you to earn a living while also spending time with your family.
Massage therapists use a variety of bodywork techniques to care for their clients. These hands-on methods include stroking, kneading or tapping soft muscle tissue to relieve pain and relax tightened muscles. As a massage therapist, you’ll also be responsible for talking with your clients about their concerns and medical histories. Specific massage techniques may be contraindicated in some clients, and you will also need to determine which methods are most appropriate given the client’s issues.
Most states regulate massage therapists, requiring professional licensure, certification from a recognized professional association or registration with a government agency. In addition, towns and cities may also have their own set of requirements for those who wish to practice massage within municipal boundaries.
You can receive training to become a massage therapist through vocational schools, community colleges and proprietary massage therapy schools. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapy programs typically require a minimum of 500 hours of classroom instruction and clinical practice, though some states require 1,000 hours or more.
After completing an educational program, you may need to sit for a state licensing exam, professional certification exam or both. Both state regulatory agencies and certification programs often require you to complete continuing education credits as a condition of renewing your license or certification.
As of May 2016, the BLS reported that the average median wage for massage therapists was $39,860. This means that 50 percent of all massage therapists make more than $39,860, and the other half make less. However, it’s important to note that the amount of money you can make in this field depends on several factors, including where you work. BLS records show that the median annual wage for massage therapists who worked in chiropractor’s offices in 2016 was $50,740 in 2016, while those who worked at hotels and resorts only earned a median of $27,940.
Massage therapists work in a variety of settings, including salons, spas, health clubs and medical offices. Some therapists have their own offices or work out of their homes. Others offer mobile massage services, bringing a portable table or massage chair to a client’s home or workplace.
As a massage therapist, you’ll have some freedom in setting your own schedule, particularly if you are self-employed. You may work some evenings and weekends, and if you treat clients in their homes or offices, you can expect to spend time traveling from appointment to appointment.
Years of Experience
According to PayScale.com, you can expect to earn more as you gain experience as a massage therapist. A survey showed the following correlation between earnings and years on the job:
- 0‒5 years: $38,000
- 5‒10 years: $42,000
- 10‒20 years: $48,000
- 20+ years: $54,000
It can take a little while for many massage therapists to build a clientele. This is particularly true for those who are self-employed, but it’s also a factor for those who work in other businesses. Learning to market yourself can have a significant impact on your earnings.
Job Growth Trend
The BLS estimates that positions for massage therapists will grow 26 percent between 2016 and 2026. This fast job growth is based, in part, on an increasing acceptance of massage therapy among medical professionals. In addition, many people are seeking drug-free treatments for pain and discomfort: Massage therapy is a safe, effective and affordable option.
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Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.