A massage therapist may relieve pain, help rehabilitate injuries, increase a client's relaxation, reduce overall stress in the body and improve a client's overall wellness.
A massage therapist may work on clients of any age, including children, adults, elderly patients and athletes. A massage therapist evaluates a client based on the illness or injury a patient has then recommends a massage therapy program based on the client's unique needs.
A massage therapist may provide health therapy for many different types of problems. These may include:
- Chronic Lung Disease
- Digestive Complaints
- Sports Injuries
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
Massage is often used as an add-on to other forms of health therapy or conventional therapy. Sometimes massage is covered by health insurance, but not always. Massage may be used in addition to the work provided by a physical therapist. A massage therapist often works alongside other healthcare practitioners, including chiropractors, physical therapists, occupational therapist, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine or other healthcare providers. Many massage therapists also work in private practice.
Qualities of Massage TherapistsSuccessful massage therapists must demonstrate a wide range of characteristics and personality traits to succeed as health therapists. Characteristics that many massage therapists demonstrate include:
- Compassion. Most massage therapists are compassionate, having a strong desire to help others overcome unique physical circumstances.
- Observation. Massage therapists must have strong observational skills to allow them to evaluate the strengths or weaknesses in a client's muscles and tissues.
- Relationship Building. Massage therapists are well-known for their relationship building skills, often building strong and long-lasting relationships with the clients that make up their massage therapy practice.
- Empathy. Good massage therapists are often empathic, capable of relating to the ups and downs the clients a massage therapist sees go through.
- Organization. A good massage therapist has good organizational skills to keep track of a client's progress from week-to-week or on a monthly basis.
Massage therapists will also demonstrate many other characteristics including good problem solving skills that will help them excel in their career path as a health therapist.
Educational RequirementsMassage therapists must be certified and licensed in the state a therapist chooses to practice in. These requirements vary from state-to-state. Most educational programs require 500 or more hours of massage therapy study from a licensed or accredited massage therapy program. These programs typically require a high school diploma or GED. Most massage therapy programs cover subjects that include anatomy, physiology, business management, and hands on practice of massage therapy techniques.
Massage therapy schools also offer advance training to students in massage therapy techniques which may require additional training of up to an additional 250 hours of training. Many also require continuing education for licensed workers. Massage therapy workers may pass either the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB).
Salary and Career OutlookThe salary for a massage therapist varies depending on the area of specialty a massage therapist works in and whether a massage therapist works in a private practice or for a spa or medical provider. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average median salary for massage therapists is over $35,000 per year. Some massage therapists make over $70,000 each year. How much you make as a massage therapist depends largely on whether you work in private practice, or whether you work for a spa or private medical practice.
Generally massage therapist working for private medical practices make less than massage therapists working in spas or other resort facilities, as massage therapist working for spas and other health centers collect tips in addition to hourly wages. Massage therapy is expected to grow by 20 percent through 2020, which is faster than all occupations. The job outlook is particularly good in franchises, sports centers and spas or health clinics.