Becoming a Massage Therapist – using you gift of touch

What is a Massage Therapists?

  • A massage therapist is someone who treats clients by using touch to manipulate the soft-tissue muscles of the body. With their touch, massage therapists relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, reduce stress, increase relaxation, and aid in the general wellness of their clients

    Massage therapists typically do the following:

    • Talk with clients about their symptoms, medical history, and desired results
    • Evaluate clients to locate painful or tense areas of the body
    • Manipulate muscles and other soft tissues of the body
    • Provide clients with guidance on stretching, strengthening, overall relaxation, and how to improve their posture
    • Document clients’ conditions and progress
    • Massage therapists use touch to treat clients’ injuries and to promote the clients’ general wellness. They use their hands, fingers, forearms, elbows, and sometimes feet to knead muscles and soft tissues of the body.
    • Massage therapists may use lotions and oils, and massage tables or chairs, when treating a client. A massage can be as short as 5–10 minutes or could last more than an hour.
    • Massage therapists talk with clients about what they hope to achieve through massage. They may suggest personalized treatment plans for their clients, including information about additional relaxation techniques to practice between sessions.
    • Massage therapists can specialize in many different types of massage or modalities. Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, and sports massage are just a few of the many modalities of massage therapy. Most massage therapists specialize in several modalities, which require different techniques.
    • The type of massage given typically depends on the client’s needs and physical condition. For example, massage therapists may use a special technique for elderly clients that they would not use for athletes. Some forms of massage are given solely to one type of client; for example, prenatal massage is given only to pregnant women

    .Massage therapists held about 159,800 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of massage therapists were as follows:

    Personal care services

    33%

    Self-employed workers

    33

    Offices of all other health practitioners

    12

    Offices of chiropractors

    8

    Accommodation

    6

    Some massage therapists travel to clients’ homes or offices to give a massage. Others work out of their own homes. Many massage therapists, especially those who are self-employed, provide their own table or chair, sheets, pillows, and body lotions or oils.

    A massage therapist’s working conditions depend heavily on the venue in which the massage is performed and on what the client wants. For example, when giving a massage to help clients relax, massage therapists generally work in dimly lit settings and use candles, incense, and calm, soothing music. In contrast, a massage meant to help rehabilitate a client with an injury may be conducted in a well-lit setting with several other people receiving treatment in the same room.

    Injuries and Illnesses

    Because giving a massage is physically demanding, massage therapists can injure themselves if they do not use the proper techniques. Repetitive-motion problems and fatigue from standing for extended periods are most common.

    Therapists can limit these risks by using good body mechanics, spacing sessions properly, exercising, and, in many cases, receiving a massage themselves regularly.

    Work Schedules

    Many massage therapists work part-time. Because therapists work by appointment in most cases, their schedules and the number of hours worked each week vary considerably. Moreover, because of the strength and endurance needed to give a massage, many therapists cannot perform massage services 8 hours per day, 5 days per week.

    In addition to giving massages, therapists, especially those who are self-employed, may spend time recording clients’ notes, marketing, booking clients, washing linens, and conducting other general business tasks.


    How to Become a Massage Therapist

    Massage therapists typically complete a post secondary education program of 500 or more hours of study and experience.

    Massage therapists typically complete a post secondary education program of 500 or more hours of study and experience, although standards and requirements vary greatly by state or other jurisdiction. Most states regulate massage therapy and require massage therapists to have a license or certification.

    Education

    Education requirements for massage therapists vary greatly by state or locality. Education programs are typically found in private or public post secondary institutions. Most programs require at least 500 hours of study for their completion; some programs require 1,000 or more hours.

    A high school diploma or equivalent is usually required for admission to a massage therapy program. Programs generally include both classroom study and hands-on practice of massage techniques.

    Programs cover subjects such as anatomy; physiology, which is the study of organs and tissues; kinesiology, which is the study of motion and body mechanics; pathology, which is the study of disease; business management; and ethics.

    Programs may concentrate on certain modalities, or specialties, of massage. Several programs also offer job placement services and continuing education. Both full-time and part-time programs are available.



    Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations


    In 2016, 45 states and the District of Columbia regulated massage therapy. Although not all states license massage therapy, they may have regulations at the local level.

    In states with massage therapy regulations, workers must get a license or certification before practicing massage therapy. State regulations typically require graduation from an approved massage therapy program and passing an exam.

    The exam may be a state-specific exam or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) license exam, offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

    Massage therapists also may need to pass a background check, have liability insurance, and be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Many states require massage therapists to complete continuing education credits and to renew their license periodically.

    Those wishing to practice massage therapy should look into legal requirements for the state and locality in which they intend to practice.

    Annual Wage


    Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

    The median annual wage for massage therapists was $41,420 in May 2018. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,340, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,280.

    In May 2018, the median annual wages for massage therapists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

    Offices of chiropractors

    $51,690

    Offices of all other health practitioners

    44,560

    Personal care services

    39,740

    Accommodation

    28,020

    Most massage therapists earn a combination of wages and tips and may receive free or discounted massages as a benefit.

    Many massage therapists work part-time. Because therapists work by appointment in most cases, their schedules and the number of hours worked each week vary considerably. In addition to giving massages, therapists, especially those who are self-employed, may spend time recording clients’ notes, marketing, booking clients, washing linens, and conducting other general business tasks.

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