1 Massage Therapy Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement In 2009, 42 States and the District of Columbia had laws regulating massage therapy in some way. Most of the boards governing massage therapy in these States require practicing massage therapists to complete a formal education program and pass an examination. As of 2009, States without licensure requirements were Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Wyoming. In these States, massage therapy may be regulated at the local level. Because laws often change, it is best to check information on licensing, certification, and accreditation on a State-by-State basis. Education and training. Training standards and requirements for massage therapists vary greatly by State and locality. Education programs are typically found in private or public postsecondary institutions and can require 500 hours of study or more to complete. A high school diploma or equivalent degree is usually required for admission. Massage therapy programs generally cover subjects such as anatomy; physiology, the study of organs and tissues; kinesiology, the study of motion and body mechanics; business management; ethics; and the hands-on practice of massage techniques. Training programs may concentrate on certain modalities of massage. Several programs also provide alumni services such as post-graduate job placement and continuing educational services. Both full-time and part-time programs are available. Massage therapy programs vary in accreditation. Generally, they are approved by a State board, and they also may be accredited by an independent accrediting agency. In States that regulate massage therapy, graduation from an approved school or training program usually is required in order to practice. Some State regulations require that therapists keep up on their knowledge and technique through continuing education. Licensure. In States with massage therapy regulations, workers must obtain a license after graduating from a training program and prior to practicing massage. Passage of an examination is usually required for licensure. The examination may be solely a State exam or one of two nationally recognized tests: the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB) and the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). Massage therapy licensure boards decide which certifications and tests to accept on a State-by-State basis. Therefore, those wishing to practice massage therapy should look into legal requirements for the State and locality in which they intend to practice. A fee and periodic renewal of licensure also may be required. Other qualifications. Strong communication skills and a friendly, empathetic personality are extremely helpful qualities for fostering a trusting relationship with clients and, in turn, expanding one's client base. Massage can be a delicate issue for some clients, and because of this, making clients feel comfortable is one of the most important skills for massage therapists. Advancement. Because of the nature of massage therapy, opportunities for advancement are limited. However, with increased experience and an expanding client base, there are opportunities for therapists to increase client fees and, therefore, income. Therapists also may become managers of the office in which they work and may teach in a training program. In addition, those who are well organized and have an entrepreneurial spirit may go into business for themselves. Self-employed massage therapists with a large client base have the highest earnings.
2 Employment Massage therapists held about 122,400 jobs in About 57 percent were self-employed. Many more people practice massage therapy as a secondary source of income. Of those who were self-employed, most owned their own businesses or worked as independent contractors. Others found employment in personal care services establishments, the offices of physicians and chiropractors, fitness and recreational sports centers and hotels. Although massage therapists can find jobs throughout the country, employment is concentrated in metropolitan areas, as well as resort and destination locales. Job Outlook Employment of massage therapists is expected to grow faster than average. Opportunities should be available to those who complete formal training programs and pass a professionally recognized examination, but new massage therapists should expect to work only part time until they can build a client base of their own. Employment change. Employment of massage therapists is expected to increase by 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment will grow as more people learn about the benefits of massage therapy. Continued growth in the demand for massage services will lead to new openings for massage therapists. The number of spas, which employ a large number of therapists, has increased in recent years and will continue to do so. At the same time, there are an increasing number of massage clinic franchises, many of which offer massages cheaper than at spas and resorts, making them available to a wider range of customers. In addition, as an increasing number of States adopt licensing requirements and standards for therapists, the practice of massage is likely to be respected and accepted by more and more people. Massage also offers specific benefits to particular groups of people, whose continued demand for massage services will lead to overall growth for the occupation. For example, as workplaces try to distinguish themselves as employee-friendly, providing professional in-office, seated massages for employees is becoming a popular on-the-job benefit. Older citizens in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities also are finding benefits from massage, such as increased energy levels and reduced health problems. Demand for massage therapy should grow among older age groups because they increasingly are enjoying longer, more active lives and persons aged 55 years and older are projected to be the most rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population over the next decade. However, demand for massage therapy is presently greatest among young adults, who lack the concerns about massage that previous generations had. Job prospects. In States that regulate massage therapy, opportunities should be available to those who complete formal training programs and pass a professionally recognized examination. However, new massage therapists should expect to work only part time in spas, hotels, hospitals, physical therapy centers, and other businesses until they can build a client base of their own. Because referrals are a very important source of work for massage therapists, networking will increase the number of job opportunities. Joining a professional association also can help build strong contacts and further increase the likelihood of steady work.
