Massage therapy degree programs are primarily taught at the associate's degree level and award an Associate of Applied Science upon completion. During their two years of study, students are taught various methods of massage and muscle manipulation techniques, the physiological outcomes of therapeutic massage, and how to develop assessment practices for maintaining accurate business and treatment records.
Students can also choose specific program specializations such as methods of massage, muscle manipulation, physiological outcomes of therapeutic massage, and assessment practices for accurate business and treatment records.
Graduates of these programs are usually qualified to take certification and licensing exams. Licensure regulations for massage therapists fluctuate from state to state. A common requirement is the passage of a state or nationally recognized certification exam. State and local legal requirements should be fully examined and understood by those aspiring to practice massage therapy in a specific geographical area.
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Massage Therapy Degree Programs
The curriculum in a massage therapy associate's degree programs primarily covers basic anatomy, physiology, and massage theories. Business practices and ethics courses also are a component of these programs. In addition to the general education courses inherent to all associate's degree programs, some specific classes found in most massage therapy programs include:
- Fundamentals of physiology and anatomy
- Introductory coursework in psychology, infection control and computers
- Principles of medical terminology and interpersonal communication
- Business math applications for massage therapists
- Wellness, nutrition and relaxation therapies
- Massage for special populations like pregnant women, infants and cancer patients
Graduates of these programs find employment often with nursing homes, hospitals, chiropractic clinics, wellness centers and alternative medicine providers.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that in 2014, about half of massage therapists were self-employed. Additionally, the BLS predicted 22% growth in employment of massage therapists between the years of 2014 and 2024, greater than the average for all jobs. The average annual salary for massage therapists in 2015 was $43,170, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).
Continuing education options for those who hold an associate's degree in massage therapy can include a bachelor's degree program in the biomedical sciences or related fields. There are also several professional organizations that provide credentialing and certification courses, including the American Massage Therapy Association and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.
An associate's degree in massage therapy will not only prepare students for a career in massage therapy but it will also prepare them to meet licensing and certification requirements. There are also several organizations that an individual can seek certification from to increase professional reputation.