Career Massage Therapist
By Diane Turner
Massage therapy is in high demand and this one of those professions that has a great career prospects in terms of career development. Massage therapy is practiced by applying pressure, heat and friction to specific soft tissues and muscles in the body. This form of therapy can be used for medical and relaxation purposes or benefits. It is one of the most renowned methods of relieving tension and pain in the tendons and muscles making it one of the best ways to relax or reduce the stress levels that come with everyday life. Massage therapy has for the longest time been associated with medical relief but is yet to be fully utilized in the health sector. However, more and more massage therapist are gaining full time employment in hospitals, private clinics and other areas of medical care which just shows that it is no longer only a preserve for unconventional medicine.
Most people assume that massage therapy is an easy job and one that does not require much expertise. This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. The therapy is actually a profession like any other and one that requires special training. There are over 89 types of massage techniques and some of these areas a massage therapist could specialize in include: neuromuscular massage, acupressure, reflexology, deep-tissue massage, Swedish massage and sports massage just to mention a few. As you can see, just because you are good with your hands doesn’t mean that you can take on a job as a massage therapist. You need to be aware on how to perform this kind of therapy based on the patient’s condition and muscles since there are instances where a simple massage could make things worse. It therefore requires expertise.
In certain states, you cannot be called a massage therapist without having a license and formal training. There are two bodies that provide massage therapy examinations and these are The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination as well as The National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage. So what kinds of training programs are available for those who want to join this profession? Well, you will be glad to know there are massage therapy programs available and these are quite flexible since both full time and part-time classes are available. Choosing a training institution is one of the most important things you can dosince you need to find a school that is state accredited. In fact, some states even dictate that you must have an accredited degree before you can start your own massage therapy practice. These training programs take about 500 hours of class work and practical training. Some of the subjects covered in these training programs include: anatomy, studying of organs and tissues, physiology, kinesiology, body mechanics as well as business management. Most massage therapy training institutions offer continuous education programs and placement services as well.
As a massage therapist, your success not only lies on how good your services are but the rapport you develop with your clients. You need to have people skills and most specifically have the ability to make your patients or clients comfortable enough to relax. Anonymity, privacy and loyalty are all a part of this profession. Personal details of your clients must remain private because you will be dealing with clients from all walks of life and you need to retain them as your regular clients. Above everything else, you need to be good at your job. A massagetherapist is only successful if clients are happy with the results and this means using proper techniques. Some techniques may injure a patient and you need to first identify if your patient has had any injuries in order to identify the best massage technique to conduct. Career prospects for growth as a massage therapist are encouraging and there is room for growth in various areas of employment. As a massage therapist you are not short of places you can gain employment. Massage therapy can be provided in fitness centers, airports, shopping malls, hospitals, other healthcare facilities and even in homes. It all depends on the client’s preferences. Massage therapists who are employed often work full time and their working hours range from anywhere between 15 and 30 hours per week.
The profession also comes with variable work schedules and you will find that many massage therapists also work part-time. This is one tedious job since it is physically involving and this is perhaps the reason why you find that many massage therapists have such flexible work schedules.If you are wondering how much the financial prospects of the profession, well salary for a massage therapist isan average of $48,000 a year.
Massage Therapist Average Salary
Though the average massage therapist salary is $48,000, how much a massage therapist earns is dependent on a lot of factors and these include location, area of employment, experience and others. An entry level massage therapist should expect to earn much less than the national average amount since the average salary of a massage therapist at entry level point is only $20,400. The good news is that there is room for growth and there are in fact massage therapists who earn more than $80,000 a year.
Massage Therapist Salary Factors and Influences
As we have mentioned, the main factors that affect a massage therapists pay are experience, location and area of employment. Below we tackle these three factors.
The sector where the massage therapist works matters a lot. You will find the highest concentration of massage therapists in industries such as personal care, healthcare, recreation industries and travel accommodation such as resorts. Though these are the major employers, they don’t necessarily pay the best. The best places for a massage therapist to work would be in ambulatory health care services and though very few are employed in this sector, they earn an average salary of $60,150. Nursing care facilities are also good employers paying their massage therapists anaverage pay of $56,790 while Physician offices pay $50,520. Specialty hospitals which deal physiotherapy are also major employers and in this employment sector, a massage therapist earns an average pay $50,380. One of the worst employers is personal care services. This sector pays its massage therapist an average salary of $37,980 while travel accommodation offers even lower salaries with their average salary hitting only $36,430.
Location also has a major impact on the pay a massage therapist takes home with the highest paying metropolitan areas being Anchorage with an average salary of $86,320, Corvallis, OR with an average salary of $79,870, York, PA comes in third with an average salary of $76,930 and Mount Vernon takes fourth place with an average of $64,170.
