Read what it takes to become a massage therapist, how long does it take to become a certified massage therapist?

Being a massage therapist has become one of the most lucrative jobs, as their importance can not be overemphasized. Massage therapy has helped many people cope with a lot of things. For example; physical ailments, emotional distress, and sore muscles. If you have a passion for giving a great massage, becoming a massage therapist is the best career path.

A massage therapist helps to play a crucial role in the health sector. They help improve people’s health by using touch and pressure to manipulate soft tissues in the human body. This would help improve relaxation, relieve pain, reduce stress, and promote the wellness of their customers.

Becoming a particular massage therapist differ from another, since their techniques are different. Are you looking forward to pursuing a career in becoming a professional massage therapist but do not know how to become one? Then take your time to go through these articles as it provides you with vital information on how to become a massage therapist.

After undergoing stress or pains, we desire to relax and recover from the discomfort we might be feeling. The most popular way of relieving oneself of this stress is by undergoing a massage therapy session. Professionals carry out massage therapy, and they are known as massage therapists.

It is the work of massage therapists to make sure their clients are well relaxed and treated. Massage therapists also help manage pain and discomfort while using an alternative healthcare massage method. Over the past couple of years, being a massage therapist has proved to be a gratifying career considering the benefits that come with it.

According to research by the bureau of labour statistics (BLS), a career in massage therapy is predicted to rise by a whopping 21% in the next 10 years. Currently, the U.S boasts of about 166,700 massage therapists. This is just the beginning as it is expected to increase by over 34,400 jobs over the next decade.

If you are considering pursuing a career in massage therapy, this article is for you as it reviews the vital statistic you need to know about the job. Going through this article would help you to decide on whether to pursue a career in this field or not.

Key stats:

  • A career in massage therapy is predicted to rise by a whopping 21% in the next 10 years.
  • Currently, the U.S boasts of about 166,700 massage therapists.
  • Massage therapy are expected to increase by over 34,400 jobs over the next decade.
massage therapists are on the rise
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Outlook of a massage therapist job

As predicted by the BLS, the growth of the job as a massage therapist will increase by over 20% in the next 10 years. With this number, the job growth outlook as a massage therapist is much faster when compared to the national average for all occupations. This means that massage therapists would enjoy job security for the next 10 years. Also, they would have several career opportunities available to them.

Over the past decade, the number of massage therapists has also improved by 14%. Females dominate the profession as they occupy about 86%. Nowadays, becoming a massage therapist could push you to have a bachelor’s degree or higher. As about 46% of massage therapists are degree holders.

More than 75% of massage therapists often identify themselves as sole practitioners.  On average, massage therapists work in about 2 different settings. These settings include; offices and homes. About 52% of massage therapist operates from offices, while about 36% provide their services from their homes.

Key stats:

  • Females dominate the profession as they occupy about 86%.
  • About 46% of massage therapists are degree holders.
  • More than 75% of massage therapists often identify themselves as sole practitioners
  • About 52% of massage therapist operates from offices, while about 36% provide their services from their homes.
massage therapy

How much does a massage therapist earn?

Using the United States as an example, the national average salary a massage therapist earns is about $28 per hour while working for about 30-35 hours per week. This figure might change as time goes on as salary averages are frequently updated.

In addition, while considering the national average salary for a position as a massage therapist, it is also essential to look out for other compensation factors. These benefits or compensation might include; overtime pay benefits packages and bonuses. The cost of living should also be considered, as it will help you decide whether becoming a massage therapist is the right career path for you.

The average salary for each state also varies from one another. For example, Alaska has an average salary of $91,644.80 per annum compared to Mississippi, with $41,275 per year. New York pays her massage therapist an average salary of $83,553.60 per annum. If you want to work in Washington as a massage therapist, then you should know you would earn about $67,641.60 in a year. Other states and their average salaries includes: Virginia ($48,445 per annum), Utah ($58,198.40 per year), Oklahoma ($58,697.60 per year), New Jersey ($48,738 per year) etc.

