Massage, Bodywork, Health and Fitness

Advice for a Career in Massage Therapy!

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Ever thought about becoming a massage therapist or otherwise involved in the massage industry? We here at Massage Works in Los Gatos endorse your dream!  It’s not the simplest thing in the world but if you’ve got talent and a fire inside then you owe it to yourself to pursue your dream! Here is a list (not comprehensive, but a good start) that will help you focus your energies and get an idea of what exactly it is you need to do to chase down the dream!

  1. Figure out if your heart’s in the right place. You might be good with your hands, but are you also patient and empathetic? Massage therapists need to be concerned about other people’s holistic wellbeing. Receiving a massage is a very intimate experience. A good massage therapist respects that the art of massage is both physical and emotional.
  2. Learn about the art of massage. A great way to learn more about the massage arts is to talk with a massage therapist, and get a massage yourself. Ask plenty of questions about what the profession entails, and start thinking about what type of massage therapist you want to be.

    • Do some research. Look online for information about different types of massage, or check out massage books at your local library. You can learn a lot about massage therapy just by reading about it.
    • Practice on friends. Start getting a feel for what your “bedside manner” should be like, and how a typical session should go.
  3. Consider specializing. There are many specialties in massage therapy and most massage therapists concentrate on one or more of these, especially when starting out. Different types of massage are used to different ends; some are geared toward healing muscles, some toward easing stress, and others toward helping with specific physical ailments. While you can, and probably will, learn more than one massage style, it’s a good idea to think about what you’re most interested in so that you can be sure to get appropriate training. Here are a few different types of massage to look into:

Part 2 of 3: Getting Licensed and Certified

  1. Research your jurisdiction’s licensing requirements. Before you start training, it’s a good idea to make sure that you understand how to satisfy your jurisdiction’s licensing requirements so you’ll know what kind of training will qualify you to be licensed.

    • In the U.S. most states have some form of licensing, so check with your state’s licensing board to get more information. Keep in mind that even if your state does not have licensing requirements, your city or county may.
    • Some jurisdictions require licensing for some types of massage but not for others.
  2. Find a suitable training program. There are plenty of massage schools out there. You may have seen their ads or even received advertising materials for some of them. Keep in mind that these schools are businesses that are trying to make money, so be sure to check out all their claims carefully. Look for a program that leads to certification and which satisfies your jurisdiction’s licensing requirements, which may include accreditation.

    • Most massage schools teach basic Swedish massage and allow you to choose other specialties in addition to that. Look for a school that caters to any specialties you are most interested in.
    • You can research schools online, or you can ask massage therapists what schools they went to and what they thought of their experiences.
    • You’ll also want to consider your budget. Massage schools can be quite expensive, with tuition ranging from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands. Most schools offer some kind of financial assistance, including federal student loans.
    Complete your training program. In the U.S., many states require at least 500-600 hours of training, so you can expect to spend at least that much time in the classroom and practicing. You can find a range of course lengths. How long it takes you to complete the program will depend on how many classes you take at one time; how quickly you complete your “practice” massages, and what your specialty is. Depending on the program you take, you will graduate either with certification in a certain specialty or with a degree.
  3. Consider Getting certified. Not all jurisdictions require certification, but becoming board certified can open a lot of doors for you. In the U.S. the National Certification Board of Massage Therapy administers an exam-based certification program. National Certification is not really needed unless it is required by your state for licensing.
  4. Get licensed. As mentioned before, you may need to become licensed in your jurisdiction. Your school should be able to assist you in understanding the licensing requirements and obtaining your license. National Certification is required by some states in the U.S., while others do not require it, and others require their own professional licensing exam.

    • Many states are now accepting another exam offered by the Federation of Massage State Boards, which could lead to National Certification becoming obsolete.
    • If you plan to start your own business, you will also most likely need to also get a business license from your state or municipality before you can practice.


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