Different types of massage therapy careers have emerged over the past 20 years. Overall, within the massage profession, there has been an increase in jobs of around 3 percent over the last two years, however, a 20% increase in massage therapist jobs are expected over the next decade.
In February, 2009, there were over 288,500 massage therapists in the United States alone.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapist jobs accounted for around 122,400 of all jobs open in 2008.
Approximately, 55-60 percent of those were self-employed. Many practitioners have massage therapy careers as a second income, also.
Massage therapist jobs are expected to grow faster than average over the next 10-12 years. So, opportunities for those who complete massage training, and pass the professionally recognized examination, will likely have a great career outlook.
Massage careers are expected to increase by 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for therapists is projected to grow as more people learn about massage therapy benefits.
But, if you have several massage therapists in the same community that you want to work, you might want to search other areas to potentially practice and/or start your business.
Consider these steps as you begin to prepare for a massage career:
Choose Your Massage School Very Carefully
Massage schools either have a good reputation of teaching students the education, technique, and business skills needed to begin practicing massage...or not. Usually, for those spas, physicians, chiropractors and other businesses, who normally hire therapists right after massage school, that reputation is very well known.
The starting salaries for massage therapy professionals will often be higher if you have attended a school that is known to teach students well.
You will also want to consider the types of massage schools you must choose from. You may attend traditional massage school, online massage school or community college in order to have a degree in massage therapy.
Choosing a good massage school, is a very important decision. Be sure to read my "Massage School Tips" page before you choose your school.
Facts about a Massage Therapy Career
Know Demand vs. Supply in Your Area
Good massage therapists are in demand, even in our crazy economy. With it's decline over the past 4-5 years, people are very stressed and worried about jobs and money, which often leads them to seek massage.
However, if you have too many massage therapists in your community, and the supply of service providers is high, it may be very hard to actually make a living in this field.
Learning a massage therapy niche will help you stand out from the rest. These services will usually allow a practitioner opportunity to grow a specialized practice for a certain population group.
Consider taking specialized CE classes through webinar if you do not want to take the time away from your practice to learn new types of massage therapy.
Have a Business Plan
New massage therapists should expect to work only part time until they can build clientele of their own. But, after a few years, a full-time massage therapy career (around 22 -27 hours per week) is possible, if self-care is practiced.
However, plan your future carefully. Have a massage therapy business plan that outlines what you want out of your business career. Outline how you will be prepared for specific "bumps" in the road, like illness or an office fire/natural disaster.
Massage Therapist Jobs
Anymore, there are so many different types of massage therapy jobs to choose from, you really have to stay connected to other therapists via social media groups to find the newest techniques and products available.
Spa jobs are often the first job a therapist will have, and if the spa pays well and the spa continues to grow, the therapist may choose to spend their entire career in the spa business. Eventually, many therapists choose to open a spa of their own.
Private practice is often the business of choice for most practitioners, however, many who have a private practice also work in a spa or salon on a part-time basis, at least for a few years.
Salaries for Experienced Massage Therapists
On average, experienced massage therapist's salaries or wages are approximately $24-$39 dollars per hour, out of the $65-$75 per hour charge at the salon or spa.
Private practice owners can usually make a higher salary, but it often takes several years to build your clientele to a point that you can afford to be on your own.
In addition, gratuities averaged $9-$10 per hour at the salon or spa, compared to only $6-$8 gratuity at a private practice.
The rate of pay for massage therapist jobs and services in general may not be steadily increasing, as it was 4-5 years ago, but specialized, advanced, massage services are still in very high demand and can often produce high paying careers in massage.
Practitioners will often work an average of 10-20 hours per week, with an additional 1-2 hours of "building the business" related activities.
Find Your "Niche"
There are many websites and books that teach practitioners how to make a great massage therapist salary, however, I recommend extensive studies in a specialized "niche" or modality of massage therapy.
If you are happy and confident about the work you do, and have more knowledge on your "niche" than any of the other therapists around you, you will make much more money in the long run.
Other Benefits of Being a Massage Therapist
Offering a healing touch could mean offering relaxation, therapeutic stress relief or much needed deep tissue work. But, it might also mean an offering of a quiet, calm place to just be or a non-judgmental listening ear.
Massage therapy careers allow massage practitioners the opportunity to help someone heal, both physically and mentally, without giving advice or saying much at all.
What used to be considered only a luxury, is now being practiced in many medical settings around the world.
This book, Massage Career Guide for Hands-On Success by Steve Capellini, provides great info for those considering a massage therapy career. It includes tips on how to become a massage therapist, what the profession is all about, as well as great ideas for building high paying careers.
It also teaches massage therapy benefits for pain syndromes and medical conditions like chronic back pain, Fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, or tmj is very important for massage therapists.
For whatever reasons you are considering a massage therapy career, may you find the peace that comes with knowing you provide more than just a time of relaxation; you provide a genuine, healing touch.