As explained above, the amount you make from being a massage therapist varies from state to city. It also depends on where and how much you work, any certifications or specializations you have and how good you are at marketing and garnering your clientele. The level of your experience in the job also affects the amount you can earn as a massage therapist. For example, a recent graduate tends to earn on the lower end of the spectrum as it would take time to build a reputation.

how much does a massage therapist earn today

Reasons why consumers get a massage

According to research, more than half of all massage consumers get their massage based on health and wellness issues. Over 25% of consumers received a massage, with pampering being the primary reason in the previous year. About half of consumers got a massage last year based on relaxation or stress reduction.

Studies also show that men are likely to discuss massage therapy matters with their doctors or healthcare provider compared to women. This year, over 50% of consumers who received massage partake in it for health and wellness reasons. Also, stating that undergoing massage therapy is part of a treatment plan from a medical provider or doctor.

Tips on how to increase your salary as a massage therapist.

  • Improve your business and marketing skills.
  • Building a loyal client base.
  • Continue your training and education to help diversify your skills.
  • Choosing the right geographic location.
how to increase your salary as a massage therapist

Improve your business and marketing skills: expanding your knowledge and skill level in marketing and business can help you find more clients to add to your list of clients. When you do this, it will help increase your salary as a massage therapist.

Building a loyal client base: when you can build a loyal client base as a massage therapist, it helps create a foundation that would help you advance your career.  A massage therapist should make an effort to build a good rapport with their clients even though they work in salons and spas before potentially opening your massage therapy practice.

Continue your training and education to help diversity your skills: taking this step would increase your career value. Specializing in specific aspects and techniques of massage therapy enables you to improve your salary by expanding the type of services you offer. Also, you can enhance your knowledge by seeking additional training in services related to massage therapy. Doing that would also help improve your salary.

Choosing the right geographic location: as a massage therapist, it is essential to select a site that would help balance your earning potential and your cost of living. This is because the salary of one geographical location varies from another one.

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How to become a massage therapist

Below are the steps you have to take to become a massage therapist;

  1. Earn a diploma or certificate in massage therapist

    This depends on your state licensing board; hence, you should choose a well-recognised program. The programs offered lasts for a range of 500-1000 hours of clinical and academic work. Some of the course you would learn during this period includes; physiology and anatomy of the human body. You would also learn pathology, kinesiology fundamentals and professional ethics.

  1. Take an approved or recognised national examination in massage therapy

    There are different national examinations accepted for the state, licensure. These includes; the board certification exam in therapeutic massage and bodywork (BCETMB). Also the massage and bodywork licensing examination (MBLEx). The BCETMB is offered through the national certification board for therapeutic massage and bodywork (NCBTMB).

  2. Apply for state licensure 
    After completing an accredited massage therapy program which includes several steps. The steps includes; completing a range of 500-1000 hours of training in clinical and academic work. Also having a passing score on an approved national examination. After these, graduates can now apply for a state license to practice massage therapy.

Working as a massage therapist

Below are some of the duties and tasks of a massage therapist:

  • Massage therapist provides their clients with advice on how to manage better or improve soft tissue conditions.
  • They access soft tissue dysfunction.
  • Message therapist specialises in providing massage therapy to rehabilitate the body. Also maintain or support physical function or enhance well being.
  • They also help to manipulate muscles and other soft tissues of the human body.

In becoming a massage therapist, you must develop skills in the following Eastern and western massage modalities;

  • Hot stone massage.
  • Prenatal massage.
  • Deep tissue massage.
  • Swedish massage.
  • Sports massage.
  • Lymphatic massage.
  • Aromatherapy and Spa life.
  • Shiatsu massage.
  • Acupressure massage.
  • Thai massage.
  • Traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Rocking and shaking massage.
  • Energy work massage.
  • Hand and foot reflexology.
  • Craniosacral massage
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How long does it take to become a massage therapist?

To become a massage therapist, you would have to complete as little as 5 months of massage therapy school training. While attending full-time. Your chances of timely success through that program are extremely high. Especially when you choose a good program with qualified and enthusiastic instruction.

