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How Much Schooling To Be A Massage Therapist

By David Krug 8 minute read

Getting a decent massage can help people relax, but it can also have a positive impact on their health and well-being. To be successful in this job path, you must have the ability to work with your hands in close proximity to other people — in this case, your clients – and touch them frequently.

For those who wish to practice in the field of massage therapy and receive a license to do so, a college degree is not usually the end result of this training.

What is Therapeutic Massage?

Physical manipulation of soft tissues in the form of massage therapy is used to reduce physical pain and suffering as well as develop relaxation and alleviate stress more generally. 

Massage therapists are educated to conduct massage therapy. Swedish, Shiatsu, deep-tissue, neuromuscular, and sports massage are just a few of the many modalities of massage. For the customer, each massage has its own set of advantages.

Several advantages come with a job in massage treatment. It’s an exciting time to be a massage therapist, since demand is rising and there are many options for employment. 

Preparing for a profession in massage therapy involves nothing more than high school education, and the cost of such education is quite low in comparison to other investments in education. According to a poll performed by massage table sales firm, certified massage therapists have reported high levels of work satisfaction in the past.

According to U.S. News & World Report, massage therapists report lower-than-average levels of work-related stress and higher-than-average levels of employment flexibility.

Which degree is necessary to become a massage therapist?

Education beyond high school does not usually equal or conclude in the completion of a degree in massage therapy. According to the BLS, a postsecondary nondegree award is the official entry-level education required to operate as a massage therapist. As a result, an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree isn’t typically required to get started in this line of work. 

You can, however, find the postsecondary non degree program you need to become a masseuse at your local community or technical college.

In order to apply to a massage therapy program, you must have either a high school diploma or equivalent (such as a GED) before you can be accepted. Instead of being academic, non degree massage therapy schools focus on professional development and hands-on experience.

Rather than completing the general education requirements of an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree program, you can concentrate your study on the specific academic content and practical experience necessary to become a masseuse.

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in massage therapy takes longer to earn than a non degree program in the same field. The length of time it takes to finish a massage therapy training program might vary widely depending on the state in which you wish to study (and the state’s licensure criteria).

The amount of training hours necessary for licensing is the most important element in determining how long you will spend in school for massage therapy. For those who want to get their massage therapy certification faster, several schools offer an expedited framework.

Is a Masseuse Degree Available?

Let’s say you want to attend college, either because you enjoy studying or because you want to obtain a diploma. If you’re planning to open a spa, salon, or other company in the future, you may need a college degree to help you get there. A college degree is not required to work as a masseur, but it will not prevent you from finding employment in the sector and may even help you further your career.

More than a quarter of massage therapists report having a postsecondary certificate as their greatest level of education, according to O*NET, which indicates that the profession has a wide range of educational attainment among its members.

Massage therapists with an associate’s degree, generally known as a two-year degree, make up 12 percent of the workforce. 8 percent of massage therapists have some college coursework that didn’t lead to a degree in the top three most prevalent education levels for this job path. Workers with diverse educational backgrounds made up the remainder of the massage therapists. Four-year colleges and universities award these bachelor’s degrees.

Both an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree are available in massage therapy. A trade-off for spending two or four years of your life in school is that you’ll have to take additional courses pertinent to your employment as a massage therapist, as well as general education classes.

A degree isn’t out of the question just because you began your work with a diploma or certificate. If you currently have a license as a massage therapist but want to further your education, you may be eligible for an associate degree bridging program offered by community colleges and other institutions.

What to Expect From Massage Therapist Training

For the most part, all that’s needed to become a massage therapist in the US is a one- or two-year non degree training program. You may expect to learn about anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, body mechanics, pathology, and the rules, ethics, and regulations that govern massage therapy in these programs. 

If you’re interested in learning about a number of massage techniques, such as Swedish massage, neuromuscular therapy and reflexology as well as essential duties such as client evaluation, reassessment and treatment planning, you’ll need to take a variety of classes.
Even in massage therapy associate and bachelor degree programs, you may be able to learn and practice a range of massage treatments.

