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Career In Massage Therapy

Becoming a massage therapist can be quite an adventure. As a matter of fact, I really can't think of a better time than now to join us and take up the torch and share your love for people and community through your heart and hands. However, that said, I encourage you to look deeply within and ask yourself if your energy and love for people can best be represented through your heart and hands by becoming a massage therapist. Now, if your story turns out anything like mine, I'm confident you'll discover a career as a massage therapist to be a noble pursuit filled with exceeding rewards and ever changing adventures.

But first things first. There are 4 books that I'd like to mention which I am indebted to for helping me make my decision to stake my claim in the massage therapy industry. In addition to reading these same books to help guide *you* through your decision making, I'd like to also recommend that you receive a few massages yourself to make certain that becoming a massage therapist is in deed in your future. One last thing. This list was created several years ago for *myself* and consists of personal ramblings and thoughts to help make a definitive decision whether life as a massage therapist was "in the cards? for me. What follows here is my attempt to make those thoughts coherent and helpful to you. Much of the following musings can also be found in the 3 books below. I have gathered some of the 3 authors thoughts below, but for the most part much of what follows represents my own personal feeling & thoughts about becoming a massage therapist.

Suggested Reading For Those Who Are Considering Being A Massage Therapist:
  1. Massage Therapy Career Guide for Hands-On Success by Steve Capellini
  2. Massage: A Career at your Fingertips by Martin Ashley
  3. Business Mastery: A Guide for Creating a Fulfilling, Thriving Business and Keeping it Successful by Cherie M. Sohnen-Moe
  4. If the above is not enough, read David A. Palmer’s The Bodywork Entrepreneur

Tip: I suggest reading these books in the order listed above as well as looking for the most recent editions.
Much of the ideas & thoughts on this page can be found in greater detail in these insightful books.

For Money Or Just For Fun

As a massage therapist, you have the option to work for money or just work for free on friends, family and people in need as a sort of hobby on a part time basis. If you're interested in learning massage just for fun, watch out! When word gets out around town that "you've got the touch", you'll find yourself with new friends you never knew you had. I agree with massage therapist extraordinaire Steve Capellini's thoughts, that you'll be a big hit at many parties as your skills are revealed and happily taken advantage of! On a more serious note, the world honestly needs a lot more "massage hobbyists" that are interested in sharing their heart through their hands with people that truly are touch starved. Senior citizens in convalescent homes are in dire need of your caring touch as many of these individuals do not get the company they once had in time past. Hospices and homeless shelters are another place where you will find a great appreciation for your efforts. Believe me, once you return to one of these facility's after being there once or twice previously offering massage, you'll be received by an audience that believes in their heart that you are in fact a hero…THEIR HERO. Even if it's only for a few moments. They won't forget an unselfish person like you. The word can spread REAL fast about what makes you special AND how you make others feel special! Oh, and how about all those smiles that await you when you walk in the door at one of these establishments…I'll tell ya…there's nothing like being received with the subtle cheers that only these types of people can deeply express. It's something you don't get tired of. It's something you don't forget for the rest of your life. A career as a massage therapist? Yeah, it has its rewards. One person at a time.

Part Time…Full Time…Big Time

What's your preference? The massage therapy field is the antithesis of the 9 to 5 job where it usually takes a bit of time to "climb the ladder"…so to speak. Your massage dreams however, are restricted by only your pocket book and your motivation…and sometimes not even that. Interested in working part time at a hospice in addition to your current full time position as a nurse? Great. Maybe you prefer to market your services on a wider scale and provide massage services to fortune 500 companies in Silicone Valley? You marketing maven/maverick! No, that's not it! You prefer to buy a huge destination spa that's up for sale in the hills of Tuscany, Italy with a conglomerate of wealthy investors. You of course are an equal partner and yet put up no money because you will be the Chief Operations Officer. Hmmmm, not quite. You will in fact put up your share of the money and with all your free time you'll take advantage of all the great massage & bodywork treatments available to you at your beautiful resort. Yes, now that's the ticket! Big or small…you make the call.

