Approximately 1,500 massage therapy training programs exist throughout the country, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. Students learn how to treat ailments, aching and tired muscles, and sports injuries. Gaining certification in massage therapy will allow graduates to work as a massage therapist with patients in a variety of healthcare settings. The certification program takes one to two years to complete.
Students learn more than 80 massage techniques; other skills taught include how to assess the patient's medical history and problem areas. Aspiring massage therapists also learn different body mechanics and may study business and ethics, since many massage therapists are self-employed. Graduates must take an exam to obtain licensure from the state in which they wish to practice. Many massage therapists take the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB), which is recognized in many states. Typical coursework includes:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Massage ethics
- Prenatal massage
Popular Career Options
Massage therapists can work in a variety of settings. They work by appointment and often have a work week of about 15-30 hours depending on the facility where they are employed. Many masseurs and masseuses also work independently, setting their own hours, pay, and work environment. Licensed massage therapists can work in hospitals, private offices, patient's homes, fitness centers, and spas.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 168,800 individuals were employed as massage therapists in 2014; many owned their own businesses or worked as independent contractors. The number of massage therapists is estimated to grow by 22% between 2014 and 2024. Their mean hourly wage was $20.76 in May 2015, according to the BLS.
A 2-year massage therapy program prepares students to employ numerous massage techniques for patients with a variety of ailments. Certification can lead to a successful entrepreneurial career as a self-employed massage therapist.