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What is Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy is the area of study and practice that deals with patient care through various techniques and methods that relax tense muscles and facilitate in stress relief. Individuals in this field will learn a variety of therapeutic techniques used to massage and loosen muscles and relieve tension and pain through. Individuals will be asked to work with a variety of customers and patients dealing with stress, muscle pain, tension or other similar ailments. Massage therapists tend to have odd hours, especially for individuals who make house calls, and many tend to work part time because of the physical toll the profession can have on one's hands.
A degree in massage therapy demonstrates the individual's ability to relieve stress through the manipulation of soft tissue, deep tissue, connective tissue and muscles. Massage therapy incorporates various forms of therapy, such as acupuncture, acupressure, Swedish massage sport massage, aromatherapy and more. Individuals can seek licensure, certification, diploma or degree when pursuing a career in massage therapy. The most common method is to pursue an associate's degree in massage therapy through community college, vocational college, or schools specializing in massage therapy. Typically, individual choosing to obtain a bachelor's will do so in a subject that is a companion to a massage therapy associates degree.
Online courses are also available, however hands on experience is a must for future employment. As with similar professions, an individual's ability is a cornerstone to his or her success. Students participating in an online program should find resources that will assist in applying knowledge learned into practical experience. This may be done by practicing on friends, or volunteering at a parlor or spa in order to work alongside professionals to refine and perfect techniques.
Those who pursue an associate's degree will be asked to take courses in:
- Various Massage Courses
- Business Management and Ethics
- Required General Education Courses
Employment Opportunities and Licensure
Massage therapists tend to have flexible hours and work part-time due to the physical strain from giving massages. Some individuals or business with accomodate clients by making appointments at the client's location. The variety of employment opportunities for a massage therapist are plentiful, this is due to an increasing demand for such services. Over the next decade opportunities are expected to grow, this is primarily due to an aging population that will require physical treatment for pains that come naturally with age. The work performed can be physically draining and as such, odd or limited hours in a given week are standard. It is normal for a massage therapist to less than 30 hours a week.
Some individuals may choose to open their own business. Those that do will have to comply with local and state regulations regarding business as well as the practice of massage therapy. Private businesses may be specific to massage therapy por encompass a variety of services. The viability of such businesses is based on quality of service and the number of clients that become repeat business. As with any business, maintaining a healthy rapport with clients and maintaining good business practice is tantamount to success.
Possible employers include::
- Chiropractic Offices
- Massage Parlors
- Wellness Centers
Licensing for massage therapy varies from state to state, and national certification is needed. Massage therapy continuing education classes may be required every four years to maintain certification and licensing in some states. Individuals pursuing an education and career in massage therapy should familiarize themselves with local, state and federal regulations regarding massage therapy, and remain current to any changes that may be made in order to maintain compliance with the law.
Salary and Related Fields
The average salary for a massage therapist is between $30-$40 per hour, but can be as high as $80-$90 per hour based on the qualifications and experience of a given therapist. The average income of a massage therapist will also be affected by the number of hours he or she will work in a given week.
If you are considering pursuing a bachelor's degree in a related degree you may want to consider a Health and Physical Education Degree, Physical Therapy Degree, or a Physical Therapist Assistant Degree.
For additional information, read our Complete Guide to a Career in Massage Therapy on our blog.