What Is a Clinical Massage Therapist?

Are you interested in helping people find relief from injury, soreness and chronic pain? If so, you may want to explore a career as a clinical massage therapist. Read on to find out more about how practitioners of clinical massage, also known as medical massage, treat muscle injuries and soft tissue pain. Schools offering Holistic Health Practitioner degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Clinical Massage Therapist Defined

Massage is often associated with stress reduction and relaxation. When you work as a clinical massage therapist, however, you perform therapeutic massage using physical touch and pressure to heal injuries.

Important Facts About Clinical Massage Therapists

Median Salary (2018) $41,420 per year
Key Skills Physical strength and endurance, manual dexterity, time management, good judgment and decision making, excellent communication,
Work Environment Personal care services; offices of other health practitioners; traveler accommodations; hospitals; other amusement and recreation industries
Similar Occupations Athletic trainers; exercise physiologists; physical therapy assistants and aides; physical therapists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

Your job duties as a clinical massage therapist include talking to clients to determine their symptoms, expectations and medical histories. You'll evaluate your clients to find problem areas before performing massage. You'll also provide tips on improving posture, strength, flexibility and relaxation.


Clinical massage therapy consists of a variety of modalities that allow practitioners to apply fixed or moving manipulation to the soft body tissues. You will usually be trained in several such techniques. Examples of clinical massage modalities include deep tissue massage and sports massage.

Deep Tissue Massage

One common technique you might use as a clinical massage therapist is deep tissue massage, which can relieve chronic patterns of muscular tension. As a practitioner of this technique, you use various parts of the hands and arms, such as the fingers, fist and forearm, to apply greater pressure to the muscles than is found in other modalities. You must use care when using this technique to avoid injuring your patients or yourself.

Sports Massage

As a clinical massage therapist, you might treat patients with sports-related injuries or injuries related to other strenuous physical activity. Your treatments might also serve to enhance an athlete's performance by alleviating muscle soreness or strain. These applications will be sought most often in sports medicine clinics or fitness centers.

Education Requirements

You can earn a diploma, certificate or associate degree through an accredited clinical massage program. During your training, you will probably have to complete courses in anatomy, kinesiology and various massage techniques, as well as a certain number of clinical practicum sessions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require massage therapists to be licensed (www.bls.gov). Your licensing requirements are determined by the state in which you intend to practice, though most include passing either a state exam, the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB) or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx).

Clinical Massage Therapy Career Outlook

The BLS reported that massage therapy jobs were predicted to increase by 26% from 2016-2026, which was much faster than the average for other occupations. Many workers only find part-time positions, particularly when they start out in their career.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Florida: Pensacola
    • Maryland: Pensacola, Towson
    • New Jersey: Pensacola, Towson, Wayne
    • Virginia: Pensacola, Towson, Wayne, Norfolk
  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of Alaska

    Campus Locations:

    • Alaska: Anchorage
  • American Career College

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Anaheim, Los Angeles
  • Branford Hall Career Institute

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Connecticut: Branford, Southington, Windsor
    • Massachusetts: Branford, Southington, Windsor, Springfield
  • Southwestern College

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Kentucky: Florence
    • Ohio: Florence, Dayton
  • Withlacoochee Technical Institute

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Inverness