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How to Open a Massage School
Massage therapy is a growing profession, one that has come under increasing regulation during the past decade. Most states now require massage therapists to receive training from a state-approved school, and there is a need for qualified massage therapy schools in many areas.
Licensing and insurance
Contact your state's business licensing department to find out what licenses you will need to open your school. If your state requires massage therapists to be licensed, you will have to work with the massage therapy licensing board to get approval for your school. If your state does not license massage therapists, your school will likely need to be licensed through the state department of education.
Contact your city's department of business affairs to find out what city licenses and permits your school will need.
Contact both the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) for information on industry trends and standards.
Space, equipment and staff
Contact a commercial real estate agent for help in finding a suitable building for your school.
Purchase required equipment for your school such as massage tables, massage tools and accessories (such as massage oils and towels) and office supplies.
Hire instructors. While you may not want to hire a lot of support staff until you are up and running, most state licensing boards are going to want you to have qualified instructors signed on before they will approve your school.
Develop your curriculum. You will need to meet state guidelines (if massage therapists are licensed in your state) as well as national guidelines as per the NCBTMB. You will also have some flexibility in your curriculum though, and should build it to capitalize on the strengths and expertise of your instructors.
Opening your school
Obtain all final permits and licenses. Remember, you will likely need multiple licenses and permits from various agencies, so make sure that you have obtained all permissions necessary prior to starting your school.
Set the school calendar, including dates when courses start, class times and holiday breaks. Confirm instructor availability.
Hire administrative staff if you need to.
Once you get approval to operate, begin advertising your program. Some good places to advertise are on bulletin boards in natural food shops and coffeehouses, in local papers, and in local "alternative" publications.
In some states you will not be able to advertise your school until you are fully approved by the state massage therapy licensing board. Don't attempt to "pre-enroll" students prior to being approved until you know that this is acceptable in your state.
You will need different licenses and permits from different agencies. For example, you will probably need a fire marshal permit, a health department permit, as well as a tax ID number and an approval from the massage therapy licensing board and/or the department of education. These agencies don't always communicate well between themselves, so be sure to document your interactions with them and be proactive in letting each agency know the status of your other approvals.
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.