Similar Titles

Licensed/Certified/Clinical/Medical/Bodywork Massage Therapist

Job Description

Massage therapists treat clients by manipulating the muscles and soft tissue to produce relaxation, improved health, rehabilitate injuries, and reduce stress and other benefits.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Help people feel better! 
  • Autonomy: You can set your own hours. You get what you put in. 
  • Dynamic: Holistic healing is becoming more and more popular and so there are more techniques being researched to help people (i.e. massage therapy to treat addiction)
  • Mobility: You are not limited to one city. Massage therapists are everywhere!
The Inside Scoop
General Overview
  • 25 hours is full-time for massage therapist. 
  • Flexibility: Massage therapists essentially work for themselves so they set their own schedule and they can work for a hospital for a few hours a week, then a massage clinic for 10 hours, and then have private clients for the rest of the week.  
Skills Needed on the Job
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Networking and marketing skills
  • Biology: understanding of the body
  • Customer service
  • Communication and active listening skills
  • Physical strength
Types of Massage

Aromatherapy: Massage with addition of essential oils to address specific needs (stress-reduction, relaxation, energy…etc.)
Deep Tissue: Massage that targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissues.
Hot Stone: Heated smooth stones are placed on parts of the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body.
Prenatal: Massage used to reduce stress, decrease swelling, relieve aches and pains, and relieve anxiety and depression on pregnant women.
Reflexology: “foot massage” Applies pressure to certain points on the foot that correspond to organs and systems in the body.
Shiatsu: Form of Japanese massage that using localized finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians.
Sports: Massage for athletes and the focus is not on relaxation but on preventing and treating injury and enhancing athletic performance.
Swedish: Long smooth strokes, kneading and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil.
Thai: Like shiatsu, it aligns the energies of the body using gentle pressure on specific points. It also includes compression and stretches. 

Employment Types
  • Private offices
  • Spas
  • Hospitals
  • Fitness centers
  • Shopping malls
  • Individual (travel to client’s homes)
Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • Physically and mentally demanding
  • At the beginning of your career, you might need to supplement career with other jobs. 
  • At the beginning of you career, you might work for a massage franchise and here you will be doing back-to-back massages that can be physically draining. 
  • Private practice: You have to develop your brand, spend money on marketing and have business acumen.  
Current Industry Trends

Holistic field is growing and massage therapy is used in many different special populations like addicts, the elderly, pregnant women, and cancer/MS/IV patients. 

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…
  • “I was a hands-on learner (learn by doing), instead of books.” 
  • Sense of compassion, empathy at an early age. 
2016 Employment
2026 Projected Employment
Education and Training Needed
  • HS Diploma or GED mandatory. 
  • Accredited training program offered through community college, technical institute, or proprietary school, duration: 500 hours of training, varies per state. 
  • Pass board exam (certificate) and get licensed: either state exam, Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB).
  • Continuing education 24 hours every 2 years varies per state. 
Description of the Program
  • Classes: anatomy, physiology (study of organs and tissues), kinesiology (study of motion and body mechanics), business management, and ethics. 
  • Hands-on practice of massage techniques
  • Might have internship at hospital or nursing home. 
  • Try to find a program that will fit your “style”: Do you want to work with athletes? In a hospital? Or more in spa for relaxation? 
Education Stats
  • 17% with HS Diploma
  • 15% with Associate’s
  • 22.5% with Bachelor’s
  • 4.2% with Master’s
  • 3.9% with Doctoral

(*% of employees aged 25 to 44 in the occupation whose highest level of educational attainment is)

How to Land your 1st job
  • During training, you will be interning at different places (hospitals, nursing home). You might be able to get 1 of your jobs through that internship. It will most likely be part-time. You will probably have to work for several places at the beginning. 
  • Work for a franchise like Massage Envy: Here you will get a lot of experience and exposure so you should develop your style here. 
  • Apply for massage shops, physical therapists, spas and acupuncturists through online job websites. 
How to stay competitive and stay in the game
  • Brand yourself!: You are essentially self-employed. 1) Self-awareness: You need to know who you are as a massage therapist. What is your intention? What is the experience you are going to be giving? 2) Market and brand outward
  • Think of innovative ways to find clientele (if you are self-employed): bachelorette parties, partnership with local sports team/food/services (free massages for marketing?)
  • Speak different languages.
  • Specialize in more than 1 type of massage and continue to learn new techniques.
  • Network but in a genuine way. 
  • Treat your clients well so they will become your repeat clients. 

"As I ventured into private practice as a massage therapist I knew it was going to be important to stand out. I asked myself questions like who am I, who are the types of clients that I want to attract, what is going to be the " look and feel" of my practice; my "brand". I started from there and worked outward. This gave me a solid foundation to build from." Morgan Henry, Anchor Bodyworks


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Source: Interview, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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