How To Become A Massage Therapist

Massage therapists deliver massages to their clients. There are many reasons why people choose to receive massages, ranging from the luxurious pampering experience, to destressing, to relieving chronic pain. There are many types of massages that can be performed. In order to become a massage therapist, a person must attend a massage school and receive their license.

Why Become A Massage Therapist

A massage therapist has a variety of duties. They bring their clients into a room and help them get properly dressed into a robe and under a series of towels, and situated onto a massage table. They talk to their clients about what issues they are having, medical history, and what results they would like to achieve during the massage.

During the massage, they manipulate the tissues of the body using a variety of stroke work, deep pressure, stretching and more. They often utilize tools such as hot stone, roller balls, essential oils, creams, and other items to achieve the desired effect.

There are many different types of massages available. Swedish massage and deep tissue massage are some of the most common. Massage therapists may choose to specialize in some more exotic types of massages, such as golf ball massage, hot stone, hot poultice, Thai massage, and more. After the massage, massage therapists give tips on how their clients can continue to see their desired results, what kinds of at-home maintenance they should be doing, and when they should book their next appointment.

This is a great job for people who enjoy helping others, who want to educate others on living a healthy lifestyle, and want to help others relax and feel their best.

Massage Therapists should possess the following qualities and skills:

Massage Therapist Work Environment

Massage therapists work in a variety of places. Many work in spas, salons, hotels, massage parlors, and similar places. Others are freelance massage therapists, who travel to the homes of their clients to perform work. Massage therapists work on massage tables. Their environment is typically very relaxing, due to the tranquil nature of receiving a massage.

This work involves working directly with clients and performing hands-on work on people. Massage therapists often stand on their feet for long periods of time. This work often involves using the hands, arms, elbows and other parts of the body. Massage therapists utilize essential oils, hot stones, creams and other tools into their work.

Massage Therapist Salary

The median annual salary for massage therapists was $40,000 in 2017. Many massage therapists earn an hourly wage rather than a salary. This equates to approximately $19 per hour.
Many massage therapists earn tips and gratuities as an additional part of their pay, and they rely on these gratuities for extra income.

Also, some massage therapists work based on commission. This is common for those who work in a spa, salon, hotel, or other establishment. They may get paid based on the number of clients they see and value of services performed.

Average Massage Therapist Annual Salary


The average annual salary for massage therapists is $44,950 a year. Salaries start at $20,300 a year and go up to $77,470 a year.

Average Massage Therapist Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a massage therapist is $21.61. Hourly wages are between $9.76 and $37.25 an hour.

Stats were based out of 103,300 employed massage therapists in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Massage Therapists

Top Paying Cities For Massage Therapists

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Massage Therapist Career Outlook

Employment for massage therapists is expected to increase by 26 percent from 2016 to 2026 which is a huge increase compared to other professions. This equates to 42000 jobs in the next 10 years.
Many more people are noticing the benefits of massage therapy. Some people receive massages for its pampering and luxurious effects. Others go for the health benefits, in order to release pain and tension in their body.

Many professionals are recommending massage as a type of therapy. Chiropractors may recommend that their clients receive massages. Professional athletes and dancers are often recommended to receive massages to keep their bodies in peak condition. These are a few of the reasons why massage therapists will continue to be sought after.

Massage Therapist Degree

In order to become a massage therapist, a person must enroll into a credentialed massage therapy school. There are thousands of massage therapy schools across the United States. The only requirement for admission is to have a high school diploma.

In massage therapy school, students have lectures, where they learn about the muscles of the body; anatomy and physiology; studying organs and tissues; kinesiology classes; and ethical issues related to being a massage therapist. Some programs may even have classes related to running a massage business. Classes focus on the many modalities of massage.

Of course, much of the program involves hands-on work. Students will practice giving massages, practicing different types of modalities, from Swedish to deep tissue to other kinds of massage. Most programs require students have 500 hours of study for graduation.

Once completed, must take an exam and receive their license in order to practice massage therapy. Forty-five of 50 states require massage therapists to be licensed. Once licensed, massage therapists must take continuing education classes in order to keep their license.

Massage Therapist Coursework

In this section you will find just a sample of some of the classes massage therapists are expected to take during their massage therapy program.

Ethics in a Therapeutic Setting: Massage therapists will learn about the ethics involved in their practice. Massage may be considered an intimate form of care, as therapists work directly, hands-on with their clients. Massage therapists must learn the ethics of appropriate care in their field, including how to help others and how to not harm them.

Organ Systems: Students learn all of the organ systems of the body, and how these work together to create the massage experience. From the skin, muscular system, respiratory system, and more, students learn how the organs function together within our bodies.

Swedish Massage: In this course, students will learn about swedish massage, one of the most popular massage modalities. Students will learn the theory and techniques of this popular massage. They will also delve into hands-on training.

Massage Therapist Career Path

Many massage therapists start out working for other people, in spas, salons, hotels, and other establishments. As time moves on, you will probably build up a clientele and have enough money to start your own massage therapy business. About half of all massage therapists are self-employed.

Career Overview Responsibilities Education Required Benefits
Freelance Massage Therapist Massage therapist runs their own business and is responsible for building and maintaining their own clientele. Their responsibilities include traveling to the homes of clients, setting up their massage table, performing massages, setting up future appointments, taking payments, keeping track of funds, building a client base for themselves and maintaining that client base. Graduation from a massage therapy school is required along with licensure. Many people enjoy the freedom of running their own business. They get to set the times they want to work and also get to set their own rates.

Related Massage Therapist Careers

Massage therapists are just one of many careers related to helping others. If you are interested in this career, there are many others you may want to consider. Below we have listed some related careers.

Physical Therapist: Physical therapists help injured people. They help improve their movement and manage their pain. They create rehabilitation programs so that clients can relieve themselves of chronic pain, illnesses and injuries.

Esthetician: Estheticians cleanse a person’s skin and face, in order to enhance the overall beauty of the skin as well as the health of the skin.

Athletic Trainer: Athletic trainers treat muscle and bone injuries in athletes. They also know how to prevent and diagnose such injuries.

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