9 Massage Therapy Careers
(and 5 Tips for Big Success)

Massage therapy careers have emerged in the job market over the past 20 years at an enormous rate. With an estimated 20% increase in massage jobs anticipated over the next decade, traditional four-year college educations are being re-considered.

As of January 2019, it is estimated that the United States is home to over 390,000 licensed, certified, or registered massage therapy professionals, with over 26,000 students in school to learn to become a massage therapist.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapist jobs accounted for around 132,400 of all jobs open in 2012. Approximately, 55-60 percent of those were self-employed massage therapists. Many practitioners have massage therapy careers as a second income as well.

Massage therapist jobs are expected to grow 23% faster than most average jobs 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

Massage careers are expected to increase from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for most all occupations. The demand for therapists is projected to grow as more people learn about massage therapy benefits for overall health and well-being.

But, if you have several massage therapists in the same community that you are interested in working, you might want to search other areas to potentially practice and/or start your business.

9 Awesome Massage Therapy Careers

  1. Spa Franchise or Private Practice - on average pay $20.00 an hour working for a franchise company (after taxes and including tips) vs $60 - $80 per hour for private practice massage therapy services
  2. Doctors Office, Rehab Center, Wellness Center, Day Spa or Hospital - 55% of Doctors recommend Massage Therapy to their patients, 42% of physical therapists recommend massage services
  3. Mobile Massage Services - offered in the comfort of home, office, retreat center, or convention center settings
  4. Teach Continuing Education- Massage therapy continuing education is a great career, and allows the therapist to travel and teach uniques classes all over the world
  5. Social Media Manager- Therapists who are social media savvy can charge on average of $200 per month for promoting specialty massage services like pregnancy massage, or mobile massage or any other massage services to help therapists or spas grow their businesses on various social media platforms
  6. College Instructor - many students choose to learn massage therapy in a college classroom setting, in order to have college credits, in order to further their education after getting a massage license, so teachers in colleges are massage therapy careers for therapists
  7. Sports Massage Therapy - teach or work in a sports massage therapy school, a perfect fit if you live in a sports team town!
  8. Massage School Owner  - If you love the idea of teaching, and if you have a passion for massage therapy, this may be the best career path for you
  9. Spa Owner  - If you love a spa atmosphere, and have good business skills, this massage career may be best 

Massage Therapists see an average of 20-42 clients per month, and if they follow good self care, can practice with this many clients for many years.

Tips for choosing massage therapy careers

1. Know Demand vs. Supply in Your Area

Good massage therapists are in demand, even in our crazy economy. With it's decline and then surge 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 specialty will help you stand out from the rest. Massage therapy CEU's are a great way to learn new and trendy techniques that will help you make more money. 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. Those who have life-long massage therapy careers have specialty services that they provide, maybe something few others offer.

Massage therapy videos are also a great way to learn new and in-demand techniques.

2. Choose Your Massage School Very Carefully

Massage schools either have a good reputation of teaching students the education, techniques, 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 provide students a great education.

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 for your massage therapy career, so ask lots of questions and choose wisely!

3. Learn about Different Massage 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 type of 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. Learn about interview questions asked in a spa job interview.

Private practice is 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.

4. 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 therapists and spa services are steadily increasing, and specialized, advanced massage techniques are still in very high demand, which can often produce high paying massage therapy careers.

However, there are many expenses involved with running a private practice that therapists who work elsewhere do not have to pay.

Many therapists have clients sign up for email mailing lists.  Then, therapists send out email notices (or social media notices) about specials, or last minute openings, and the discounts can be steep or not. Sometimes, just knowing it is a discount can make clients schedule an appointment.

Keep in mind...

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, clients should 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 malpractice insurance, license renewal, and business license fees. They are also considered self-employed, which means they pay 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  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.

Making the Highest Salary

No matter what career 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 10 - 12 hours per week, which greatly effects starting salaries for massage therapy, but might prolong their career.

Practitioners will often work an average of 10-20 hours per week, with an additional 1-2 hours of "building the business" related activities.

5. Find Your "Niche"

There are many home-study continuing education classes, 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.

6. Create and Follow Your 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, full-time massage therapy careers (around 22 -27 hours per week) are 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.

Learn more about Massage Marketing, and growing your business via social media.

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 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. From cancer centers to rehab centers to hospice centers, you can now find massage therapist in variety of clinical settings.

For whatever reasons you are considering one of these massage therapy careers, may you find the peace that comes with knowing you provide more than just a time of relaxation; you provide a genuine, healing touch.

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