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If you have arrived at this article, you have an interest in becoming a professional massage therapist. We applaud you! The career you are considering can be rewarding on a of levels: You can make money while helping people ease stress, pain and other conditions in a way that is natural and drug-free. As a provider of holistic health care, you will contribute to the well-being of humanity by offering the gift of your positive touch to the world. By becoming a massage therapist you will have the opportunity to help make people feel better, naturally. You might be wondering how you go about becoming a professional massage therapist.
MASSAGE Magazine has put together this comprehensive guide to answer all your questions and get your prepared to begin your journey through massage therapy school. Specific techniques vary widely depending on the massage type, or modality, practiced; the most common technique, known as Swedish massage, involves combinations of these basic movements:. Swedish massage can also be called classic massage—and despite its name, it did not originate in Sweden. Classic, or Swedish, massage is the type of massage most people think of when the term massage therapy is mentioned, and most massage therapy schools teach it as their primary modality.
However, many other modalities exist that schools may or may not touch on, including such techniques as prenatal massage, sports massage, craniosacral therapy, myofascial release, pediatric and infant massage and many others. Further, Asian bodywork is considered its own body of knowledge and has schools and certifications dedicated exclusively to its techniques.
Professionals who practice massage therapy are most properly referred to as massage therapists. You may hear the terms masseuse or masseur used to denote female or male massage practitioners, but these words carry negative connotations for many people. Most schools of massage therapy require enrollees to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. However, many people enter the massage therapy profession as a second or third career, or after retiring from another field. Having education and experience beyond high school can greatly enrich what you bring to your massage career.
While schools may not conduct criminal background checks on their applicants, many states do require criminal background checks in order for you to obtain a professional massage therapist. If there is any reason you feel you might not pass a background check, it is best to bring it up at the time you enroll so you can avoid graduating from a school but being barred from licensing. Doing too many massages too often for too long, performing massage without practicing proper body mechanics or skimping on self-care can easily result in injuring yourself.
Staying in good physical shape, working out and stretching, maintaining a healthy dietgetting your own massages regularly, and being vigilant about using proper form and posture when you work will help you extend your career and get the most out of your massage education investment.
The total cost of massage therapy school depends partially on where you live and on where you plan to practice once you finish school. In order to become d, most states require you to graduate from a program of at least hours, but may require fewer or more hours, which will affect cost. Most massage schools offer some form of financial aid.
As a first step, make sure that any schools you apply for are accredited—you can look up this information on the U. What Should I Be Looking for? These funds may come from the federal government, from your state, from your individual school or from private entities. For example, to attend one massage school in Gainesville, Florida, you could use any of numerous federal or state grants and loans, as listed on their website, as well as apply for an individual scholarship directly from the school. Again, this partially depends on how many hours your state requires for licensingas well as how many hours you take at a time.
Most massage schools offer a choice of day or evening programs, which may have different starting and ending dates. Beyond learning and practicing massage techniques, you will also study the history and origins of massage; anatomy and physiology; pathology; kinesiology; contraindications to massage; business; ethics; and self-care, among other topics.
For example, you can discover:. This information may be biased, but it should give you an idea of what kind of general reputation the school has amongst current and former students, or people who have applied but not been accepted. Before applying, arrange to take a tour of the school and talk with staff members and current or former students, if possible.
Schools may also offer open house days for prospective students. ELAP standards were created by a consortium of massage organizations to to define minimum standards for preparing massage school graduates for entry-level professional work. Some schools have many faculty members, while some may have all classes taught by one instructor, said Sohnen-Moe. Does it have a library? A student lounge? What percentage do tests, projects and participation count toward your grade? For example, Sohnen-Moe once saw a school that did not use tables and chairs—instead, students sat on floor cushions during class.
Ask specifically, Sohnen-Moe recommended, about how massage clinics are handled. In addition to massaging clients, some clinics also offer students the chance to schedule and confirm client appointments, which can give you good customer service experience, Sohnen-Moe said. Ask how long the massage school has been in business. She also suggested visiting local massage establishments that have employees and asking managers if there is a massage school from which they prefer hiring graduates.
Lisa Garofalo, L. How long will it take you to get there on school days? Will you have to adjust your working hours or other responsibilities in order to attend the program? What method will you use to pay for school? Finally, decide if the school resonates with you personally—all details considered, the environment should just feel like the right fit for you. For independent massage therapists, it is sometimes easy to get caught up in doing the work you love—making people feel better—and forget to work on your own business.
In massage school, part of your education will be performing actual massage therapy on your fellow students and, most likely, on members of the public during portions of your training. Most massage schools offer student massage clinics, with clients paying rates discounted from what they would pay d therapists.
These clinics will offer you the chance to practice your skills on and get feedback from real people and represent an invaluable part of your education. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are during massage sessions, things happen. You may make a mistake and hurt someone during a massage. A client may have an allergic reaction to an ingredient in your massage oil.