3 Projections Data Projections data from the National Employment Matrix Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2008 Projected Employment, 2018 Number Change, Percent Detailed Statistics Massage therapists , ,600 23, [PDF] [XLS] NOTE: Data in this table are rounded. See the discussion of the employment projections table in the Handbook introductory chapter on Occupational Information Included in the Handbook. Earnings Median hourly wages of massage therapists, including gratuities, were $16.78 in May The middle 50 percent earned between $11.36 and $ The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.01, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $ Because many therapists work part time, yearly earnings can vary considerably, depending on the therapist s schedule. Generally, massage therapists earn some portion of their income as gratuities. For those who work in a hospital or other clinical setting, however, tipping is not common. As is typical for most workers who are self-employed and work part time, few benefits are provided. Summary Report for: Massage Therapists Massage customers for hygienic or remedial purposes. Sample of reported job titles: Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Massage Therapist (CMT), Licensed Massage Practitioner, Registered Massage Therapist, Bodywork Therapist, Integrated Deep Tissue Massage Therapist, Therapeutic Massage Technician Tasks Confer with clients about their medical histories and problems with stress or pain to determine how massage will be most helpful. Apply finger and hand pressure to specific points of the body. Massage and knead muscles and soft tissues of the body to provide treatment for medical conditions, injuries, or wellness maintenance. Maintain treatment records. Provide clients with guidance and information about techniques for postural improvement and stretching, strengthening, relaxation, and rehabilitative exercises. Assess clients' soft tissue condition, joint quality and function, muscle strength, and range of motion. Develop and propose client treatment plans that specify which types of massage are to be used. Refer clients to other types of therapists when necessary. Use complementary aids, such as infrared lamps, wet compresses, ice, and whirlpool baths to promote clients' recovery, relaxation, and well-being. Treat clients in professional settings or travel to clients' offices and homes.
4 Tools & Technology Tools used in this occupation: Electric vibrators for rehabilitation or therapy Mechanical vibrating massage devices Full body immersion hydrotherapy baths or tanks Hydrotherapy equipment Mats or platforms for rehabilitation or therapy Massage chairs; Massage stools; Portable massage tables; Treatment tables Medical heat lamps or accessories Heat lamps Therapeutic heating or cooling pads or compresses or packs Cold packs; Hot packs; Massage stone sets Therapeutic heating or cooling units or systems Steam cabinets Technology used in this occupation: Calendar and scheduling software AppointmentQuest Online Appointment Manager; Scheduling software Medical software ICS Software SammyUSA; Island Software Massage Office Professional; Massage Suite; WinCity Custom Software WinCity Massage SOAP Notes Spreadsheet software Microsoft Excel Word processing software Microsoft Word Knowledge Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction. Therapy and Counseling Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance. English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar. Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders. Skills Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times. Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively. Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people. Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems. Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do. Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one. Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
5 Abilities Oral Comprehension The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences. Multilimb Coordination The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion. Oral Expression The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand. Arm-Hand Steadiness The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position. Dynamic Strength The ability to exert muscle force repeatedly or continuously over time. This involves muscular endurance and resistance to muscle fatigue. Manual Dexterity The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects. Trunk Strength The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing. Problem Sensitivity The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem. Speech Clarity The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you. Speech Recognition The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person. Work Activities Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests. Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients. Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials. Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things. Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time. Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources. Training and Teaching Others Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others. Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form. Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems. Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
6 Work Context Contact With Others How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it? Face-to-Face Discussions How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job? Freedom to Make Decisions How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer? Indoors, Environmentally Controlled How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions? Structured versus Unstructured Work To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals? Work With Work Group or Team How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job? Physical Proximity To what extent does this job require the worker to perform job tasks in close physical proximity to other people? Importance of Being Exact or Accurate How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job? Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls How much does this job require using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls? Frequency of Decision Making How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization? Job Zone Title Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed Education Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree. Related Experience Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job. Job Training Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations. Job Zone Examples These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include food service managers, electricians, agricultural technicians, legal secretaries, interviewers, and insurance sales agents. SVP Range (6.0 to < 7.0) Interests Interest code: SR Social Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others. Realistic Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
7 Work Styles Dependability Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations. Concern for Others Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job. Independence Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done. Integrity Job requires being honest and ethical. Cooperation Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude. Self Control Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations. Attention to Detail Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks. Initiative Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges. Adaptability/Flexibility Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace. Achievement/Effort Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks. Work Values Relationships Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service. Independence Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy. Achievement Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement. Wages & Employment Trends National Median wages (2009) $16.94 hourly, $35,230 annual Employment (2008) 122,000 employees Projected growth ( ) Faster than average (14% to 19%) Projected job openings ( ) 39,500