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Working As A Licensed Massage Practitioner

  • 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

  • $63,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Licensed Massage Practitioner 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 Licensed Massage Practitioner

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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Top Skills for A Licensed Massage Practitioner

  1. Massage Therapy
  2. Spa Services
  3. Hot Stone Massage
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provide clinical massage therapy to medically referred clients and provide reports to referring physicians.
  • Massage Therapist and Spa Services, Client Educator.
  • Provided Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Hydrotherapy Massage, scheduled appointments, light cleaning duties.
  • Provided superior customer service Suggested frequency of visits for each guest
  • Developed and implemented treatment plans based on assessments.

Licensed Massage Practitioner Demographics

Gender

Female

71.3%

Male

23.7%

Unknown

5.0%
Ethnicity

White

67.1%

Hispanic or Latino

14.0%

Black or African American

8.5%

Asian

6.1%

Unknown

4.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Swedish

53.6%

Spanish

14.5%

Thai

10.1%

French

7.2%

Chinese

4.3%

Russian

4.3%

Bulgarian

1.4%

Cantonese

1.4%

Japanese

1.4%

Greek

1.4%
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Licensed Massage Practitioner Education

Schools

Baltimore School of Massage

16.4%

Cortiva Institute - Seattle

9.0%

University of Washington

7.5%

Everest College - Bremerton

6.0%

Cortiva Institute - Brian Utting School of Massage

4.5%

Clover Park Technical College

4.5%

Arizona State University

4.5%

Seattle Midwifery School

4.5%

East-West College of the Healing Arts

4.5%

Everett Community College

4.5%

Western Washington University

4.5%

College of Massage Therapy

4.5%

Everest College - Seattle

4.5%

Central Washington University

3.0%

Eastern Michigan University

3.0%

Chippewa Valley Technical College

3.0%

Miami-Jacobs Career College - Akron

3.0%

Antioch University-Seattle

3.0%

The National Massage Therapy Institute - Falls Church

3.0%

Lakeside School of Massage Therapy

3.0%
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Majors

Somatic Bodywork

39.6%

Business

6.8%

Nursing

6.8%

Psychology

5.2%

Counseling Psychology

3.9%

Kinesiology

3.9%

Alternative And Complementary Medicine And Medical Systems

3.6%

Medical Assisting Services

3.2%

Physiology And Anatomy

2.9%

Medical Technician

2.6%

Physical Therapy

2.6%

Clinical Psychology

2.6%

Education

2.6%

Liberal Arts

2.6%

Nursing Assistants

2.3%

Social Work

2.3%

Health Care Administration

1.9%

Medicine

1.6%

Accounting

1.6%

Health Sciences And Services

1.3%
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Degrees

Certificate

26.3%

Associate

20.6%

Bachelors

17.2%

Masters

11.6%

Diploma

10.3%

License

6.9%

High School Diploma

4.7%

Doctorate

2.5%
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Updated May 18, 2020