You have an inkling that you want to pursue a degree in massage therapy, but you aren't 100% sure yet. Maybe you know someone who works in the field and admire that person's lifestyle. Perhaps you are considering how to focus your future around a stable career. Potentially you want a job that provides more money, more flexibility and more independence.
But how do you know if enrolling in a massage therapy education program is the really right next step? We pound out the basics in this essential guide. That includes who makes a great therapist, how the future of the industry looks and what steps to take to enroll in a massage school.
Reasons to consider the next step of massage school
First, it helps to determine your long-term career goals. Make a list of the kind of lifestyle you'd like to have, how much money you want to make and what you picture your day-to-day job looking like. Consider whether any of the following scenarios describe your ideal future. Do you want to:
- "Grow up" your career and focus on a specific, stable professional path?
- Enter a field that offers job security, financial stability and continued growth?
- Make more money than you do now?
- Start ASAP in a career that doesn't require years of training or schooling?
- Have a job that's flexible in scheduling and work environment?
- Help people on a daily basis through your profession?
- Work in a field related to holistic medicine, health and fitness?
- Feel both challenged and rewarded every day?
If you responded "yes" to multiple questions above, massage therapy school could be a great next step for you. Pursuing massage offers all of the above opportunities and more.
The potential cons of massage therapy school
Massage therapy makes the perfect career choice for many people who have goals like the ones listed above. However, consider some potential drawbacks before diving in, and weigh the pros and cons. Performing massage requires considerable upper body and core strength, making it physically challenging. The physical demands may limit how many massages you can perform in a day — and consequently your income.
Although more men are entering the field, massage is dominated by women. Only 14 percent of practitioners are men, according to the American Massage Therapy Association. That shouldn't stop any one of any gender from pursuing a job in this exciting field!
Although it's an ancient practice, massage is still making headway into mainstream consciousness and traditional health care industries. Not only will you be tasked with marketing yourself, but also sometimes educating potential clients about the health benefits of massage therapy in general.
Another potential difficulty may be insurance reimbursement for your work. Some practitioners partner with insurance companies, while others avoid dealing with insurance at all. Insurance for massage is a complicated and evolving aspect of the industry.
Job prospects for massage school grads
Increasingly, the general public is beginning to understand the connection between the body and the mind and how that impacts health. Because of this, more people are opting to add holistic health treatments into their personal wellness programs. That includes herbal medicine, holistic practices like yoga and meditation, and therapies like acupuncture and massage.
Because of this growth in demand for holistic and natural health treatments, practitioners of therapies like massage, acupuncture, reiki, traditional Chinese medicine and more are in increasing demand. The massage therapy industry was expected to increase 22 percent between 2014 and 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's a higher rate than many other industries.
Mainstream medical professionals are also beginning to accept alternatives to traditional health care and offer wellness treatments like massage on hospital campuses. That also means that today's massage therapist might work in a hospital or another medical setting. However, spas, resorts and private practices are also popular options for employment among massage professionals, if that's your goal.
What makes a great massage therapist?
There are many facets of massage that make it an appealing career for certain types of individuals. For one, you must have a passion for helping others! Among the job's many rewards is helping your clients heal from injuries and manage the symptoms of their medical conditions. That's not to mention reducing their stress and improving their general wellbeing.
As mentioned, massage is also very physical. If you're a person who likes working at a desk for most of the day, you might want to look at other careers. The job does involve some paperwork, especially if you run your own practice. But most of the day, massage therapy requires you to engage your entire body and keeps you on your feet. You'll stay active and in shape while helping your clients maintain their own health — it's a win-win!
You should also thrive on the idea of a job that involves flexibility from day to day and week to week. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, opening a private practice is a path that many practitioners choose.
Massage + money: How much does training cost?
Maybe you don't have the money or the desire to pursue a degree at a traditional four-year college. Either way, massage therapy school offers a great alternative avenue to becoming a professional. Massage therapy school costs less than a typical four-year college and it takes less time to earn a degree.
You could pay less than $11,000 —about one-third of the yearly cost of pursuing a degree at a private university — and obtain in a degree in massage therapy in fewer than 12 months. As an additional incentive, you may also qualify for financial aid.
Contact the admissions and financial aid offices of programs you're considering to find out how to fit massage school into your budget.
The differences in programs
Programs in massage may differ in several possible ways from school to school. In addition to location, the amount of time it takes to obtain a degree may vary. You might also find that differing philosophies drive the training at different institutions.
Another aspect that might be unique is the type of focus or specialty, as well as range of techniques, taught at a school. Learn about the various popular massage techniques and decide which one might be the best fit for you. A great way to do that is scheduling a massage appointment for yourself! Some common techniques include:
Some massage degree programs might be part of a school that also teaches traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine and other holistic therapies. Decide which type of program fits your needs and try to visit the campus, sit in on classes and talk to faculty, students and graduates.
While some degree programs can take less than a year to complete or allow students attend part time, massage school can be challenging. Students take classes like physiology, pathology and anatomy, along with ethics, state law and business practices. Following completion of their studies, many students have to pass state exams for licensure in order to practice.
How to enroll in massage therapy training
- Narrow down your options for schools
- Request catalogs
- Schedule visits and tour the schools you're considering
- Talk to the faculty, students and graduates
- Start the application process
- Apply for financial aid
Many massage schools have rolling admissions, meaning they offer multiple times at which you can start a program throughout the year. Make sure any school you consider is accredited by the United States Department of Education.
Once you've settled on a school to attend, relish and enjoy your life's next chapter — massage is a fun, challenging and rewarding career!
Acupuncture and Massage College offers training programs in massage therapy with a specialization in Shiatsu. Request a catalogue and connect with our admissions department by calling (305) 595-9500.