Therapeutic massage is used to alleviate ailments caused by stress or injuries, as well as to help clients maintain health and relaxation. While therapeutic massage may be a physically demanding career, it is also a flexible one that allows therapists to set their own schedules. Read on to learn more.
Therapeutic massage is a healing art that involves manipulating the body's soft tissue for a specific purpose, such as promoting circulation, reducing stress or alleviating pain. Many different modalities, or types, of therapeutic massage are available, including acupressure, Swedish massage and deep-tissue massage. Massage therapists usually are familiar with a few modalities and may use different ones depending on the needs of the client.
Most states require you to gain licensure before you can practice massage therapy, which typically means that you need to have attended a training program accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA). Many massage therapists are self-employed and are able to choose the clients that they feel they can benefit most. As a massage therapist, you can often set your own hours and have career flexibility not found in many other health care fields.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for massage therapists are expected to grow by 19% between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than average when compared to all other careers (www.bls.gov). This growth is believed to be due to increased demand from the aging population and a growing popularity of massage among young people as well. The mean annual salary for massage therapists in May 2010 was $39,770.
In order to pursue a career as a massage therapist, completing an accredited massage therapy program is recommended. Most programs in public or private schools require at least 500 hours of study, with some culminating in an associate's degree in massage therapy. Massage therapy degree programs may include classes in anatomy and physiology, legal ethics and pathology for massage.
In addition to completing an accredited massage therapy program, the 42 states that regulate massage therapists also require you to pass either a state exam or a national exam. Depending on local and state regulations, additional requirements, such as a background check or first aid training, may also apply.