Body Therapist: Career Profile

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a body therapist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensure information to find out if this is the career for you.

Massage therapy is used for medical and cosmetic purposes, and training is determined by the type of massage the student wishes to perform. Licensing is dependent on state requirements, and massage therapists can either be fully independent or work in association with a local medical practice.

Essential Information

Body therapists work with clients in need of therapeutic massage, massage for relaxation or cosmetic skin treatments. They may use different bodywork modalities in their practices depending on their abilities, their employer or their client. Workers in this field can find work as independent practitioners or in chiropractors' offices, spas and even cruise ships. Those who work for a medical doctor or chiropractor may take instruction from the physician or chiropractor about the techniques that the body therapist should be using. Massage school, licensing and certification are available to advance this career.

Required Education Minimum of 500 hours in massage therapy program; varies by state
Other Requirements Licensure in some states; certification optional
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 22% (for massage therapists)
Median Salary (2015)* $38,040 (for massage therapists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Licensing and Certification for Body Therapists


Some states and municipalities require massage and body therapists to be licensed, while others don't. Licensing laws vary by jurisdiction, but typically require body therapists to complete an approved training program and pass a licensing exam.


Professional associations for body therapists, such as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), offer certification to massage therapists who meet educational requirements and who successfully pass an exam. This credential might enhance a body therapist's career prospects and, in areas where massage therapy isn't licensed, establish his or her credibility as a bodywork professional. One might also earn certification in different bodywork modalities.

Body Therapist Education and Training

Massage Therapy School

Massage therapy schools train body therapists in various styles of massage. These schools usually offer curricula that cover anatomy, physiology and training in bodywork. Students must typically also participate in a supervised internship or work in a student clinic before graduation.

Esthetician Training

Estheticians are trained in a variety of beauty and personal appearance services, including non-therapeutic massage. In many states, an esthetician can offer massage services to the public, although these services may be restricted to situations in which the esthetician is applying skin care products to the skin or providing some type of skin care service. One advantage of receiving massage training through an esthetics program is that the student can also be licensed to offer additional services, although students who wish to practice therapeutic massage as well will need additional training and, in most states, licensure.

Salary and Job Prospects

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), massage therapists earned a median annual salary of $38,040 as of May 2015. The BLS projected that job opportunities in massage therapy would grow at the faster-than-average rate of 22% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS does caution that new massage therapists will have to work to build up a clientele, which may mean that they will not have full-time employment when they first begin to work.

Massage therapy students learn to recognize different muscle groups and how certain bodywork techniques can be used to provide full relaxation. Students have the option to focus on therapeutic massage therapy, but specializing in esthetic training and gaining additional skills may help to advance their professional career and build their clientele. This is a high-growth field with median salaries of about $38,000.

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