Masseuses: Employment Outlook & Requirements

Mar 25, 2019

Masseuses need hundreds of hours of training and must be certified. Read ahead to find out more about this profession, including skills required, salary information and the career outlook. Information on two alternative careers are highlighted below.

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Job Description for a Masseuse

A masseuse is a female massage therapist, as opposed to a male massage therapist who would be called a masseur. Masseuse careers offer a great degree of flexibility and the opportunity to work part-time or full-time to provide physical therapy and stress relief to a diverse client base. Approximately 89% of all practicing therapists were female as of 2017, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), The numerous types of massage, or modalities, include Swedish, Shiatsu and deep tissue massage.

Masseuses may specialize in a particular modality or provide a variety of massage services, evaluating clients' needs and physical conditions to determine the most beneficial course of treatment. Spas and salons, physical therapy centers and private massage clinics offer employment to masseuses, though 39% were self-employed as of 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),

Required Education Training program requirements vary according to state; most programs require at least 500 hours of training
Necessary Skills Sensitivity; ethics; knowledge of kinesiology, physiology and body mechanics; physical stamina; business
Median Salary (2017)* $39,990 (for all massage therapists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 26% (for all massage therapists)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

Massage regulations are determined by state; the ATMA reports that 39 states currently impose rules on this profession. Most require at least 500 hours of massage training for a program to become accredited, while others, like New York, require 1,000 hours or more. Once an aspiring masseuse has completed a training program, she can sit for the national certification exam administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), Successful completion qualifies the Masseuse to add 'Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB)' to her professional materials, provided that certification is renewed every four years. Some states also accept the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB),

Job Skills

Aside from earning their state's required training and certification, masseuses must be sensitive to their clients' needs and comfort levels, familiar with general ethics and knowledgeable about kinesiology, physiology and body mechanics. Because the job of a masseuse is physically demanding, she must also be practiced in proper technique and possess adequate stamina to treat multiple clients on a weekly or daily basis. Most masseuses also benefit from general business acumen, since self-employment is common in the field.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS projects a much faster than average job growth of 26% in the massage therapy field from 2016-2026. Earning potential can be largely determined by the individual masseuse based on experience and place of employment; a beginning masseuse in a day spa may not charge as much as an experienced masseuse with a private practice or a position at a luxury resort.

The BLS reported that massage therapists, in general, earned a median income of $39,990 per year in 2017. Because of the profession's great degree of flexibility in schedule, workplace and modality, the number of qualified masseuses is likely to increase along with the steady demand for their services.

Alternative Career Options

Some skills necessary to become a masseuse may help prepare you for a career in other areas.

Physical Therapist

To become a physical therapist, individuals need a master's or doctoral degree in the field and to be licensed. These workers use different treatment forms to treat injuries and illnesses. From 2016 to 2026, the employment growth for physical therapists was predicted to be 28%, which is much faster than average compared to other occupations. On average, the median annual income was $86,850 for these workers, based on the BLS' 2017 data.


Like physical therapists, chiropractors need a professional degree (Doctor of Chiropractic) and state licensure. One of their responsibilities is to analyze and adjust a patient's spine, but they also provide consultation on healthy living options. May 2017 reports from the BLS listed the median salary of chiropractors to be $68,640. A 12% job increase was reported by the BLS for chiropractors between 2016 and 2026.

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