What to do to get a massage license?

To get a massage license, you would have to complete a diploma program in massage therapy. Which lasts for about 500 hours of academic and clinical work? You would also take an approved national examination in massage therapy.

What kind of job can you get as a massage therapist?

Becoming a massage therapist is not gender-specific, a male or female can become a massage therapist. The massage therapist’s environment varies as their services might be needed in different places. Like health or chiropractic clinics, vacation resorts, spas, and fitness centres.

Often most massage therapists are self-employed. They also spend much of their work time standing and performing the same tasks, which could have a long term effect on their wrists and hands. A professional massage therapist earns $42,820 per annum. This job is also estimated to have a job outlook of 21% between 2019 and 2029.

Short description of the types of massage therapies

Reflexology hand and foot

Reflexology has been a long time healing practice that would require applying force or pressure to certain points in the body. These points include; areas on the ears, hands and feet. These reflex points and specific areas are somehow connected to various body organs and body systems. It can have a significant and beneficial effect on the body’s overall health. Especially if the right amount of pressure is directed towards the affected points and areas of the body

Foot and hand reflexology is not widely used to cure or diagnose health disorders. But many people around the globe are using it as a form of complementary treatment when treating some health issues. These might include; cancer, kidney disorders, diabetes, asthma and so on.

Prenatal and infant massage

The prenatal massage is a type of massage that is being administered to a pregnant client. This massage type helps to increase blood circulation, enhance sleep, boost mood and also reduce pain. A study has it that pregnant people who undergo prenatal massage tends to have lower levels of depression. And also cortisol in the postpartum period.

The prenatal massage also helps to minimise obstetrical problems in pregnant clients. and also helps to decrease pelvic and hip pain.

While the infant massage is administered to babies who suffer problems like; earaches, asthma, teething, and so on. the infant massage helps relax the baby and decrease their stress level.

Hot stone massage

The hot stone massage involves flat basalt stones; these stones are immersed in hot water and then placed on strategic parts of the body. During the hot stone massage, the standard techniques of a regular massage are employed. The basalt stones are smooth and flat; they are chosen mainly because of their ability to retain heat.

The specific areas of the body that the stones are placed includes; the back, the stomach, the face, the hands and the feet.  This type of massage helps to relieve pain and stress, increases joint flexibility, and so on. It also helps to decreases muscle spasms and tension, and improves sleep.

Acupressure massage

This type is used for everything from immune support to anxiety relief. The acupressure massage dates back to thousand years ago. The massage involves the application of pressure to specific points on the body to address certain health issues. According to traditional medicine, the Qi can affect the energy flow in the body when it becomes stuck. The acupressure aims to keep the energy flow intact while using pressure at specific points.

Acupressure is commonly employed to treat pain relief and can also help fight menstrual cramps, back pain and headaches. It is also used for other purposes which are less studied, like digestion support and the immune system.

Sports massage

Sports massage involves the manual manipulation of the body muscles. it is geared mainly towards helping people with physically demanding lifestyles or hobbies. This massage deals with the impact of some activities on some body areas. For example; muscle groups, specific joints, ligaments, tendons and soft tissue groups. The sports massage is mainly designed to help support and enhance the performance, recovery and relaxation of people. Especially those who are always involved in intense physical activities.

Sports massage is a good therapy to help you prepare for the rigors of sports cools down after also repair the body after sports injuries. This massage helps you feel relaxed and recover from catastrophic injuries. It also helps to remove toxins, improves your sleep and enhances your overall performance.

Swedish massage

The Swedish massage is used to energise the body and also to improve overall body health. Swedish massage requires activities like vibration, percussion, kneading, rolling and tapping. Massage lotion or oil is applied to help protect the skin against friction. In this type of massage, a therapist manipulates the body’s soft tissues. It uses strokes that flow towards the heart, which helps to improve blood circulation.

The Swedish massage is administered to help reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. The symptoms that could be addressed using Swedish massage are many. This includes; headaches, muscle issues, back pains and chronic pains.


