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Become A Massage Therapist

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Working As A Massage Therapist

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Getting Information
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Stressful

  • Make Decisions

  • $68,360

    Average Salary

What Does A 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.


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 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 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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Massage Therapist jobs

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Massage Therapist Demographics


  • Female

  • Male

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Swedish

  • Spanish

  • Thai

  • Russian

  • Chinese

  • French

  • German

  • Portuguese

  • Japanese

  • Mandarin

  • Italian

  • Arabic

  • Polish

  • Korean

  • Cantonese

  • Hmong

  • Dutch

  • Hawaiian

  • Tagalog

  • Dakota

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Massage Therapist Education

Massage Therapist

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Real Massage Therapist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Massage Therapist Anti-Stress Sport Massage Green Bay, WI Apr 01, 2011 $83,480 -
Supervisory Massage Therapist Circle of Thought, LLC Hoboken, NJ Apr 01, 2012 $66,721
Supervisory Massage Therapist Circle of Thought, LLC Hoboken, NJ Apr 23, 2012 $66,721
Supervisory Massage Therapist DHR Hoboken, NJ Apr 01, 2012 $66,721
Pain Massage Therapist Body Remedy of South Florida Inc. Miami, FL Dec 01, 2011 $62,610 -
Massage Therapist New Hope Chiropractic PC Englewood Cliffs, NJ Nov 18, 2015 $56,493
Massage Therapists Rego Medical P.C. New York, NY Feb 04, 2014 $54,184
Massage Therapist Boulder Massage Boulder, CO Mar 15, 2011 $52,175
Massage Therapist Boulder Massage Boulder, CO Apr 01, 2011 $52,175
Physiologist and Massage Therapist Giant Bicycles Inc. Bend, OR Jan 01, 2010 $50,088
Soigneur-Massage Therapist and Physiologist Performance Driven LLC Bend, OR Jan 01, 2012 $49,566 -
Soigneur-Massage Therapist & Physiologist Performance Driven LLC Bend, OR Jan 01, 2012 $49,566
Massage Therapists Sister's Salon & Spa Nantucket, MA Jun 02, 2016 $48,690
Massage Therapist The Lotus Mind+Body Spa, Inc. Needham, MA Oct 01, 2016 $48,523
Massage Therapist The Lotus Mind+Body Spa, Inc. Needham, MA Nov 01, 2015 $48,523
Massage Therapist The Lotus Mind+Body Spa, Inc. Needham, MA Feb 08, 2016 $48,523
Massage Therapist Life Massage & Spa Nantucket, MA Apr 01, 2015 $47,771
Licensed Massage Therapist Active Care Center Chicago, IL Nov 07, 2007 $43,890
Massage Therapists Santhigram Kerala Ayurvedic Co of Us Inc. Edison, NJ Jan 21, 2014 $41,392
Massage Therapist Refle International, Inc. Urban Honolulu, HI Nov 25, 2016 $40,726
Massage Therapists Tresses Corporation MA May 15, 2014 $40,550
Massage Therapists East To West Acupuncture Center Lynnwood, WA Mar 05, 2008 $38,730
Licensed Massage Therapist Kim's Wellness Center, Inc. Eatontown, NJ Mar 20, 2012 $38,500
Massage Therapists Kim's Wellness Center, Inc. Eatontown, NJ Nov 06, 2013 $38,500
Massage Therapist Bethesda Massage, LLC Bethesda, MD Sep 01, 2010 $37,566 -
Massage Therapist Xpresspa S.F. International, LLC San Francisco, CA Dec 03, 2010 $35,131
Massage Therapist Tsubakiyama Acupuncture Clinic, Inc. Santa Monica, CA Apr 07, 2010 $32,536
Licensed Massage Therapist Rfklics Inc. Rowlett, TX May 01, 2015 $31,305

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Top Skills for A Massage Therapist


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Top Massage Therapist Skills

  1. Physical Therapy
  2. Massage Therapy Services
  3. Spa Treatments
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed medical therapies on clients as supervised by doctor of physical therapy
  • Provided therapeutic massage therapy services to a diverse patient population.
  • Provided professional and therapeutic massage sessions to all clients, incorporated spa treatments and customized bodywork treatment plans to upscale clientele.
  • Received numerous requests for deep tissue massage, deep muscle therapy release, hot stone massage and reflexology.
  • Performed doctor prescribed area specific therapeutic massage.

Top Massage Therapist Employers

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Massage Therapist Videos

Career Advice on becoming a Massage Therapist/ Practitioner by Colette L (Highlights)

Career Advice on becoming a Massage Therapist/ Practitioner by Colette L (Full Version)