Students who want to become massage therapists can pursue either an Associate of Applied Science or an Associate of Science in Massage Therapy at technical schools, community colleges, and universities. In these programs, students learn various massage techniques through theoretical coursework and clinical internships. Internships also provide students with experience in treatment planning, appointment setting and sanitation procedures.
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Associate of Massage Therapy Degree
In an associate's degree program, students are introduced to different massage techniques, including Swedish, deep tissue, sports and trigger point. Other complementary health practices and special techniques, such as lymph drainage or myofascial release, are included in some programs. In addition, students learn how to help clients relax, reduce patients' pain and promote overall well-being by manipulating the body's tissues. Common course topics include:
- Ethical massage practice
- Physiology and anatomy
- Infection control
- Massage principles
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates of associate's degree programs in massage therapy can work in spas or healthcare facilities. Some choose to start their own businesses.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) 2014-2024 projections, massage therapists are predicted to see a 22% employment increase. Entry-level massage therapists can boost their career prospects by networking and joining professional organizations. As more spas open, more massage therapists will be needed in order to fill positions. As of May 2015, the median salary for massage therapists was $38,040 per year.
According to the BLS, licensure requirements for massage therapists vary by state. In most cases, students need to pass an exam administered by the state or a nationally recognized organization, such as the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination. Periodically, massage therapists are required to renew their licenses.
Voluntary certification can help job candidates distinguish themselves and is offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. In order to sit for the exam, students need at least 500 hours of training. In order to keep the certification current, massage therapists must take continuing education classes.
In conclusion, an associate's degree in massage therapy provides students with the training that they need to pursue certification and entry-level careers in massage therapy.