Massage Therapy Degree Programs

Massage therapy programs will teach you a variety of massage techniques and prepare you for a career as a massage therapist. Read on to learn more about the various programs, licensing and certification, and career prospects. Schools offering Holistic Health Practitioner degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Programs Like?

Massage therapy degree, diploma and certificate programs can vary in length and requirements. They're often designed to meet requirements for the state in which they operate. Some programs take 500 hours, but others take 750 hours. While not common, associate's degree programs are out there and include general education courses in addition to massage-specific coursework.

Most massage therapy training programs cover basic medical terminology, the structure of the human body, basic massage techniques and business practices. You also spend a lot of your time in hands-on situations, allowing you to practice deep tissue, Swedish, sports and other massage techniques. Some schools have labs, and you might get to work with the public in clinics. Due to the experiential nature of massage therapy training, you won't be able to earn a degree, certificate or diploma in an online setting.

Degree Levels Certificate, diploma, associate's
Field Focus Basic massage techniques, structure of the human body, business practices
Occupational Requirements License or certificate required
Licenses and Certifications Available Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination, National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork
Career Opportunities Massage therapist in hospitals, spas, gyms, or self-employed

How Can I Work in Massage Therapy?

To work as a massage therapist, you usually need to be licensed or certified by your state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), each state has different requirements, but at least 500 hours of training and practice are often necessary. You can find massage therapy schools around the country, including community colleges and private, for-profit institutions that specialize in the field.

Most training programs grant diplomas or certificates and often take less than a year to complete. Once you meet your state or locality's training requirements, you usually have to sit for an exam. There are two at the national level: the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination and the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. Some states may have their own exam, the BLS reported. Once you're licensed or certified, you'll probably need to maintain your credentials through regular continuing education and training.

What Might My Career Be Like?

Once you complete your massage therapy training program and meet your state's requirements, you can find work in settings such as hospitals, spas, gyms and medical offices. Many massage therapists are self-employed, and some travel to clients' homes. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (, massage therapists could see 22% job growth between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average. Wages can vary. The BLS reported that the bottom 10% of all massage therapists made $18,860 or less per year as of May 2015, while the top 10% earned about $74,860 or more per year. The BLS determined that the median salary was $38,040 as of 2015.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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