Clinical Massage Therapist: Salary Information and Career Overview

Sep 15, 2019

If you have 'healing hands', or an ability to heal and relieve pain through touch, you may be considering a career as a massage therapist. This job requires formal training and licensure, because it focuses on the medical benefits of massage. Clinical massage therapists use massage to treat disorders and pain diagnosed by doctors.

Essential Information

Clinical massage therapists use hands-on manipulation of muscles and tissue through the skin to treat injuries or dysfunctions and alleviate pain, focusing particularly on the medical benefits of body work. In order to become a massage therapist, at a minimum, one must complete a training program in massage therapy, many of which lead to the award of a certificate. State licensing is required in some states, but all clinical massage therapists must hold national licensure, regardless of state mandates. Certification in the field is preferred and may coincide with licensing requirements.

Required Education Certificate in massage therapy
Licensure and Certification Licensing required to claim the title of 'clinical' massage therapist; licensing and certification exams available through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 22% for all massage therapists
Median Salary (2018)* $41,420 for all massage therapists

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Information for Clinical Massage Therapists

As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) May 2018, the BLS reported that workers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $78,280 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $21,340 or less per year. The top-paying industries for massage therapists, including clinical therapists, were psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, and individual and family services, in May 2018.

Clinical Massage Therapist Career Overview

Clinical massage therapists focus on the medical benefits of massage techniques and use their skills to treat ailments diagnosed by licensed medical professionals. These ailments may include sports injuries, arthritis, muscle pain or circulatory issues. Clinical massage can also be used to help with anxiety issues or to relieve headaches. Clinical massage therapists may work in hospitals, clinics or physical therapy offices. They can also work for health clubs, nursing homes and chiropractic offices. Some common clinical therapy practices include hydrotherapy, sports massage and trigger point therapy.

Job Growth and Employment Info

Clinical massage therapists may either be employed by a health care organization or other businesses, or they may be self-employed. Massage therapists should see a job growth much faster than the national average through 2028. This job growth, which is much faster than the average for all jobs, was due to an increasing acceptance of massage therapists as licensed professionals and acknowledgment of massage therapy benefits.


Most states state that only licensed professionals can claim the title of massage therapist, according to the BLS. To earn a license, aspiring clinical massage therapists usually need to complete a training program and pass an exam. Clinical massage therapy programs are available through community colleges and technical schools and often result in a certificate. Students in these training programs study anatomy, physiology and massage assessment. Clinical experiences are generally included in the programs. To get certified and obtain a license in most states, graduates of certificate programs can take exams offered through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

Massage therapy is a rapidly growing field. To become licensed, an aspiring clinical massage therapist must complete an accredited program and pass an exam. Once practicing, clinical massage therapists can be self-employed, work for companies or in hospitals. They specifically address medically diagnosed issues through body work.

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