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Become A Certified Massage Therapist

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Working As A Certified Massage Therapist

  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Getting Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Repetitive

  • Make Decisions

  • $80,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Certified Massage Therapist Do

Massage therapists treat clients by using touch to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. With their touch, therapists relieve pain, help heal injuries, improve circulation, relieve stress, increase relaxation, and aid in the general wellness of clients.

Duties

Massage therapists typically do the following:

  • Talk with clients about their symptoms, medical history, and desired results
  • Evaluate clients to locate painful or tense areas of the body
  • Manipulate muscles and other soft tissues of the body
  • Provide clients with guidance on stretching, strengthening, overall relaxation, and how to improve their posture
  • Document clients’ conditions and progress

Massage therapists use touch to treat clients’ injuries and to promote the clients’ general wellness. They use their hands, fingers, forearms, elbows, and sometimes feet to knead muscles and soft tissues of the body.

Massage therapists may use lotions and oils, and massage tables or chairs, when treating a client. A massage can be as short as 5–10 minutes or could last more than an hour.

Therapists talk with clients about what they hope to achieve through massage. Massage therapists may suggest personalized treatment plans for their clients, including information about additional relaxation techniques to practice between sessions. 

Massage therapists can specialize in many different types of massage or modalities. Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, and sports massage are just a few of the many modalities of massage therapy. Most massage therapists specialize in several modalities, which require different techniques.

The type of massage given typically depends on the client’s needs and physical condition. For example, therapists may use a special technique for elderly clients that they would not use for athletes. Some forms of massage are given solely to one type of client; for example, prenatal massage is given only to pregnant women.

Massage therapists who are self-employed may need to do business-related tasks such as marketing, booking appointments, and maintaining financial records. They may also have to buy supplies and do laundry.

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How To Become A Certified Massage Therapist

Massage therapists typically complete a postsecondary education program of 500 or more hours of study and experience, although standards and requirements vary greatly by state or other jurisdiction. Most states regulate massage therapy and require massage therapists to have a license or certification.

Education

Education requirements for massage therapists vary greatly by state or locality. Education programs are typically found in private or public postsecondary institutions. Most programs require at least 500 hours of study for their completion; some programs require 1,000 or more hours.

A high school diploma or equivalent is usually required for admission to a massage therapy program. programs generally include both classroom study and hands-on practice of massage techniques. Programs cover subjects such as anatomy; physiology, which is the study of organs and tissues; kinesiology, which is the study of motion and body mechanics; pathology, which is the study of disease; business management; and ethics.

Programs may concentrate on certain modalities, or specialties, of massage. Several programs also offer job placement services and continuing education. Both full-time and part-time programs are available.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In 2014, 45 states and the District of Columbia regulated massage therapy. Although not all states license massage therapy, they may have regulations at the local level.

In states with massage therapy regulations, workers must get a license or certification before practicing massage. State regulations typically require graduation from an approved massage therapy program and passing an exam.

The exam may be a state-specific exam or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) licensure exam, offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

Therapists also may need to pass a background check, have liability insurance, and be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Many states require massage therapists to complete continuing education credits and to renew their license periodically. Those wishing to practice massage therapy should look into legal requirements for the state and locality in which they intend to practice.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Massage therapists need to listen carefully to clients in order to understand what they want to achieve through massage sessions.

Decisionmaking skills. Massage therapists must evaluate each client’s needs and recommend the best treatment on the basis of that person’s needs.

Empathy. Massage therapists must give clients a positive experience, which requires building trust between therapist and client. Making clients feel comfortable is necessary for therapists to expand their client base.

Integrity. Massage therapists often have access to client information such as medical histories. Therefore, they must be trustworthy and protect the privacy of their clients.

Physical stamina. Massage therapists may give several treatments during a workday and have to stay on their feet throughout massage appointments.

Physical strength and dexterity. Massage therapists must be strong and able to exert pressure through a variety of movements of the arms and hands when manipulating a client’s muscles.

Time-management skills. Massage therapists must tailor an appointment to a client’s specific needs. Therapists must use their appointment time wisely to help each client accomplish his or her goals.

