Masseuse: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Training Requirements

Explore the career requirements for masseuses. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Holistic Health Practitioner degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Masseuse?

A masseuse, also known as a massage therapist, may specialize in a form of massage, like deep tissue or sports massage. By conducting medical interviews and reviewing medical records, massage therapists locate painful and tense parts of the body. They then manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues in those areas to help alleviate pain and tension. Masseuses also teach different stretches and postures that alleviate tension, promote relaxation and build muscle strength. The following chart gives you an overview of a career as a masseuse.

Degree Required Post-secondary certificate
Education Field of Study Massage therapy
Key Responsibilities Obtain medical history and symptoms; evaluate client physical status; manipulate muscle and tissue to obtain therapeutic results; keep records on client treatment, status and progress
Licensure and/or Certification 45 states require licensure or certification
Job Growth (2014-2024) 22%*
Median Salary (2015) $38,040*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Will I Perform as a Masseuse?

Masseuses, more commonly called massage therapists, use touch to promote wellness, healing and relaxation. Massage may be used to treat injuries, lower stress levels, reduce chronic pain or maintain health. As a massage therapist, you can choose to specialize in one or more specific types of massage, such as deep-tissue massage, acupressure, Swedish massage or sports massage. You will take your client's medical history and physical condition into consideration when deciding which massage techniques to employ. If you do not specialize in a type of massage that would benefit your client, you may refer him or her to another massage therapist.

Prior to performing massage on a client, you will assess his or her muscle and joint condition, range of motion and strength levels. In addition to applying manual pressure to your client's body with your hands and fingers, you may use aids such as ice, infrared lamps, oils or lotions to enhance the effects of your massage. To further help your clients improve their physical health, you may also instruct them in strengthening or rehabilitative exercises, stretching methods and relaxation techniques.

What Is the Expected Employment Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that massage therapists would experience faster-than-average employment growth of 22% over the 2014-2024 decade. This growth could be due to an increasing number of spas and massage clinics, as well as the more widespread knowledge of the benefits of massage. Since referrals are an important source of clients for massage therapists, job prospected are expected to be best for those who network and join professional organizations.

What Are the Training Requirements?

According to the BLS, most states regulate the field of massage therapy and require that a person complete a formal training program, pass an examination and earn a license before working as a massage therapist. Massage therapy programs may take about a year to complete and usually result in a certificate. While enrolled in a massage therapy program, you may take science courses, receive hands-on training in massage techniques and complete clinical rotations or an internship. Courses may include anatomy, physiology, nutrition, medical terminology, kinesiology and ethics. Some programs may allow you to choose a specialty, such as pregnancy massage, sports massage or reflexology.

Depending on your state's laws, you may need to earn a license before you can begin working. Your state may administer its own licensing exam, or you may need to pass the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB) or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). You may be required to periodically renew your license through renewal testing or continuing education credits.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Like masseuses, athletic trainers are tasked with diagnosing and treating muscle injuries and illnesses, as well as coaching clients in ways to prevent them. Exercise physiologists help clients create fitness and exercise programs that may improve cardiovascular function, body composition and flexibility. Physical therapist assistants work under physical therapists and help patients rehabilitate movement and manage pain.

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