A massage therapist uses a variety of massage techniques to improve client’s overall health and well being. They use touch, heat, infrared light or water therapy to stimulate blood flow and relax muscles, often as part of a physician’s recommendation.
Massage therapists enjoy a large amount of freedom in their work schedule, often working varied hours every week. Almost 64% of therapists are self employed, either owning their own businesses or acting as contractors for several different locations.
In many states, massage therapy training programs are approved by a state board or an independent accrediting agency. Many massage therapists opt for the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB) so that they can use this nationally recognized credential. Before starting a massage therapy program, you should look into requirements in the state where you plan to practice.
Most massage therapy positions don’t require a degree, but it is a good idea to get a background in health care and business, particularly if you plan to become self-employed. Many of these core courses can be taken online before you enroll in a clinical massage therapy program.
Massage therapists work in a variety of settings and largely set their own hours. They may work in a spa, health club, resort, medical facility, retail center or even on a cruise ship. Most massage therapists work part-time, often working evenings and weekends to accommodate their client’s schedules. A massage therapist should possess the following skills in order to succeed:
A massage therapist will often specialize in several different types of massage such as Swedish, deep tissue, sports massage or acupressure. They type of client’s they work on often depends on the reasons they are seeking the massage and their physical condition.
With an increased interest in holistic healing and alternative medicine, the job prospects for massage therapists are expected to grow 20% through 2016. Many medical plans are starting to recognize therapeutic massage as a legitimate treatment for many injuries and ailments.
The median average hourly salary including gratuities for massage therapists was $16.06 in May 2006. About 15% of a therapist’s salary will come from gratuities.
Salaries can increase as a therapist develops a loyal clientele and is able to charge more for massage services. Many self-employed massage therapists cultivate long-term relationships with their clients, relying on referrals and return visits to increase their business.