Tons Of Opportunities

Opportunities everywhere these days for those of you considering becoming a massage therapist. Ponder the endless possibilities: private practice self employment, corporate chair massage, hospitals, chiropractic offices, professional and amateur sports teams, amusement parks, and a lot more. Oh yes, I can't leave out all the spas that desperately need your skills due to the fact that the most requested service at nearly all spas is massage treatments. Day spas, resort spas, destination spas, medical spas, anti-aging spas, and of course the ubiquitous neighborhood health spa (gym). As a massage therapist, you will also have the opportunity to “sail the seven seas”. Yes, your services are not limited to just land. “All hands on deck.” Cruise ships are employing massage therapists when and where they can find them. Be forewarned that this form of massage employment is not to be taken lightly. I suggest asking many questions of your prospective cruise ship employer as well as whether life at sea is truly something to be in your future. Look through past massage therapy magazines for an interesting peek through the port hole. Also, there are many employment status options to choose from including: self employed owner, independent contractor, company employee, and a few others. Refer to Martin Ashley's book for opportunities abound, Massage: A Career at your Fingertips (most recent edition).

No Need To Be A Harvard Graduate

It doesn't take a medical doctor, someone formally educated in kinesiology, or even an associate degree from your junior college to become a massage practitioner. I'd say the average schooling currently is about 500 hours, but can vary quite a bit. So do your due diligence and homework. As far as obtaining a business degree for the purpose of opening a small practice, I also believe this is completely unnecessary although certainly can help. With respect to running a successful massage business, I believe specific skills such as time management, marketing & advertising, as well as accounting are far more important than formal degrees. Remember, you may always choose to work for someone else as a massage therapist and leave all the day to day aspects of running a business to someone else while you continue to perfect your skills and slowly gain valuable business skills. So what's my point here? It's not necessary to be a mental giant to enjoy a career in massage therapy. Be sure to read Cherie Sohnen-Moe's book on business, listed below.

Indoor / Outdoor

It's up to you where you want to practice massage. The indoor venues are obvious, the outdoor not so obvious. If your city allows you to practice at your home, you may of course practice in your back yard, near the pool maybe if the weather is right. Consider venues like parks, swap meets / flea markets, as well as lakes & beaches. You may also consider employment at neighborhood fairs, concerts in the park, and summer amusement attractions. I believe the larger amusement parks and outdoor mall type settings are also offering massage services to their foot-tired attendees. Most of these settings are outdoor using a massage chair (massage table typically at a house). However, I am aware of some people at larger venues offering table massage and variations of it. So if your someone who really wants to get into the massage field, but doesn't want to work indoors, don't get overly concerned just yet. I suggest you get on your scooter or do some leg work in and out of town to find these niche outdoor opportunities. Also, there is always a novel idea waiting to be discovered that may present itself in the great outdoors if you put enough miles on those boots of yours.

Massage – A Necessity

People are now looking at massage as not only acceptable, but as an essential part of their life. Education is increasing daily as the good news makes it around to people that have not had the pleasure of being under the hands of an experienced, professional massage practitioner. For example, many chiropractors have seen first hand the positive benefits that a qualified massage therapist's skills can have on their clientele. As more chiropractors introduce massage therapy into their practices to the public (many use hands on massage just prior to an adjustment), the more people are continually being positively exposed to therapeutic massage while receiving spinal manipulations. These same people often express positive feelings to friends & family about their massage experience and frequently seek out massage practitioners for longer massage sessions for themselves. This is just one example how new people are being introduced to the wonderful world of massage and how even some come to feel it is an absolute essential part of their life. It's a snow ball affect that keeps the demand for your massage services on the “up-swing.”