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Certified Massage Therapist Career Paths

Certified Massage Therapist
Massage Therapist Registered Nurse Team Leader
General Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Massage Therapist Therapist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Massage Therapist Therapist Supervisor
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Staff Nurse Team Leader
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Team Leader Office Manager
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Massage Therapy Instructor Owner
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Massage Therapy Instructor Owner Director Of Sales
Director Of Sales And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Massage Therapy Instructor Owner Owner/Manager
Regional Sales Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor Case Manager
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Licensed Practical Nurse Senior Technician Specialist Manager
Managing Partner
9 Yearsyrs
Licensed Practical Nurse Patient Care Coordinator Office Manager
Business Office Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Staff Nurse Senior Technician Specialist Vice President
Owner And Chief Executive Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Staff Nurse Consultant Human Resources Manager
Business Partner
8 Yearsyrs
Consultant General Manager Marketing Director
Community Relations Director
8 Yearsyrs
Consultant Supervisor Restaurant Manager
Catering Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Emergency Medical Technician Registered Nurse Supervisor Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Emergency Medical Technician Adjunct Instructor Founder
Owner And Founder
6 Yearsyrs
Emergency Medical Technician Registered Nurse Supervisor Clinical Director
Director Of Rehabilitation
7 Yearsyrs
Executive Assistant Office Manager House Manager
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Executive Assistant Manager Business Owner
Entrepreneur
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Certified Massage Therapist?

Certified Massage Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

73.7%

Male

17.5%

Unknown

8.8%
Ethnicity

White

64.3%

Hispanic or Latino

16.4%

Black or African American

9.5%

Asian

6.0%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Swedish

46.3%

Spanish

20.7%

Thai

13.2%

Japanese

3.3%

Chinese

2.5%

German

2.5%

Russian

2.5%

Vietnamese

1.7%

French

1.7%

Hawaiian

0.8%

Dakota

0.8%

Amharic

0.8%

Mandarin

0.8%

Fijian

0.8%

Tagalog

0.8%

Arabic

0.8%
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Certified Massage Therapist Education

Schools

National Holistic Institute

13.5%

University of Phoenix

10.3%

Baker College

6.5%

Virginia School of Massage

6.5%

Ashford University

5.8%

Bryan College

5.2%

Everest Institute

4.5%

San Francisco State University

4.5%

Aveda Institute

4.5%

Baltimore School of Massage

4.5%

Northern Virginia Community College

4.5%

Southern California Health Institute

3.9%

Minnesota School of Business

3.2%

West Virginia University

3.2%

Walden University

3.2%

De Anza College

3.2%

Boulder College of Massage Therapy

3.2%

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

3.2%

Tidewater Community College

3.2%

Centura College

3.2%
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Majors

Somatic Bodywork

27.5%

Nursing

11.5%

Business

9.3%

Physical Therapy

8.8%

Kinesiology

4.7%

Medical Assisting Services

4.6%

Psychology

3.9%

Health Care Administration

3.5%

Medical Technician

3.3%

Education

2.8%

German Language

2.7%

Occupational Therapy

2.6%

Alternative And Complementary Medicine And Medical Systems

2.4%

Clinical Psychology

2.4%

Liberal Arts

2.2%

Social Work

2.0%

Biology

1.5%

Physiology And Anatomy

1.4%

Health Education

1.4%

Communication

1.4%
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Degrees

Other

32.9%

Associate

19.1%

Bachelors

18.6%

Certificate

14.5%

Masters

8.8%

Diploma

3.4%

Doctorate

1.5%

License

1.1%
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Top Skills for A Certified Massage Therapist

  1. Massage Therapy
  2. Spa Services
  3. Reflexology
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Owned and operated a successful massage therapy/healing practice.
  • Managed spa by coordinating staff schedules, appointment setting, confirmations, coordinate multiple spa services for spa clients and staff.
  • Specialized in deep tissue and Swedish therapeutic massage while also conducting reflexology and trigger point therapy.
  • Provided extensive customer service in both massage therapy and personal training departments.
  • Completed strategic competitive analysis and developed promotional programs to optimize revenue levels with emphasis on retention.

How Would You Rate Working As a Certified Massage Therapist?

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