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 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
Average Salary (2018) $45,880*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 26%*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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 $45,880 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The bottom 10% of workers made $21,340 or less annually, while the top 10% of workers made $78,280 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 May 2019 showed that the majority of massage therapists with 1-4 years of experience earned $19,000-$51,000 annually, and those with 5-9 years of experience received $19,000-$56,000. Annual earnings increased to $23,000-$65,000 for the majority of those with 10-19 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 psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals and individual and family services made the highest mean wages of $84,180 and $61,860, 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 $44,080 and $49,400, respectively.

Salary by Location

According to the BLS, mean wages for the states that had the highest concentration of massage therapist jobs in May 2018 were $61,750 for Hawaii, $46,190 for Colorado, $82,280 for Alaska, $62,520 for Washington and $29,620 for Nevada. States with the highest mean annual wages for this career included Alaska ($82,280), Oregon ($64,360), Washington ($62,520), Hawaii ($61,750) and Massachusetts ($53,750). Massage therapists working in the lowest paying states received mean earnings of $24,760-$39,370. Some of these locations included Kansas, Nevada, Alabama, South Dakota, Ohio and West Virginia.

Job Outlook

The BLS expects fast growth for massage therapists over the 2016-2026 decade at a rate of 26%. The BLS notes that formal training and networking can help improve job prospects for this career.

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