You Call The Shots

Cherie M. Sohnen-Moe, a long time massage therapist and business consultant, believes “some of the advantages of being self-employed are having a potentially flexible schedule, being independent, being your own boss and the possibility of receiving tax advantages. Frequently you are more creative and experience increased personal satisfaction with a greater sense of achievement.” Greater sense of achievement? Yes, I can attest to that Cherie! Working the 9 to 5 I found myself in the position of following the instructions, interests and priorities of staff management and the companies they represent. If you become a professional massage therapist, I'm convinced you'll similarly come to know the sense of freedom and opportunity that I have personally experienced myself after I made the decision to take up my own torch and pursue my dreams. It's a liberating feeling knowing you are the one solely responsible and credited with all the positive that you do in the world.

The Baby-Boom Generation Has A Need For Your Skills

In Steve Capellini's popular book, Massage Therapy Career Guide: For Hands on Success. he states “ a number of factors combined to turn the 1990's into a decade of tremendous growth for massage. By far the most dramatic shift that has taken place is the aging of the baby-boom generation. The largest segment of the American population is now approaching and passing the 50 year mark, and people in this group are searching for ways to stay in shape and retain their youthful looks for as long as possible. Simultaneously, they are finding themselves with more disposable income than people of other generations. If massage therapists can successfully market their skills to this group, there is no limit to the success they might find.” Consider asking massage therapists in your area what percentage of their clientele consists of this age group. You'll be surprised.

Massage In Demand

Steve Capellini also states that “We haven't even begun to reach our full potential market for massage. By some estimates, only 10 to 15 percent of Americans have ever received a professional massage. In my opinion, we have only begun to tap the most superficial layers of a customer base that potentially includes almost half of the people in this country. This is a profession that is here to stay, and anyone who is willing to put forth enough positive energy and effort is bound to succeed.” Seriously guys n' gals, after being in practice for several years now, I can confidently state that only a very minute percentage of the American people have ever received their first massage. Their first massage therapist could be you!

Massage Therapy's Revival

Massage therapy is one of the fastest growing segments of the job market and was rated number 10 a few years back (I believe in 1999-2000) in Small Business Opportunities Magazine. Even if you were to second guess the source of this statistic, I believe it's of comfort to note that all of the massage therapy professional associations have exploded in new memberships over the last 10 years. Some of these massage associations, including The American Massage Therapy Association http://www.amtamassage.org/, The Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals http://www.abmp.com/ and The International Massage Association http://www.imagroup.com/, have grown so significantly on a percentage basis, that I would surmise they have broken many previous new membership records over the last 5 years.

Thank You Massage Associations

Much of the aforementioned growth explosion in the field of therapeutic massage is due to the diligent work of the 3 previously mentioned professional associations. It is my belief and understanding that each of these companies have played a positive role in the greatly renewed interest by the public in massage as a natural healing modality. So what does all this “mumbo jumbo” mean to you and I? Nothing but good news really. The professional associations efforts and diligent work on the part of its members (that's you and I massage therapists) to educate the media and government officials are finally paying dividends. Respect for the massage therapy profession is at an all time high if you were to look back…say over the last 50 years. Educating the general public is increasing daily.

Research Continues To Help The Massage Profession

Research by the Touch Institute in Florida headed up by now celebrity massage therapy researcher Tiffany Fields, has consistently proven to the public and the allopathic medical field alike that massage therapy *does* in fact have healing efficiency well beyond that of just relaxation. HMO members have been asking there providers like never before if they currently offer massage therapy as a paid health resource and if not, “will you please make this available as part of my health coverage.” Although it has been “slow going”, health insurance management companies understand it won't be long before their members demand that massage therapy be incorporated as a standard paid health modality. Result and benefit to prospective massage therapists? There is a slow, yet consistently growing demand for massage therapists to offer touch therapy services to patients in places such as hospitals, plastic surgery centers, rehabilitation clinics and a lot more! This slow but convincing research has enabled prospective massage therapists the opportunity to provide their skills in these forward-thinking professional establishments where once these jobs never existed.