Kinesiology refers to the study of the mechanics of body movements. This study helps to provide information regarding the state of health of all body systems and organs. It also uses many other healing therapies to achieve recovery. Kinesiology is a non-invasive holistic energy therapy. This type of therapy involves the combination of modern muscle monitoring techniques. It also employs principles of traditional Chinese medicine.

Kinesiology therapy goal is to help restore balance to the whole body health through promoting a self-healing process. There are various modalities of kinesiology with different benefits. These include; educational kinesiology, health kinesiology, creative kinesiology, and wellness kinesiology.


The aromatherapy revolves around holistic medicine. Which utilises extracts from natural plants for well-being and health? This type of massage operates by stimulating receptors in the nose responsible for smell. This helps send messages by olfactory cells to the part of the brain that controls the drives for emotions, instinct, and survival. It is called the limbic system. The olfactory cells sense scents as specific aromatic molecules that fit into receptors on these cells.

Aromatherapy is viewed as a popular multi-purpose way of using extra care for health issues. In this type of therapy, the skin absorbs essential oils maintaining suppleness. This often offers pain relief. The aroma’s mental stimulation provides clients with great massage sessions.

Deep tissue massage

The deep tissue massage mainly involves realigning the deeper layers of connective and muscle tissues. It helps to release chronic patterns of tension in the body through slow strokes and deep finger pressure on the tensed areas. This is done while either following or going across the fibres of the muscles, fascia and tendons. The deep tissue massage is employed to continually help tight, contracted areas in the body. Such as low back tightness, stiff necks, and sore shoulders.

Unlike other massages, deep tissue massage is more than just relaxing the muscles. It also helps increase joint movements and provides quick injury recovery. It also gives better posture and feelings of well-being.

Shiatsu massage

The shiatsu massage is a type of massage that relies mainly on the use of fingers, palm, and thumbs to exert pressure to different areas of the body’s surface. This helps heal common health issues and conditions and correct imbalances in the body. The pressure exerted to the specific points helps to promote energy flow and corrects disharmonies throughout the client’s body.

The shiatsu massage also helps to regulate the automatic nervous system activity. It also stimulates the circulatory, lymphatic and hormonal systems. Other ailments that can be treated using shiatsu massage include; sprain, acute and chronic neck and back pain, bronchitis, poor posture, etc.

Thai massage

Thai massage is known as a therapeutic massage typically in the category of alternative and complementary medicines. It is a deeply relaxing, tension-relieving practice of mindful movements. These movements help to increase an individual range of motions and encourage flexibility through its unique blend of assisted yoga, stretching, breathwork and massage.

The thai massage helps provide certain health benefits like; improving circulation, improving mobility, improving the immune system, stress reduction, headache relief, lowering anxiety, easing chronic lower back pain, etc. This type of massage is also popularly used by athletes and sports enthusiasts as a recovery method.

Lymphatic drainage massage

A lymphatic drainage massage is a gentle massage used to relieve painful swelling in your legs and arms caused by lymphedema. Lymphedema often occurs when your tissues retain fluid left behind after the cardiovascular system sends blood to your organs and tissues. To solve this, the lymphatic drainage massage is employed to help move lymph for your tissues to your lymph nodes, which helps to ease the swelling in your tissues.

Although the lymphatic drainage massage is commonly used to relieve lymphedema following breast cancer surgery, it can also be employed for other ailments like; lipedema, chronic venous insufficiency, fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid arthritis.

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Pursuing a career as a massage therapist could be a life-changing decision you will be making, considering the many benefits that come with it. A massage therapist can easily work independently or decide to be employed in spas, vacation resorts or fitness centres. They also earn a very decent income when compared to other jobs.

If you have a passion for giving a great massage, becoming a massage therapist is the best career path. As reviewed in this article, becoming a certified massage therapist would require you to take some important steps.

About The Author

Daren Nadav

Daren Nadav

Daren Nadav is the Co Founder of CourseForMe, which is a leading platform to find the best courses available online and delivers inspiring content related to eLearning. Daren holds a B.A in Economics and business management.

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