If you have a keen interest in the human body and helping people, a massage therapy career might be for you.
Here are five steps to get you started toward becoming a massage therapist.
Become familiar with various massage techniques and other bodywork. Do you want to learn Swedish and Western styles of massage (such as neuromuscular therapy, trigger point therapy, and sports massage)? Or are you interested in shiatsu, acupressure, and other Asian bodywork?
Read about massage and receive as many sessions from as many different practitioners as you can. For more in-depth knowledge, read the massage trade publications: Massage Magazine, Massage Therapy Journal (publication of the American Massage Therapy Association), Massage & Bodywork (publication of Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals), and Massage Today. Massage therapy as a profession requires a commitment to continual learning.
Take inventory of yourself and your motivations for wanting a massage therapy career:
Find out about licensing or other legal requirements in the city/county/state/country where you want to practice. Many U.S. states and some Canadian provinces have massage licensing laws. A license is not necessarily transferable from one state to another. For example, some states require as little as 250 hours of training, while others require 1000 hours or more.
Check with your state/province. In states without licensing laws (and sometimes in states with laws), cities or counties may have their own requirements. Check with the business licensing division of the local government.
Decide what type of massage or bodywork training you want. Do you solely want to do relaxation massage or do you want to work in a hospital or other medical setting? Some massage training programs are specific to one or two types of massage while other programs are more general.
Choose a massage school
that offers training in the areas that interest you and meets the legal
requirements of the location where you plan to work. Contact several schools in the city or state where you want to study.
Get details about the programs or courses offered, the schedule, and the
Visit the schools! Your first impressions often tell you a lot. If the school offers an introductory class or career day, attend it to check out the school and instructors. You might also ask to observe a class, meet with current students and instructors, and/or talk with graduates.
Many schools have student clinics where the public can receive massage sessions from students at a discounted price. Schedule a session to see what goes on inside.
Ask a lot of questions. Interview the school—the same as they will interview you. Reputable schools will give you all the information you ask for. Here are some possible questions:
On a more personal level, other factors to consider include:
As you approach the end of massage school, develop a massage therapy career or business plan to get you started in your new career.
Understand the different settings where you can do massage therapy: private practice, massage clinics, spas, resorts, cruise ships, health clubs and fitness centers, medical settings (chiropractor’s or other doctor’s office, holistic health or sports medicine clinic, nursing homes, hospitals), sports teams, housecalls, and onsite chair massage.
You have a number of options for starting your massage therapy career, including:
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