Advanced Training Continues To Expand

Advanced training in the discipline of massage therapy and all related bodywork has never been as good as it is now. For instance, let's assume that you have offered relaxing Swedish massage as the cornerstone of your practice for a couple years. But you're feeling burned out and want something new to diversify your client practice, as well as maintain your interest in the bodywork field. Simple. Learn something new. In the massage & bodywork field that is. Seriously, there are literally hundreds of hands on modalities that you could learn to not only maintain your interest & motivation, but to keep your clients coming back for all the new techniques you have recently learned. Thai massage, Cranio-sacral, Reiki, Polarity massage, Orthopedic massage, Ashiatsu Oriental Bar massage, Rolfing…the list goes on. Some of these interesting new techniques and modalities may take you thousands of miles away to learn from the originator themselves. A kind of healing retreat where you can also be assured that you will come home with something new and fresh to practice, perfect, and make your own to share with others. Want to learn advanced stone massage skills in Hawaii? How about Indian Head massage in London, England. If there is one thing I want you to remember, it's this. You have an endless supply of healing arts to learn from in the bodywork field to maintain and increase your love and passion for people.

Low Overhead

As small a company as you see fit. Since your hands literally are your ticket to employment and future happiness, you really need not go on any equipment buying spree. As a matter of fact, most good massage suppliers in your area already have plenty of massage tables and chairs ready for your rental needs. What's an added bonus is that you'll be able to “test drive” several different equipment models first hand before making a permanent decision on a particular make and model. So really, as far as equipment is concerned for starting a massage business, this shouldn't be a big concern. I feel your biggest initial investment will be your schooling and this is contingent on your state and possibly your county. You may need to obtain schooling in an accredited facility with hourly requirements that range typically from 100 hours to 1000 hours. I believe many counties and states are on average around 500, but PLEASE check to see what the requirements in your area are before making a decision to become a massage therapist. The more schooling that's necessary, the more money you can expect to pay in tuition. Naturally, it's encouraged to arrange more schooling and continuing education as your practice continues to grow.

Massage Therapists Can Practice Anywhere

As a massage therapist, you literally can practice anywhere in the world that you find people. *Typically* the greater the populace in the location you are in, the greater the demand for your healing skills. Advantage? Where are you interested in living? Maybe a move is in your future. Even if a particular area you scouted out to move has a very low demand for massage…or quite possibly the area is so rural or remote that there literally is no demand! Simple. Let your mouth do the talking and your caring hands do the massaging. If free demonstrations are allowed by law in your area, then have at it. Free demonstrations coupled with strong communication skills and a sincerely passionate personality is the making of a great massage practice where once one didn't exist. Carve out your *niche* in the massage industry. When people see and feel your positive energy and good hearted motives, they can't help but get caught up in all your enthusiasm themselves. One major caveat here. As far as massage therapy regulatory laws, PLEASE do not plan on practicing in ANY unfamiliar city, states, or countries that you have not previously familiarized yourself with. Travel? Yeah…I can do that!

Humans Or Animals

You can conceivably apply your new therapeutic massage skills to HUMANS OR ANIMALS. Yes, you heard me right. Animals can not only be a part of your business, but it is possible to have a practice that exclusively treats animals only. Think about it. I bet you know more than a few people yourself that love their pets and see to their healthy living as if they were people. These people and their animals specifically *could* be your next client. Needless to say, bodywork practitioners that are involved in this small segment of the massage industry are typically crazy in love with being around animals and seeing to their general well being. Although any animal could conceivably be one of your clients for general health, performance enhancement, and rehabilitation, it is more common to see horses and dogs as animal “clients” receiving massage. I believe Sea World and some zoos have now started to incorporate therapeutic massage into their animal care protocols. You may want to check out The International Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork. http://www.iaamb.org/. I also predict that more veterinary hospitals will seek the skills of qualified therapists for their furry clients. Demand continues to rise.

