As with any profession, starting salaries for massage therapy often depend on the location the therapist lives, where the therapist chooses to practice (spa, private practice, clinical office), and how many hours the therapist will be working per week.
As the popularity of massage grows, so do the people who choose it for a full-time professional career. Some even choose it as a second, part-time career for weekend or evening work.
No matter how many hours per week a therapist chooses to practice massage, most all therapists will say they love their work. If given the time and physical ability, most would say they would work many more hours through the week, if it was an option.
In the United States, starting salaries for massage therapy range from $14,000-$58,000, depending on where and how often the therapist works.
In addition to hourly charges, the therapist may also make significant money in massage tips. Some therapists make an additional $5-$20 per hour with gratuities.
High end spas are often where you see the highest massage tips in the industry, as tipping is often discussed and encouraged with clients in a spa or health club setting.
What you don't know!
1) In massage therapy, as in most careers, experience rules! In other words, the more types of massage they know, the more high paying careers they have! If your therapist has years of experience, knows lots of techniques, and is in private practice, expect to pay more.
2) Demand vs. supply matters! If you have 40 massage therapist in a 40 mile radius, starting salaries for massage therapy will not be as much as if you had one therapist in a 40 mile radius. The exception here is very remote, unpopulated, or poor areas.
3) Massage therapists are considered health care providers, at least in many states. Therefore, they pay a large payment each year for insurance, license renewal, and business license fees. They are also considered self-employed, which means they pay a self-employment taxes, which is quite hefty!
Therapists must learn tax tips to prepare throughout the year for yearly tax preparation expenses, as well. Knowing what paperwork and documentation to save and how to keep it organized, can make those once a year payments easier.
4) Massage therapy supplies are not cheap. Just one gallon of massage oil can cost around $50, and that's for the less expensive stuff. Good quality oils, creams and lotions are costly, and most therapists want the best for their clients.
5) Rental fees are steep. A massage therapist may pay out hundreds per month to rent space in a salon, spa, or other private practice office. In addition, they may be helping to pay for additional insurance, advertising, laundry services, maintenance fees, utilities, and cleaning services.
Salaries for instructors, spa managers/owners, & school owners
Just as a massage therapist salary depends on where they work and live, the salaries for educators also differ due to location, size of business, experience, etc. Teachers at larger schools tend to have high paying careers and school or spa owners tend to make higher salaries than their employees (teachers, spa managers, etc).
How can therapists make the most money in massage therapy?
Network, Network, and Network some more!
No matter what avenue a therapist chooses in massage, networking
with other therapists, spa owners, educators, and schools is a must for
the future. Those who have high paying careers are often networking via social media and face-to-face meetings.
However, an experienced massage therapist salary is typically higher if they own their own practice and employ others. Once a therapist builds a clientele and gains experience in the field, they usually opt for building their own business or opening a spa.
Most massage therapists work as independent contractors or as part-time personnel. Because the work is so physically demanding, many therapists may only work 15 - 20 hours per week, which greatly effects starting salaries for massage therapy, but might prolong their career.
Learning about how to build a profitable massage practice is detailed in this book, Massage Therapy Career Guide . It offers guidance on what it takes to become a massage therapist and what the work entails. It's filled with ideas for starting and maintaining a successful massage practice.
Massage therapy truly offers benefits that go far beyond the prices we pay.
Offering relaxation and peace to a busy world, massage therapists really deserve the money we pay them.
Fatigue, anxiety, and stress cause people to experience health issues like never before in history, and a massage therapist salary could never be high enough to repay the ability to release that stress and worry.
So, the demand for massage services will be a part of our society for years to come, and the starting salaries for massage therapy will most likely, increase with the demand.