Massage Therapists: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Education requirements for massage therapists vary greatly by state or locality. Education programs are typically found in private or public postsecondary institutions. Most programs require at least 500 hours of study for their completion; some programs require 1,000 or more hours.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 24% (Much faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
In 2016, 45 states and the District of Columbia regulated massage therapy. Although not all states license massage therapy, they may have regulations at the local level.
Median pay: How much do Massage Therapists make?
$39,860 Annual Salary
$19.17 per hour

Massage therapists treat clients by using touch to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. With their touch, therapists relieve pain, help heal injuries, improve circulation, relieve stress, increase relaxation, and aid in the general wellness of clients.

What do Massage Therapists do?

Massage therapists typically do the following:

  • Talk with clients about their symptoms, medical history, and desired results
  • Evaluate clients to locate painful or tense areas of the body
  • Manipulate muscles and other soft tissues of the body
  • Provide clients with guidance on stretching, strengthening, overall relaxation, and how to improve their posture
  • Document clients conditions and progress

Massage therapists use touch to treat clients injuries and to promote the clients general wellness. They use their hands, fingers, forearms, elbows, and sometimes feet to knead muscles and soft tissues of the body.

Massage therapists may use lotions and oils, and massage tables or chairs, when treating a client. A massage can be as short as 510 minutes or could last more than an hour.

Massage therapists talk with clients about what they hope to achieve through massage. They may suggest personalized treatment plans for their clients, including information about additional relaxation techniques to practice between sessions.

Massage therapists can specialize in many different types of massage or modalities. Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, and sports massage are just a few of the many modalities of massage therapy. Most massage therapists specialize in several modalities, which require different techniques.

The type of massage given typically depends on the clients needs and physical condition. For example, massage therapists may use a special technique for elderly clients that they would not use for athletes. Some forms of massage are given solely to one type of client; for example, prenatal massage is given only to pregnant women.

Careers for Massage Therapists

  • Bodywork professionals
  • Certified massage practitioners
  • Certified massage therapists
  • Deep tissue massage therapists
  • Licensed massage practitioners
  • Licensed massage therapists
  • Masseurs
  • Masseuses
  • Massotherapists
  • Registered massage practitioners
  • Registered massage therapists
  • Rolfers
  • Swedish masseuses

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