Massage therapists are trained to provide therapeutic treatments to clients who need pain relief, stress reduction, injury rehabilitation, or other forms of body-focused healing. They manipulate the soft tissues of the human body through touch and other techniques in order to help relieve pain or tension, relax muscles, increase blood flow, rehabilitate injuries, and improve overall well-being.
Massage therapy is widely considered to be complementary health care. It’s increasingly used by people seeking other medical treatment for issues like chronic pain and anxiety. But it’s also commonly sought after by people who simply want to reduce stress or enhance their quality of life.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a massage therapist and what it takes to become one yourself.
Massage Therapist Job Duties
Massage therapists perform a variety of duties which may include the following:
- Interviewing clients to understand their needs and goals for treatment
- Providing a therapeutic massage to clients by applying specialized techniques according to the client’s requirements
- Making sure that all equipment is clean and sterile, that supplies are stocked, and that procedures are followed
- Preparing a massage room for clients, which includes setting up surfaces and linens
- Keeping detailed records on each client treatment, including details about the sessions, treatments provided, and any special instructions or concerns
- Communicating with clients regarding appointment scheduling or rescheduling, and offering advice to clients regarding their ailments or stressors
- Reviewing treatment plans with clients to ensure they are appropriate for their needs
- Explaining post-treatment care instructions to clients and educating them on how to prevent muscle soreness or injuries from recurring
Massage Therapist Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for massage therapists is $74,768. The highest earners make over $156,000 per year. Those earning higher wages tend to work in the health care industry.
Job opportunities for massage therapists are expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade. This is due to the growing number of middle-aged and aging baby boomers who will be looking to relieve their aches and pains through massage therapy.
Massage Therapist Job Requirements
Before you can become a massage therapist, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
Education: Massage therapists are required to earn a license to practice their profession. The amount of education needed to earn this license varies by state. Requirements may include earning an associate’s degree in massage therapy or a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field like kinesiology.
Training: Massage therapists complete an internship under the supervision of an experienced massage therapist. They may also be required to complete additional training courses or training hours to meet the requirements of their state’s licensing board.
Certifications: While not required by most employers, certifications are available for those seeking to increase their skills. Some of these certifications include: National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) certification and the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) certification.
Massage Therapist Skills
A career as a massage therapist requires the following skills:
Physical strength: You will need to be physically strong enough to give massages.
Knowledge of anatomy and physiology: A working knowledge of the human body is important for this job.
Patience: It takes time to give a good massage, so you must have patience with your clients.
Dexterity: The hands-on nature of this job requires individuals to have strong dexterity. It is important for massage therapists to know how to apply pressure and move their hands in different ways as they work out knots in their clients’ muscles.
Organizational skills: This is a detail-oriented profession that requires organization and precision. A massage therapist should be able to keep track of all the appointments he or she has scheduled and maintain detailed records on each client. He or she must also know how to follow health codes and regulations.
Interpersonal skills: Interpersonal skills are necessary for a massage therapist because he or she must interact with other professionals and with clients on a regular basis.
Massage Therapist Work Environment
Massage therapists work in a variety of environments, such as health spas, beauty salons, and hospitals or nursing homes. They usually need to be on their feet for most of the day. Massage therapists must keep physically fit to be able to work on clients for long periods.
Some massage therapists enjoy working in a spa and taking breaks during the day to relax and refresh at the facility. Others prefer to work independently in their own offices. Although independent therapists choose when and where they want to work, they also must pay their own expenses, such as rent, supplies, and advertising.
Massage therapists must pay attention to hygiene rules when providing services. They are exposed to bacteria throughout the day through bodily fluids, so they need to take extra care around germ-ridden areas. They should always dress professionally, as they may have frequent appointments with clients in office environments or at spas and clinics.
Massage Therapist Career Advancement
If you are a massage therapist, you might advance in several ways. You could specialize in other areas and become a licensed acupuncturist or a certified chiropractor. If you are a licensed massage therapist, you could advance to a position as a massage clinic manager. This is a position that gives you more of a leadership role and allows you to manage a team of massage therapists.
Massage Therapist Trends
Here are three trends influencing how massage therapists work. Massage therapists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
The Importance of Self-Care
As more people are becoming aware of the importance of self-care, this is also being reflected in how massage therapists are interacting with their clients.
Self-care has long been an important part of holistic medicine, but in recent years, it has become a growing trend in massages as well.
Massage therapists are now encouraging their clients to incorporate healthy practices into their daily lives, such as drinking enough water and taking time to exercise regularly.
Massage as a Business Tool
In recent years, massage has emerged as a business tool for corporate leaders and managers who are interested in developing an environment that is focused on health and wellness.
These companies have created policies to encourage employees to attend regular massages, which helps promote a culture of physical and mental well-being.
Reaching the Masses Through Online Marketing
Massage therapy is a field that has historically been difficult to get into because of the costs associated with starting and maintaining a physical location.
However, today’s professional massage therapists can reach potential clients more easily than ever before through online marketing.
For example, Facebook pages can be used to advertise services and build community, while Instagram and Pinterest accounts can be used to show off the results of these services in beautiful photos. This new marketing platform will likely lead to an increase in demand for massage therapy services in coming years as people who may not have considered receiving this service in the past see how effective it can be.
How to Become a Massage Therapist
1. Planning Your Career Path
If you’re interested in becoming a massage therapist, it’s important to note that this is not a field for everyone. Those who are shy or uncomfortable with physical contact may find the job unfulfilling.
The massage industry has several different areas of specialization; finding one that matches your interests and personality can help ensure job satisfaction. For example, if you like working with people and want to be involved in the healing process, consider pursuing a career as a clinical or sports massage therapist.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for massage therapists should emphasize the candidate’s interpersonal skills, ability to work autonomously, and experience with a variety of massages.
You can use your resume to demonstrate your knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and neuroscience. This will show that you understand how the body works and how different treatments work together to promote health and relieve pain.
Your work history should demonstrate your success in providing a relaxing environment as well as your ability to build rapport with clients. When describing your past jobs, be sure to highlight any awards you have received or any relevant certifications that you have earned.
3. Applying for Jobs
To find a job as a massage therapist, you’ll need to build your reputation. This is why being an active member of the community is so important. Next, look into taking some continuing education courses that are related to the field, which will allow you to showcase your skills in new ways and connect with any employers associated with the course. These classes are offered through many different places, including universities, physical therapy centers, hospitals, and online.
4. Ace the Interview
When you are being interviewed for a massage therapist position, it is important to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills to perform the job. Most interviewers will ask questions about your personality and interpersonal skills, as well as your ability to deal with tense situations.
Make sure you are prepared to discuss examples of your skillset that are specific to the massage profession, such as how you interact with clients who are undergoing treatment or who are receiving other types of care at the same time. Discuss any relevant academic coursework or other experiences that demonstrate an interest in healthcare.
To prepare for this type of interview, think about all your experiences interacting with people in different settings. As you consider each experience, try to identify what skills you were using and how well you dealt with the situation. Expressing confidence should be high on your list of priorities when it comes to interviewing for a massage therapist position.