Massage therapists are healthcare workers who use soft tissue massage to treat various symptoms and conditions. By manipulating skin and tissues, massage therapists can relieve pain, improve circulation, alleviate stress, promote relaxation, and give patients an overall sense of wellbeing. Massage therapists work in a variety of environments, including doctor's offices, hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities. Some prefer to work in spas and fitness centers, while others go into private practice and treat patients in their homes. Some massage therapists move on to physical therapy aide jobs.
The daily tasks of a massage therapist include:
Assessing the patient's condition
Determining appropriate treatment plans
Performing massage therapy on a variety of patients
Collaborating with other health professionals to develop a course of treatment
Documenting encounters with patients
Cleaning and maintaining treatment rooms and materials
Keeping accurate patient and business records
Of course, a massage therapist's daily tasks vary greatly depending on the work environment; a therapist in private practice will have many daily recordkeeping tasks, as well.
Massage Therapist Job Education Requirements
As with most healthcare jobs, states typically require a professional license to work as a massage therapist. The requirements vary state by state, but at a minimum, expect to complete at least 500 hours of post-secondary training; some states require 1,000 hours to qualify for licensure. Most licensing requirements include passing the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLex).
Massage therapists who plan to work for themselves should also take some business and accounting courses.
Massage Therapist Job Market
As more medical specialties recognize the unique contributions of massage therapists, demand for certified therapists has grown rapidly. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth of nearly 23 percent over the next decade, much higher than most professions. The BLS expects the field to add 30,000 new jobs by 2022. The huge growth in spas and massage centers also contribute to heavy demand for massage therapists.
Massage Therapist Job Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for massage therapists in 2012 was $17.29, or roughly $36,000 per year. However, salaries vary greatly depending on where the therapist works. The salaries for massage therapists employed at high-end spas or private physician's offices can reach $70,000 or more. Self-employed massage therapists set their own rates, which range between $60 and $100 per hour on average. Some massage therapists transition into roles as wellness specialists; these positions often include higher hourly pay or monthly salary.