Someone may trip and fall as she gets up from your table. Whether or not what happened is your fault, student liability insurance can protect you in the event that a client decides to sue. Student liability insurance may be included as part of your tuition and fees; check and make sure. If it is not included, you will want to obtain your own student policy. These are typically fairly inexpensive, but offer you protection in the event someone is injured during a session. Other companies offer similar policies. Student liability insurance will end once you are no longer a student.
At that point, you will need professional liability insurance. Some states may require additional or alternate exams, but most have adopted the MBLEx as their standard licensing exam. You must apply to take the test, which involves a fee; for full application requirements. If you do not pass the MBLEx the first time you take it, you can re-take it after 30 days, but you must re-apply and pay another fee. The FSMTB does not limit your of re-takes but does note that some state licensing boards may have a limit to the of times you can take the exam.
How can you make sure you pass the MBLEx? How does it work? She recommends getting a study group together and coming up with your own scenario questions and multiple-choice answers. This percent free online resource can be used on any computer or mobile device, so you can study for the MBLEx test anytime, anywhere. Graduating from massage therapy school is just the beginning.
The first step to licensure is to graduate from an accredited massage therapy school with at least the minimum of hours your state requires.
For example, the state of Illinois requires graduation from a program of at least hourswhereas Florida requires a minimum hour program. Once you graduate, you will have to take and pass the MBLEx, or whatever exam s your state mandates. Most states also require fingerprinting or a criminal background check; many also require you to carry professional liability insurance, which will protect you from financial loss in the event that you are sued by a client.
For full, detailed licensing requirements, you will need to consult the website of the massage therapy board of the state in which you want to practice. Once you are d in your state, you will need to maintain your. In most states, this means paying a renewal fee and meeting renewal requirements, which typically include a certain of hours of continuing educationonce every two years, or however often your state mandates. If you move from one state to another, you will need to get d in your new state.
At this point, each state regulates massage therapy differently, so it is not safe to assume that you will qualify for licensing. The typical massage therapist salary depends both on where you work and the type of massage therapy in which you specialize.
Your income will also be affected by the demand for your services in your area, as well as factors such as what you charge per hour, if you accept and bill insurance for your sessions, and if you sell retail products in addition to your massage therapy services. According to the U. Keep in mind that if you are an employee, your taxes should be withheld from your pay by your employer; if you are self-employed and work as an independent contractor, you will be responsible for withholding and paying estimated quarterly taxes yourself.
If you are a business owner, you will also have to factor into your total income the expenses of doing business, such as supplies, employee wages, and property and sales taxes. The demand for massage therapists is increasing.
This growth trend suggests more members of the public are seeking out massage, as well as a greater variety of venues where massage takes place.
Depending on your interests, skills and personality, you may find any of job placements appealing. For example, you might choose to work in:. Being your own boss is the goal of many massage therapists. These can either be stand-alone establishments or be located in places such as theme parks, cruise ships, airports, hotels, shopping malls, resorts or any destination people go to relax. Small or large massage chains offer you the chance to work as an employee for an established company. Many hospitals now offer massage and other complementary services for patients, families and staff.
Several companies specialize in dispatching massage therapists to homes, hotels and offices on request from clients, usually via an app. If you work in private practice, you may work alone as an independent contractor or you may choose to have employees. Either way, you will have complete control over how you work, but be aware that you will also be responsible for making decisions for and funding all aspects of your business, including but not limited to booking and confirming client appointments; marketing your services; setting prices and collecting client payments; renting a space for your business and paying for its utilities; hiring, training and firing employees; withholding and paying income tax; collecting and paying sales tax if you sell retail products ; handling details of business licensing and permits; dealing with laundry; and purchasing supplies such as tables, linens, bolsters, lubricants and uniforms.
Choosing to work as an employee may mean not making as much money per massage as an independent contractor, but it also means having many business-related issues and associated expenses handled for you. As an employee, you may not have control over how many clients you massage each day, the massage techniques and routines you use, marketing tactics, or details such as how you dress or what hours you work.
Many massage therapists choose to work as employees to gain experience and save money before opening up their own private practices. Others may work part-time for an employer while also seeing clients privately in their off hours. Still others build a fulfilling career working for an employer. As your body of experience grows, you may want to enhance your income stream while avoiding adding more massages to your schedule. You can do this in several ways, such as:. This is a great way to make more money without doing more massage. This will make some of your massage work less physically taxing.
If you find you really enjoy working with a certain type of client, you might also choose to seek further training that allows you to focus on one particular population. Some types of massage therapy certification you could pursue include myofascial release, lymphatic massage, sports massage, pediatric massage, infant massage, geriatric massage, pregnancy massage and oncology massage.
If you love animals, training is also available in equine, canine, feline and small-animal massage therapy. As with initial licensing requirements, the amount and type of continuing education you need varies by state. Some states require both a certain of hours of continuing education, and education in certain areas—for example, on the subject of ethics or HIPAA compliance.Does anyone need want a free massage from an lmt
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Massage Therapy School: Everything You Need to Know