Personal Growth Through Massage

You personally can expect emotional, spiritual and mental growth. After talking with many other massage practitioners, I think the consensus is that your personal journey through deeper levels of knowing yourself starts just as soon as your massage therapy training is secured. Believe me, you will not emerge from your massage training program as the same person that entered it. Intellectual and emotional growth is something you all can expect. But what personally caught me off guard was the 4% body fat I dropped and the subsequent increase in physical stamina. Hey, positive changes are afoot. The life enrichment gained through massage courses is really only the tip of the iceberg. Once your initial schooling concludes, the next chapter of *your* life's book opens and awaits with anticipation the direction and scope of practice of your choosing. This dream is yours.

The Pay Is Good

Income? The sky's the limit! OK, so I may be sugar coating this for some of you. You really are only limited by your own passion and drive for massage. That said, opportunities to grow your business are plentiful. If you find yourself with a full load of clients each day and are even starting to forget to take time out for your own massage and bodywork, the framework for your business expansion may already be built. We are talking about…day…after…day…after…day of “too many massage clients”. Then you just may have the makings of increasing your income, while decreasing your own client load. The possibilities are legend. You can hire employees or independent contractors to help carry the load. You may need their help also to carry all the money to the bank. Hey, it could happen… and for some very industrious people with above average networking skills…DOES happen. I believe that this is the story line that many large spas have spawned from. They started from a one person clinic and then hired on help as they effectively got the good word out about their massage services. Their humble little business grew and became a day spa, which in turn was built into a much larger resort spa. And well, you get the idea. If you can build it and market it, they'll come to it.

Adventure (as Steve Capellini would say)

I mean seriously, what other types of occupations can help you meet such a diversification of people while giving you the opportunity to take your self contained skills anywhere in the world? All walks of life champion massage therapy as a way of unwinding as well as effective pain relief. Musicians, celebrities, the terminally ill, millionaires, the impoverished, professional athletes…people from all over the world. People not only seeking you out for your therapeutic skills, but also to share their story. Yes it is very true. Not only are some of the secrets that the body has entombed revealed to you during massage, but you will also come to learn that some of your clientele may *need* to tell you about their emotional scars as well. I would guess that all of these things will be a part of your practice and further open up and expand your understanding of the human experience. A caveat. Although there can be great adventure and learning to be gained when becoming involved with massage clients that “free associate” verbally their thoughts (of any nature), it is imperative that you not engage in ANY sort of active dialogue, psychological diagnosis, or provide solutions to their problems, etc. If you are a licensed, professional counselor then this *may* be appropriate. Otherwise I suggest you practice within your scope by merely listening to your clients and concentrating on that which you are trained in, massage and bodywork. It is worth noting here, that as a therapist you may gently deter your clients from active chatter if you wish by encouraging them to concentrate on their own physical and emotional feelings through your massage. Additionally, do not forget about communication boundaries with respect to client-therapist confidentiality!

Trade Massage Amongst Other Therapists

Trading massages. Can there really be a better way to spend your day? Unfortunately we can't do this all day, every day because somewhere along the line we need to pay off that new moped we bought for fun in the Philippines. Sorry, I got side-tracked. Trading massages with other massage practitioners. Ah yes. For some therapists, this is an absolute essential in their life…possibly even a must. Often many of your massage training colleagues will desire to set up standing appointments with each other for practice purposes while in school. This therapeutic relationship often extends well beyond the walls of massage school and has a tendency to carry over in later years amongst massage therapists. Many practitioners will without hesitation credit trading massage sessions with other therapists as the cornerstone to their healthy life style & successful massage practice. If circumstances deter you from creating these types of relationships while at massage school, I whole heartedly encourage you to either find a love one willing to learn from and practice with you, or regularly spend some of your hard earned money on well deserved massages.

Become A Massage Therapist At Any Age

Massage therapists are not limited by age. Ain't that a fact! Travel around the world and you will see exactly what I mean. In some parts of Asia, you find younger children preparing themselves for a life long endeavor in the healing discipline of Thai massage, Shiatsu, Reiki, and others. You will commonly see new massage students that are 65 years old and older in the US, just as “wide eyed and bushy tailed” to learn as the 18 year olds fresh from high school training along side them. Young…old…skinny…obese…black…white…you name it. If you look hard enough, you may even find a massage school that supports and encourages blind students to learn massage as well as other handicaps. If you can not find an appropriate massage training facility here in the U.S.A., “let not your heart be troubled” and search internationally.

