There is currently a shortage of massage therapists which is due to many factors and one of them is that many massage schools are closing their doors like Cortiva which was a large corporation owned massage school who previously bought up many smaller “mom and pop” or owned by individual massage therapists.
Massage therapy schools are at a crossroads. Should we go back to the small “mom and pop” owned schools or work toward more schools with Associates and Bachelors degrees in massage therapy?
Since massage therapy basic competencies are still at a 625 hour recommended program, Associate and Bachelor degrees are still overkill unless you are a young person right out of high school and need/want the extended education and life learning that college provides.
List of things you need to consider when opening a massage school
- Financial – You will need a budget and a list of things you will need to start your massage school. You will need a location which is usually one very large room for the teaching classroom and a few smaller rooms for opening a small massage clinic for students to practice along with an office and access to the usual things like handicap bathrooms. You will need enough money to be able to survive for awhile as the school grows.
- Obtaining state approval – Each state has different requirements for opening a massage school. Some states only allow approved schools to operate and there is a specific application and approval process.
- Create Operations and Policies Manual for staff and students. Creating boundaries for your business is one of the basic things that will help you succeed with starting your massage school.
- Curriculum – Each state has different requirements for the approved curriculum. You will have to find out what it is. The basic recommended guidelines are in the Entry Level Analysis Projects (ELAP) www.elapmassage.org competency guide.
You will need lecture notes, lesson plans, student handouts, exams and quizzes.
- Hiring / training instructors – Instructors will make or break your program. The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education has created a Educator Certification Program that makes sure teachers are qualified to teach. Many schools up until now have just hired massage therapists who want to teach and may not be qualified teachers.
- Hire admissions person and other staff. In the beginning you may be the admissions person and all of the staff. You will need to create a clear application process and make sure people are informed about what they are getting into.
- Finding a school location – The location will need to be easy to get to and have adequate parking and facilities.
- Purchase School Equipment – Massage tables, chairs, books, bolsters, massage supplies, desks, office supplies, anatomy models, software, computers, etc
- Recruiting students – This is how you will succeed or fail. Your students need to be able to become successful which means you should have a student clinic where they can practice on real clients in an actual clinical or spa environment. Not everyone is cut out for massage school.
- Creating Marketing Materials for school. You will need a way to clearly promote massage therapy as a viable career. There are some things that are deterring people from going to massage school like the salary statistics and stories of sexual assault and happy endings. Massage therapy is healthcare no matter where it is practiced.
- Building the schedule. Offering morning, daytime and evening/weekend programs are essential for your success.
- Graduate support systems. Having a regular newsletter, continuing education classes, mentoring program and peer supervision programs will help your grads succeed. It will also create an extra source of income for your school.
Still thinking about opening a massage school?
All of the planning and work is done for you when you purchase the Massage Therapy School in a Box program from Shari Aldrich of the Body Mechanics Massage School in Olympia, WA.