How Can I Study to Be a Masseuse or Masseur?

If you enjoy working with your hands and are interested in promoting healing and relaxation without the use of drugs, a career as a masseuse or a masseur may be a good fit for you. Read on to find out the education requirements to enter this occupation. Schools offering Holistic Health Practitioner degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Masseuse Career Overview

Masseuses, otherwise known as massage therapists, manipulate the soft tissues of their clients' bodies to relieve pain, improve circulation, increase relaxation, relieve stress and rehabilitate injuries. You'll evaluate your clients in order to locate tense areas of the body, discuss symptoms and give advice on stretching and relaxation. When performing massage, you may employ the use of your hands, forearms, fingers, elbows and even feet. The technique that you use will depend on your client's needs and physical condition. You could specialize in a specific modality, such as sports massage, Swedish massage or deep-tissue massage.

Important Facts Massage Therapy

Key Skills Communication, dexterity, empathy
Work Environment Spa, fitness center, physician's office
Similar Occupations Athletic trainer, exercise physiologist, physical therapist
Required Education 500 hours of study in massage therapy program in a postsecondary institution (some states require more)

Programs of Study for Massage Therapy

Most massage therapy programs award an associate's degree or a certificate. You might train in general massage therapy, or you could specialize in one of the many different methods. Courses in a general massage program will teach you basic anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, psychology and pathology. Courses will emphasize ethics in treatment.

You'll also learn the fundamental massage techniques, such as rehabilitative and deep tissue massage, as well as more specialized modalities. Other modalities you may explore include Swedish massage, myofascial release and the neuromuscular technique. You could learn about special massage methods for treating the elderly, athletes or expectant mothers. You'll learn the difference between using massage to treat an injury and using it as a means of relaxation. You might even explore Eastern massage and hydrotherapy. Near the end of your program, you'll usually gain hands-on practice in a clinic.


Most states require that you become licensed before you practice massage therapy. In order to receive licensure, you must have graduated from an approved program and passed a state exam or either an exam administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination, which is administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. You may also need to pass a background check and earn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. Continuing education is typically required to maintain your license.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 26% increase in employment of massage therapists between 2016 and 2026. This projected increase may be attributed to a number of factors, including an increase in massage clinic franchises, an aging baby-boom generation and more state regulations regarding the practice of massage therapy. According to the BLS, in May 2018, the median annual wage for massage therapists was $41,420.

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