Massage Is A Skill That Can Be Bartered

Bartering your massage skills. Yes, this is something to keep in mind particularly while starting a private practice if you choose the self employment route. Sometimes money can be a little tight when financing your dreams. Vendors that sell supplies you require may be positively open to your idea of trading their supplies and equipment for your massage service skills. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of professional barter associations that can be found on the web to support your needs. Just be certain that you feel the goods you have received are an equitable barter exchange for the services you deliver.

Chair Massage Or Table Massage

The choice is all yours. Actually I'll back up because you may not even be aware that receiving massage in a specially designed chair suitable to manual therapy is even available. Well it is, and there are many therapists that provide massage services to clients using *only* this particular piece of equipment. You'll frequently find this type of massage service being administered at companies with indoor facilities. I've personally offered chair massage to employees of large, well known companies as well as lesser known companies that only require massage for a handful of people. By no means is chair massage limited to companies with indoor office space. Usually when massage is requested at an outdoor venue, it's typical that the request is for a massage therapist that knows how to use a massage chair and has acquired the necessary skills to do so. http://www.touchpro.org/ is a phenomenal place to start your research on chair massage as well as receive training in proficiency. Still, more people are familiar with and continue to request the ole standard, table massage. For this reason, there are still many more table massage therapists than chair massage therapists simply do to public demand. Naturally, you may train, become proficient in, and offer both of these services as part of your practice emphasis.

Occupational & Sports Injuries Have Increased Demand

A consistent rise in sporting and occupational injuries has further fueled the demand for massage therapists. This can not be understated. Employees acquiring cumulative trauma disorders (also called repetitive strain disorders) have been on the rise over the last 10 to 15 years in the American work force. We use our bodies in new and unnatural ways to navigate around a computer and all its peripherals that did not exist 15 years ago. Additionally, the rise in sports injuries of all kinds have also created an explosive need for massage therapists who have trained in bodywork techniques that assist chiropractors, naturopaths, and medical doctors rehabilitate their clients faster. The trend towards massage therapists to be a part of rehabilitation teams (including plastic surgery as well as all other surgeries) continues to gain acceptance, which furthers the demand for well trained massage therapists.

A New Experience Everyday

Every day is a new journey. If you really concentrate on your clients as you massage them, I think you'll come to agree with me that each day brings something new and challenging. It could be a new client, maybe a new understanding of an old muscular injury, or possibly even something deeper you learn about yourself or your own past. Possibly something spiritual…or perhaps a new understanding of your own innate energetic abilities that lie latent, patiently waiting for your own discovery. Surely, with each client introduction and the beautiful massage that follows, you'll have the opportunity to unravel life from a new perspective through the eyes & ears of each one of those souls that has the good fortune to lie on your massage table. It's an honorable pursuit to offer hands that heal and is quite an experience to *literally*grasp one's electromagnetic body, heart and soul in the palm of your own hand. To be a massage therapist, is not just to be one with love & purpose, but to be one with the spirit of adventure and open to all of life's challenges that come with it.

Direct Touch Is Not Necessary

Massage therapists need not even touch their clients. Don't search for your bifocals, you read that right. “Energy work” is the general phrase used by practitioners that utilize their own subtle energy through their bodies to affect the electromagnetic fields (energy) of their clients. While some of these massage & bodywork techniques do in fact use extremely light touch, others only bring the hands close to the person that they want to affect. Therapeutic Touch (TT) by D. Krieger is one such type of energy technique that effectively alters the complex and dynamic energy field that surrounds the human body. Polarity energy work by Dr. Randolph Stone focuses on energy currents within the body through the practitioners hands in an effort to balance the electromagnetic currents and unite the body's emotions, mind, soul and physical body. These massage styles are techniques that you may look into that don't necessarily require the practitioner to touch the client. If you feel you are an intuitive person that feels much more than thinks, you may have an interest in energy styles of massage. There are many to choose from.

