Overview of Online Sports Massage Certification Programs
There is no industry certification or licensure for sports massage therapy, but students interested in helping athletes boost their athletic performance may pursue general massage therapy certification and then complete an online certificate program in sports massage therapy to further their skills. While there are some online general massage therapy certificate programs that may include sports massage in the curriculum and some hybrid certificate programs in clinical sports massage, students may be interested in completing the hybrid sports massage certificate program offered by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). It's designed to prepare students for the sports massage specialty certificate exam offered by the National Certification Board For Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). This exam can be taken online and is intended to demonstrate competency and superior learning in the field of sports massage.
Entry-level massage therapy certificate programs that include topics in sports massage may be available fully online (and/or offer an optional hands-on training session) and only require students to have a high school diploma. Hybrid certificate programs in clinical sports massage may take as little as 2 semesters to complete and typically require students to have already completed a massage therapy program that required around 600 hours or more. Students interested in taking the AMTA's certificate program are required to have at least 500 in-class hours of massage therapy training, a current state license or NCBTMB certification, and knowledge of anatomy and physiology.
Requirements for Online Sports Massage Certification
Students in online sports massage certificate programs learn about the science behind sports massage, as well as massage techniques and applications in the field. Hybrid certificate programs may require online coursework in various topics pertaining to the science, ethics, and benefits of sports massage, followed by a hands-on workshop where students can learn and practice specific sports massage methods and techniques.
Some entry-level massage therapy certificate programs that include topics in sports massage can be completed in as little as 4 months, may be self-paced, and are designed to provide students with a basic overview of various massage techniques. More advanced certificate programs, such as the clinical sports massage certificate program provide students with a more in-depth study of assessments, developing care plans, and using techniques specific to sports massage. Students in these programs may get hands-on training in strategies like scraping technique, friction therapy, and cupping with drag, and may be required to complete an internship for training.
The hybrid certificate program from the AMTA that is intended to prepare for the NCBTMB specialty certificate exam includes 6 online courses, followed by the hands-on workshop. Students may also take courses or the entire program for continuing education credits. The online courses cover topics in ethics, injury and recovery, career development, and athlete care. Students receive a letter of verification after completing the AMTA program and can then take the 80-question exam from the NCBTMB, which takes about 80 minutes to complete.
Career Outcomes with Sports Massage Certification
Students with specialty certificates in sports massage can work as sports massage therapists in a variety of settings. Some may work in areas like sports centers, hotels, day spas, holistic health centers, and more. Sports massage therapists may specialize in working with athletes and other active patients but are typically trained in a wide range of massage techniques. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), massage therapists typically need to have a postsecondary nondegree award.
As of 2019, the BLS stated that massage therapists made a median salary of $42,820. Another site, PayScale.com, reported that the median salary specifically for sports massage therapists was $45,000, as of August 2019. The job outlook for massage therapists as a whole was 22% from 2018 to 2028, per the BLS. This job outlook is more than five times the national average.
The NCBTMB offers a specialty certificate in sports massage online and students can also pursue various hybrid certificate programs in the field. While students complete online coursework, hands-on training takes place during workshops or internships.