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What Are My Career Options in Massage?

A massage therapist's work is concentrated on healing or relaxing others through touch. Essential qualities for success in this field include compassion and good communications skills. Read on to learn about the types of jobs you can find in this profession.

Massage Careers Overview

There are many options for careers in massage therapy, including in the personal relaxation or the health care sectors. You might opt for independent contractor work, providing massage therapy for businesses seeking these services. If you'd like a regular salary, you can find positions within sports centers, spa resorts, hospitals or rehabilitation clinics. You can even start your own massage clinic. As the popularity of this type of treatment continues to rise, your job prospects should be good.

Important Facts About Massage Therapists

Median Salary (2020) $43,620
Job Outlook (2019-2029) 21%
Key Skills Physical strength and endurance; manual dexterity; compassion; good judgment and decision making; clear communication
Similar Occupations Exercise physiologists; physical therapists; physical therapy assistants and aides; athletic trainers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training and Licensing

While standards vary by jurisdiction, most states and some municipalities regulate the practice of massage therapy. Therapists may be required to obtain a license or certification after completing an approved training program. These training programs usually consist of at least 500 hours of study, but some require twice that. Applicants for licensure may have to pass a competency exam as well as a criminal background check.

Self-Employed

Supposing you intend to start your own business, you'll want to know about business ethics in addition to your massage skills. As a business owner, you'll be responsible for leasing a location and providing necessary equipment such as a massage table and oils. If you employ a receptionist or assistant, you'll provide pay and benefits. As the owner, you can set the hours you prefer, prices and types of services you provide. You may offer house calls for clients who cannot travel or who prefer the message be performed in their home.

Independent Contractor

If you would prefer not to run a business and pay for location rent and employee wages, you can choose to be an independent contractor instead. The main difference here is that you're leasing your talents to a company or business seeking massage services. You'll be in charge of negotiating the terms of your work duration, fees, and provisions as well as defining the services you're expected to perform. Keep in mind that as an independent contractor, you won't typically be entitled to employee benefits or insurance offered by the company. Basically, you are your employer, and the company is your client.

Salary-Paid

If you'd prefer to work as a salary-paid employee with benefits, you can find work within hospitals, spa resorts or fitness centers. Working in a hospital setting, you'll likely be performing rehabilitative massage therapy. You may also seek work in nursing homes, since massage therapy aids in wellness for the elderly. In sports and fitness centers, your clients will commonly be athletes looking to maximize muscle performance or soothe body pains from injuries. Massage therapists working in spa resorts tend to offer services for people looking for leisure relaxation.