You Need Not Use Your Hands

A Massage therapist doesn't necessarily have to use her hands. Not only is it a nice alternative to know we can obtain training in modalities that specialize in the use of other body parts as well as objects, it sometimes becomes our only means of servicing our clients. What do I mean? If after awhile you have been in business for a few years and your hands become over stressed through heavy massage use and infrequent rest, reassure yourself that there are other ways to service your clientele. Since skiing and hiking accidents do occur with massage therapists as frequently as anyone else, hold on to a few of these websites if you ever find your hands just can't get the job done. Hey, the show must go on, right? Pop over to http://www.deepfeet.com/ and learn about an interesting woman and her technique that utilizes the massage practitioners feet as a means of administering massage. The technique is called Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy and has become very popular since its inception. Not to be outdone, Mary Nelson's Lastone Therapy http://www.lastonetherapy.com/ using hot and cold stones has become a big hit with therapists wanting to offer massage with something other than their hands. Spas around the country and internationally have begun to offer stone massage treatments to the oohhhs and aaahhhhhs of many clients. In fact, in some spas this is the most requested bodywork treatment on the menu. There are many more massage variations like these awaiting your discovery.

You Are Important In Times Of Crisis

It's very comforting to know that as a massage therapist you possess skills in time of disaster and humanitarian crisis. For instance, read up on the incredible impact that massage therapists had after the twin towers fell. There are some real inspiring stories that emerged from this crisis and it warms my heart to know that massage therapists were there on the scene and “ready to roll” in time of great national crisis. If you are interested in being a part of an emergency massage team in your area, surf over to http://www.amtamassage.org/. Steve Capellini discusses this in his book in a little more detail if you're interested. It's good to know that through massage you're making a positive impact in the world one person at a time.

Earn While You Learn

If you look hard enough, you can probably find massage schools in your area that offer earn while you learn programs. For those of you that are concerned that you may have to take a serious pay cut to enter a massage program and stick with it, this may be for you. This scenario commonly offers students the opportunity to make extra cash in the schools onsite massage clinic which is ran exclusively by the students themselves. Now this is not something that you are going to get rich doing. The student clinic's massage services are typically offered to the public at a significantly reduced price. The reasoning is obvious here. What may not be so obvious is that a prospective massage therapist that is concerned about income must understand that school instructors usually wait for their students to have learned and become proficient in the basic massage moves before turning you loose in the school's student clinic. But don't loose heart if this sounds like something that can make or break your career decision. Call around to massage schools and see if they can suggest some creative ways to make your tuition more feasible. Tip: Although I recommend someone interested in becoming a massage therapist receive 4 massages from 4 different people to determine if it may be something they are more interested in, I firmly believe participating in a massage school's student clinic will be of greater value in conclusively determining whether massage is without question a career perfect for you.

Massage Practices Are Available For Sale

The opportunity to buy an existing practice and dive right in after you finish your schooling is a viable option. Now, this isn't something I would do myself. However, if you believe you have the necessary management skills and proficiency in massage therapy, you'll probably find a handful of practitioners throughout the country at any given time who are waiting to sell their massage businesses to those interested. This is just something I wanted to mention to those of you who know they have the “healing touch” and desire to be self employed, but are petrified of the thought of marketing their services and selling themselves. Buying an existing, established practice may be an option you want to pursue now or in your massage career future.

Massage Can Come Natural…Massage Can Be Learned

If you're not someone born with the healing touch, no problem. Good massage schools can level the playing field by taking quality time and care in teaching all the essentials you'll need. If you still feel like your “all thumbs” and less than confident to show the world what you got, consider taking advanced classes. However, in my own career, I have seen the greatest degrees of improvement in my skills when I learn something completely new. Say, for instance an entirely new technique such as shiatsu. Whereas before I was only practicing Polarity and Swedish massage. My skills grow exponentially when I endeavor to learn something new from scratch that I had no previous knowledge of. This is completely different than attempting to learn and relearn through advanced classes something you already know the fundamentals of. Moral of the story here? Consider learning a completely new technique if you feel less than prepared to offer your skills to the public on a professional basis. As a massage therapist, you have an opportunity to learn from dozens of different massage modalities.

