Thinking of becoming a massage therapist?

Now is the best time ever!

Currently there is a shortage of massage therapists across the US while the demand for massage therapists continues to grow. 

  • Athletes are using massage therapy to enhance their performance. You can become a sports massage therapist that specializes in working with athletes.
  • Doctors are referring to massage therapists for pain, injuries and various conditions such as headaches, fibroymalgia and more. Clinical or medical massage therapists specialize in working with these conditions and more.
  • Hospitals are hiring massage therapists for post surgery recovery, pain clinics, labor and delivery, oncology centers, and more. Hospital based massage therapists have special training in working in the hospital environment.
  • The Veterans Administration is hiring Massage therapists for work in the rehabilitation clinics.
  • Spas and wellness centers are thriving and provide the relaxation and rejuvenation to help with today’s stresses.

Jobs in Massage Therapy

Currently it is a massage therapists job market.  There are not enough massage therapists to fill the many job openings in most areas.   Spas, franchises like Massage Envy and Elements, medical clinics, hospitals, resorts, cruise ships, casinos and doctors (chiropractors, dentists, MD’s, Orthopedic Doctors, Physical therapists) may hire massage therapists to work in their businesses. This gives massage therapists a clear advantage and more negotiation power when it comes to getting the job.

One of the main problems in the job market is how massage therapists will get paid.  Jobs will be advertised as paying you a high amount per hour ($45.00 or more) and then when it comes down to the actual numbers, you will get paid way less.  It depends on if your schedule is filled with clients or not.  When you are not working with a client/patient in direct hands on time, you will get paid only minimum wage.

The other big problem is that many employers will also try to take advantage of massage therapists and will hire them as a independent contractor instead of a true employee.  They will be treated as employees and will be told when to arrive and leave and how to do their work, but won’t get the additional benefits of being an employee.  The IRS and state L&I/workers compensation divisions are cracking down on misclassified employees.  The IRS loses money and states lose out on money when people are misclassified as independent contractors. Read more about massage therapy jobs.

Start Your Own Business

Most massage therapists go on to start their own business which is really the more lucrative way to go.  Starting and running your own business requires that you have the motivation and skills to get enough clients in the door and keep them coming in.  A massage business depends on repeat clients.

Starting and running your own business requires that you know how to run a business.  You don’t need a degree in business but you have to know how it works and what you need to do to get clients in the door and make a profit.  You can learn as you go and there are now many resources to help you along the way. Read more about starting your own massage business.

How much can you make as a massage therapist?

You can make as much or as little as you want. Since there is a huge shortage of massage therapists, what you can make per hour/month will vary greatly depending on your negotiation skills. You will need to show employers how you will make them more money. Some of the other things to show them is to be on time, give the best massage every time, don’t be a complainer and be a team player.

Currently entry level jobs as a massage therapist pay about $15 an hour.  That pay only applies when you have an actual client.  Most massage therapists can only give about 20-25 massages a week – tops so that will limit the amount that you will be able to make.  Top paying jobs for more experienced therapists can range from $35 – $55 or more an hour, depending on the situation.

Most massage therapists will go on to start and run their own massage business at sometime.  You will have the added overhead, but if done right you can usually make more that way.  You can set your own hours and have more freedom. Read more about massage salary information.

Massage Licensing

Most states require that people become licensed by each state to practice massage therapy in that state (with a few exceptions of states that do not license massage therapists – Wyoming, Kansas and Minnesota (in progress))
Each state has different requirements for getting a massage therapy license.  You can not just move from one state to another and think that your schooling and any previous licensing will be transferred to that state.  Each state requires a different number of hours of education in specific subjects.  Some require that you go to a massage school that the state has approved themselves.

There is no such thing as a National License that allows you to move freely from state to state.

You have to contact the state where you want to be licensed in to find out what requirements you will need to practice in that state.

Choosing a Massage School

Researching and comparing massage therapy schools will help you to make sure you choose a school that will best prepare you for a career in massage therapy. There are many things to think about and investigate when looking into massage schools. You will need to figure out what you can afford, how to fit it into your schedule, how to find time to study, and figure out what massage school can help you to succeed in the profession.

There are many variables that go into creating a massage school. The curriculum needs to be up to date and provide you with the tools to learn. There are new virtual programs for learning anatomy and physiology and massage therapy.

Read more about how to choose the best massage school for you.

How to Pay for Massage Therapy School

Massage therapy school will cost you anywhere between $6000 – $30,000 depending on your area, state requirements and what type of program you choose. Each state requires a specific number of hours of education so many schools will provide that basic number and will also provider a higher number of hours. If you are a fast learner, motivated and have experience in business, you may want to choose the school with the fewest number of hours. Your education can be continued when you are working to find a job or start your own massage business.

If you are right out of high school or in your early 20’s, you may want to consider a longer program. There are only a few programs that offer an associates degree in massage therapy or a Bachelors degree. I highly recommend them to get your life experience too.

Since the cost of massage school is really low compared to other careers and the time it takes for school is about 1 year or so, you should be able to pay for massage school by saving up for awhile, taking out a loan and looking for a massage therapy scholarship could help. Many state and city workforce education centers may also pay for massage therapy if you qualify.