Given the fact that a massage therapist’s salary ranges from $20,000 to over $80,000 per year, it’s safe to say that experience is significant. This is because massage therapists take time before they gain loyal clients. With more experience comes regular clients, their income increases gradually and they are able to earn a better living. Massage therapists with experience 0-1 years earn between$20,400 and $26,963 while those with 1-4 years earn an average salary of $34,392. 5-9 years automatically means that you already have a loyal clientele base and that is why the salary of a massage therapist in this bracket is $49,128. Those with 10-19 years experience earn an average salary of $52,410.
Massage Therapist Salary Compared To Related Fields
Massage therapists may have flexible working hours and may enjoy some fabulous working locations such as massage parlors and high end resorts but their salaries do not compare competitively with professionals in related fields. This is probably because their services are yet to be fully considered as health care services. Below we give you a comparison of similar professions and their average annual salaries.
Average Salary of a Physical Therapist: $78,270
Average Salary of a Chiropractor: $67,000
Average Salary of a Registered Nurse: $65,690
Average Salary of a Respiratory Therapist: $64,000
Average Salary of a Medical Assistant: $39,000
Average Salary of a Physical Therapy Assistant: $37,710
Massage Therapist Salary by State
As we have explained earlier, the average salary for a massage therapist is greatly affected by location. Earlier we indicated the best paying states for massage therapists and their average annual pay, now we feature a couple of states and list how much they pay their massage therapists.
Massage Therapist Average Salary in New York: $57,000
Massage Therapist Average Salary in Georgia: $53,000
Massage Therapist Average Salary in Illinois: $51,000
Massage Therapist average Salary in California: $48,000
Massage Therapist Average Salary in Arkansas: $48,000
Massage Therapist Average Salary in Texas: $46,000
Massage Therapist Average Salary in Florida: $46,000
Massage Therapist Average Salary in Oklahoma: $44,000
Massage Therapist Average Salary in Alaska: $41,000
Massage Therapist Average Salary in Idaho: $40,000
Massage Therapist Average Salary in Hawaii: $34,000
Massage Therapist Types of Salaries
What most people don’t know is that there are various types of massage therapists. If you are interested in becoming a massage therapist, you may want to consider specialization based on the following salaries.
Acupressure Massage Therapist: Average Salary: $61,000
Acupressure has Chinese roots and this is a form of therapy that applies principals’similar to acupuncture. Acupressure massage therapists use their fingers, elbows, palms and sometimes even feet to apply pressure on pressure points or meridian points. This form of therapy is said to be great for the mind, body and soul.
Deep Tissue Massage Therapists: Average Salary: $48,000
Deep tissue massage therapists are called in to deal with stiffness. The therapy targets tendons, muscles and deep tissues as the name suggests. The therapy is intense and patients are often in slight pain but most will tell you that it is good pain. Deep tissue massage is highly therapeutic.
ReflexologyMassage Therapist; Average Salary: $47,000
Also known as reflexology, these massage therapists are trained at identifying pressure points in the hands and feet. These pressure points are interconnected to specific organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver and even pancreas. This form of therapy is ideal in when it comes to relieving stress and could also be used to treat hormonal and digestive disorders. Most reflexologists are self employed while others can be found employed in spas and hospitals.
Sports Massage Therapists: Average Salary: $57,000
Sports massage therapists mainly work with athletes and are often hired by sports teams to relieve soreness and sports injuries. Sports massage therapists are knowledgeable in various types of massage therapies and are skilled at identifying muscle groups and tendons. They can perform lymphatic massage, compression massage and Swedish massage amongst others.
Neuromuscular Massage Therapist: Average Salary: $75,000
Neuromuscular massage therapy is also known as trigger point myotherapy and this therapy concentrates on muscle strain. The massage is usually conducted withthe use of elbows, knuckles and fingers and is applied to muscle spasms. This type of massage is not the most comfortable especially at first but is essential when itcomes to improving blood flow and relieving tension.
Swedish MassageTherapist: Average Salary: $47,000
Swedish massage therapists can be found in spas and this is a common form of massage therapy. This type of therapy is based on anatomy concepts that concentrate on meridian points to release muscle knots and adhesions. Usually your therapist will ask you if you have had any type of injuries before giving you a Swedish massage.
History of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy can be traced back to more than 5,000 years ago and is highly credited to the Chinese who have been using this form of therapy as alternative form of healing. It is actually one of the earliest techniques used to provide pain relief and has long been associated with not just physical healing but the mind as well. As of 2010, the number of massage therapists in the US stood at 153,700 and this number is expected to grow significantly over the years as demand for this form of therapy is ever increasing.
Massage Therapist Salary Outlook – Conclusion
The job outlook for this profession is great. For starters there is an expected growth of 20% between the years 2010 and 2020 which is faster than the average for other professions. With more and more states adopting newer standards and licensingrequirements for this profession, you can expect that massage therapists will become even more recognized and perhaps even enjoy a better average salary than what they currently do. The average salary for a massage therapist currently stands at $48,000.