The Field Of Massage Therapy Is Still Open To Improvements

Still plenty of room in the massage field to make a name for yourself. Your name in lights! Not for you? No problem. If you're simply interested in maintaining a small practice in your “neck of the woods”, that's more than possible in this industry. And if you think you have something special to offer the filed of massage, we'll call it a “niche”, I think you will be pleasantly surprised to find the door completely open. As a matter of fact, there are always new techniques cropping up to be learned from the originators. You may yourself be one of these very originators, traveling the country offering seminars & workshops on your latest massage techniques. New massage music? That's a constant in this industry…and one few of us grow tired of. Maybe you are a singer and want to carve out your niche offering beautiful music appropriate for the massage industry? Have a mechanical or engineering background? After being apart of the massage therapy field for several years you may gain valuable insight to help produce an effective means of chakra balancing or (fill in the blank). Maybe through the use of this elaborate chakra light & color equipment you engineered, your able to market your device to spas around the world. Hey, it could happen. Ok, not the best of examples, but I believe you get “my drift.” It is not necessary to *do* massage, to actually make a living in the massage field.

Massage Is Both Art & Science

I believe this statement is self explanatory. If you are someone who is more accepting of science and look at the world from a rational, logistical perspective, you may be comforted to hear that with each year new studies are being published that clearly show the effectiveness of massage therapy. Additionally, you can find many massage schools that will teach therapeutic massage from a Western / medical perspective (allopathic emphasis). Specifically, the teachings will center more on the tissues of the body and brain as opposed to the art and energy aspects of massage. On the other hand, you will find a myriad of massage schools that teach massage as a form of art, and therefore should be taught and practiced as such. With energy massage, there is a greater interest and emphasis on the body as a source of electricity, magnetic force and charkas. Reiki, Qigong, Polarity, and many other interesting and equally effective modalities are examples. You'll find many of these energy techniques are taught and practiced in Asia as *part* of the peoples philosophy and way of life there. As for the massage modalities that are practiced from a scientific basis, you'll find many of these massage styles in the West.


Your career literally is in your hands…if you so choose. Likewise, so is the decision for YOU to make. I purposefully have left out my list of disadvantages with respect to entering the massage field as a therapist. I didn't do this simply to “paint a rosy picture”. To be honest, my writings which are several years old now are a bit messy as well as outdated. That said, I still encourage you to read all 3 of the books I have listed here before you make a decision. Although it took an investment in time and introspection, these 3 books are in part responsible for helping me calculate many of the advantages and disadvantages of practicing massage BEFORE I actually paid my massage school tuition.
Practicing massage recreationally as I did in the Philippines on friends & family is vastly different that offering services on a professional basis here in the states. Even if you are not in this boat, I continue to suggest to people interested in becoming a massage therapist to not only read these three great books, but to also receive *several* different styles of massage treatments…from several different types of practitioners. If and when feasible, I also recommend varying the venue that you receive your massage sessions from. A treatment from a popular spa to start is great. Then possibly a small clinic specializing in massage. Then a great finish in your introspective decision making would be to book several different styles of massage & bodywork from private practitioners that are highly skilled and experienced in their discipline. This is truly where you will meet & feel massage. Good Luck!

Capellini, Steve. 1999. Massage Therapy Career Guide for Hands-On Success. Albany: Milady SalonOvations Publishing.

Ashley, Martin. 1999. Massage: A Career at Your Fingertips, 3rd Ed. Carmel: Enterprise Publishing.

Sohnen- Moe, Cherie. 1997. Business Mastery: A Guide for Creating a Fulfilling, Thriving Business and Keeping it Successful, 3rd Ed. Tucson: Sohnen-Moe Associates.

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