What Is the Average Salary of a Massage Therapist?

Are you interested in a career as a massage therapist and wish to know more about your possible salary? Read on to learn about how several factors, including your professional experience, education and employer, can affect what you make. Schools offering Holistic Health Practitioner degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

If you like working with your hands and want to help people recover from stress or injuries, you might enjoy working as a massage therapist. Depending on the types of massage you practice, you might use your arms, hands, or body weight to manipulate a client's soft tissues and muscles to improve circulation, relieve soreness and reduce tension. Specialized types of massage include Swedish massage, sports massage, Thai massage and deep-tissue massage. In order to appeal to a wider client base and increase your earning potential, you might want to specialize in more than one type of massage therapy.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Entry-level Education Postsecondary non-degree award
Similar Occupations Physical therapists, athletic trainers, exercise physiologists
Key Skills Decision-making and communication skills; physical stamina, strength, and dexterity; empathy
Work Environment A variety of settings, including clinics, private practice, spas, gyms and other facilities

Education Requirements

Your requirements in order to practice massage therapy will vary quite a bit from state to state. You may wish to pursue a professional training program and inquire as to your state's rules regarding licensing. Becoming certified might also give you a competitive edge against non-certified massage therapists and increase your credibility in the eyes of potential clients. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) is one example of an organization which offers a credentialing exam; you must have 750 hours of instruction in a training program in order to qualify for their test.

Average Salary Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual wage of a massage therapist was $41,790 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The bottom 10% of workers made $18,460 or less annually, while the top 10% of workers made $71,950 or more. Your salary as a massage therapist depends on several things, including your years of experience, level of education and employer.

Salary by Experience

Your salary may be less than the national average when you first start out. PayScale.com salary data from September 2015 showed that massage therapists with 0-5 years of experience earned $15,162-$48,241, and those with 5-10 years of experience received $18,634-$53,304. Annual earnings increased to $19,479-$52,196 with 10-20 years of experience.

Salary by Employer

Salaries are often highest in healthcare services and medical offices. However, if you work in a medical care facility, your clients may be less likely to provide a gratuity, since your work may be perceived as a medical procedure rather than a service. The BLS reported that those working for individual and family services and other schools and instruction made the highest mean wages of $64,710 and $62,060, respectively. Personal care services and offices of other health practitioners had the highest employment levels of massage therapists, and mean wages in these industries were $39,060 and $44,960, respectively.

Salary by Location

According to the BLS, mean wages for the states that had the most massage therapists employed in May 2014 were $42,070 for California, $41,110 for Florida, $37,230 for Texas, $49,650 for Washington and $42,310 for Arizona. States with the highest mean annual wages for this career included Alaska ($84,270), New York ($55,030), Delaware ($53,840), Hawaii ($51,510) and Massachusetts ($51,280). Massage therapists working in the lowest paying states received mean earnings of $18,550-$32,970. Some of these locations included Indiana, Nevada, Alabama, New Mexico, Nebraska and Montana.

Job Outlook

The BLS expects fast growth for massage therapists over the 2012-2022 decade of 23%. The BLS notes that formal training and networking can help improve job prospects for this career.

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