There is a good chance you’ll also study holistic health and the fundamentals of massage therapy as part of your degree program (anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and pathology). General education courses outside of your main course requirements, such as communication, mathematics, laboratory science, social science, and the arts and humanities are common in both associate’s degree programs and bachelor’s degree programs.

Along with broadening one’s perspective on the world, general education classes can assist students improve their reading, writing, critical thinking, and overall learning abilities. There are a variety of places where massage students may hone their skills, including the facilities where they do their internships and the student massage clinics located on their respective college campuses.

Massage Therapist Business Studies

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, more massage therapists are self-employed than in any other industry (BLS). They can even open their own spa, massage parlor or personal care service business and run it as their own CEO or manager.

Massage therapy techniques are the most important part of your education for building a successful massage therapy business; however, formal studies in areas such as marketing, hospitality, or entrepreneurship may also be beneficial to your role as business professional or business owner and manager.

A program of study leading to a bachelor’s degree in business administration typically incorporates courses from several different business specialties. A business administration degree will provide you a well-rounded education in a variety of topics, including finance, accounting, management, marketing, economics, and human resource management.

Product and service promotion is a primary focus of marketing, a business degree program. Studying marketing in addition to a career in massage therapy might help you better advertise a firm you own or work for. A common course of study for marketing majors include marketing research, marketing strategy, and the psychology of consumers.

Hotel management, resort management, restaurant management, and other aspects of the hospitality industry are all included in the broad category of hospitality. In order to run a spa in a resort or as a stand-alone attraction in an area with a high volume of tourists, you may want to consider pursuing a degree in hospitality management.

There are several hospitality-related initiatives that are extremely targeted. Typical topics in a spa management degree program could include: different types of spa and wellness businesses, industry trends, the history of traditional health rituals, spa equipment, spa architecture and design, spa marketing tactics, and sales of spa products and services. As an example, other programs in the hotel industry focus on a broader range of topics.

Consider entrepreneurship if you’d like to establish a business of your own. Students pursuing an entrepreneurship degree typically take business courses in addition to classes that focus on launching new businesses or expanding existing businesses, such as courses in financing entrepreneurial ventures, legal aspects of entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, new venture development, and growth strategies.

Massage therapy and a bachelor’s degree in business do not have to go hand in hand in order for you to be successful in your career. If you’re serious about creating your own spa or service, you may simultaneously study toward your business degree and get certified as a massage therapist.

Massage Therapist Licensure and Certification

In the early stages of your career, it may be beneficial to have a business degree, but this degree cannot substitute for formal training in massage therapy — at least not if you are a one-person firm and are personally performing the massages. In 45 states and the District of Columbia, massage therapists are required to be licensed to practice, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

State-specific licensing requirements vary in terms of the number of training hours needed. To become a massage therapist in the United States, you should anticipate to spend at least 500 hours in training. Graduating from a massage therapy school qualifies you to sit for your state’s licensure test. If you want to be licensed to practice massage or bodywork in your state, you’ll need to take the national Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx).

A few states require massage therapists to take continuing education courses and re-apply for their licensure.

Opportunities for Massage Therapists

If you’re looking for a flexible profession, massage therapy is an excellent option. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 144,600 massage therapists working in the United States as of 2020. This profession is expected to see a substantially greater than normal 32 percent growth rate (or 46,500 new jobs) between the years 2020 and 2030 according to the BLS.

For massage therapists, the BLS estimated that in 2020, the median annual compensation was $43,620, however those who work in health professionals’ offices reported having a higher median wage. According to the survey, massage therapists who earn less than $22,580 per year are in the bottom 10% of the profession, while those who earn at least $79,000 are in the top 10% of the field.

There were 38 percent of workers in 2020 who said they were self-employed. Another 31 percent of massage therapists worked in the personal care business. Only 8 percent of massage therapists were hired by chiropractors, and 11 percent of massage therapists were employed by other health practitioners. Another 5% of massage therapists were employed in the lodging business.

Massage therapists can find work in a variety of settings, including spas and salons, health clubs, resorts, private offices, and mobile services, in which the therapist visits customers at their homes.

Ethics and sensitivity to the client’s demands and comfort level are vital in massage therapy practice since clients must often be partially or totally disrobed. Massage therapists need to be physically fit and have a solid understanding of the right techniques they will be using.

David Krug