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Massage Therapy Schools

Massage therapy is a growing, diverse field, one that provides opportunities for prospective students to pursue a variety of career paths across a wide range of settings, from private practices to hospitals, salons and spas to hotels. In 2014, US News and World Report named massage therapist as the 27th best career on its "The 100 Best Jobs" list. With growing demand for services, solid salary potential and a job with manageable work-life balance, it should come as no surprise that massage therapy is one of the top occupational fields in the country.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy education and degrees

The route to becoming a massage therapist typically follows two paths: a post-secondary certificate or diploma program. While associate degree programs are available, a majority of massage therapists do not have degrees at that level. According to survey data from ONET, 88 percent of massage therapists possess a post-secondary certificate, 9 percent have completed some college with no degree and 3 percent have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Although specific courses vary by school, college or technical institute, massage therapy programs are designed to equip students with the fundamental theoretical and practical knowledge of massage. A subset of example courses may include history of massage therapy, table mechanics and draping, anatomy and physiology and range of massage modalities such as Swedish massage, holistic massage, deep tissue massage and more.

Prospective students can pursue training from a variety of educational providers such as community colleges, technical institutes and vocational schools. As a general rule, students should follow educational guidelines from the American Massage Therapy Association, which recommends students complete at least 500 hours of in-class, supervised training.

It is also important to review state-level massage therapy rules and regulations as some states, such as Kentucky (600 hours), New Mexico (650 hours) and New York (1,000 hours) require more than the recommended 500 hours of study.

Secondly, students should review the accreditation of any institution. Some major, voluntary accrediting agencies include the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology, the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology and the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation.

Massage therapy specializations and modalities

Depending on their professional goals, massage therapists can specialize in a number of specific areas, called modalities. Common massage modalities include the following:

  • Clinical/medical massage therapy
  • Fitness/sports massage therapy
  • Spa & wellness massage therapy
  • Chair massage
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Infant massage
  • Myofascial release therapy
  • Prenatal massage
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Shiatsu
  • Stone therapy
  • Thai bodywork
  • Trigger point

Massage therapy certifications and licensing

In November 2014, the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) entered into a formal agreement on massage therapy and licensing. Previously, both FSMTB and NCBTMB offered formal licensing examinations to qualified massage therapists.

Under the new agreement, the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) will be the sole licensure examination for the industry, being sponsored by the FSMTB. The consolidation of licensing efforts will help establish licensing portability, allowing massage therapists to move freely without worrying about earning a license through multiple organizations.

In addition to meeting industry licensing requirements, massage therapists must also be aware of state-level regulations and examinations. Requirements vary by state; however, the FSMTB and NCBTMB are working with individual state massage boards to ensure a smooth transition under the new licensing agreement.

For example, the state of Alabama requires massage therapists to have 650 hours of study from a board approved massage therapy, complete 16 hours of continuing education credits every two years, pay application and licensing fees, as well as successfully pass the NCTMB certification examination.

Prospective students should review state licensing requirements available from the NCBTMB.

Professional massage therapy associations

American Massage Therapy Association (amtamassage.org)

Associated Bodywork and Message Professionals (abmp.com)

National Association of Massage Therapists (namtonline.com)

National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (ncbtmb.org)

Salaries for massage therapists

In 2013, the national average salary for massage therapists was $40,400, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov). Overall 2013 salaries ranged from up to approximately $18,000 to upwards of $71,000. Below is a breakout of national salaries by earning percentiles:

  • 10%: $18,280
  • 25%: 24,380
  • Median: $35,920
  • 75%: $51,820
  • 90%: $71,020

Some of the top paying massage industries in 2013 included ambulatory health care services ($55,700), specialty hospitals ($62,670) and physician offices ($60,610). Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals the top paying states included Alaska, New York and Oregon. Here is a list of the top five highest average salaries by state in 2013:

  1. Alaska: $88,500
  2. New York: $53,070
  3. Oregon: $52,850
  4. Washington: $51,680
  5. Delaware: $50,280

Career outlook for massage therapists

Projected national growth of 23 percent is expected industry-wide between 2012 and 2022, according to BLS data. That growth means approximately 30,000 new jobs could be created during that time.

The states with the biggest number of employed massage therapists in 2013 included California (9,520), Florida (5,910), Texas (4,950), Washington (4,040) and New York (3,760). Twelve states are projected to experience employment growth at or faster than the national rate, including Washington (47.8%) and Utah (37.6%). Here are projections for the top five fastest growing states for massage therapists:

  1. Washington: 47.8%
  2. Utah: 37.6%
  3. Virginia: 35.2%
  4. Kentucky: 30.9%
  5. Illinois: 30.5%

With growing employment prospects, multiple career path specializations and solid potential career earnings, massage therapy should be an attractive educational option for today's prospective student.

Sources

Bureau of Labor Statistics, OOH, Massage Therapists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, OES, Massage Therapists, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319011.htm

ONET, Massage Therapists, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/31-9011.00

NCBTMB, FSMTB and NCBTMB Reach Agreement, http://www.ncbtmb.org/news/fsmtb-and-ncbtmb-reach-agreement

US News and World Report, Best 100 Jobs, http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-100-best-jobs?page=3

Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Massage Therapy Schools
 
Results:  10
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Get a hands-on, job-specific education at Lincoln Tech.

Programs : Massage Therapy, and more.

Campus Locations :

Brockton: 375 Westgate Drive Brockton, MA 02301

Lincoln: Lincoln Mall 622 George Washington Highway Lincoln, RI 02865

Since 1996, Southern California Health Institute has been dedicated and committed to helping students achieve their dreams by providing an exceptional education that enables them to become skilled and successful manual therapists.

Programs : Advanced Professional Massage Therapy Program, Physical Therapy Aide/Sports Rehab Program, and more.

Campus Locations :

North Hollywood: 5200 Lankershim Blvd. Suite #150 North Hollywood, CA 91601

At Fortis Institute, you may get the skills and training you need to prepare for a career. * Programs vary by location * Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information Please call on  844-252-4552 to talk to a respresentative.

Programs : Massage Therapy, Massage Therapy, Massage Therapist, and more.

Campus Locations :

Richmond: 2000 Westmoreland Street, Suite A Richmond, VA 23230

Kingston: 166 Slocum Street Kingston, PA 18704

Erie: 5757 West 26th Street Erie, PA 16506

Pensacola: 4081 East Olive Road Suite B Pensacola, FL 32514

Scranton: 517 Ash Street Scranton, PA 18509

Norfolk: 6300 Center Drive, Suite 100 Norfolk, VA 23502

Towson: 700 York Road Towson, MD 21204

Wayne: 201 Willowbrook Blvd. Wayne, NJ 07470

Get hands-on training with Remington College. Prefer to speak with a Customer Service Rep? Call 855-264-3155 toll-free now!

Programs : Diploma in Massage Therapy, and more.

Campus Locations :

Honolulu: 1111 Bishop Street Suite 400 Honolulu, HI 96813

Set your career in motion at Virginia College.

Programs : DIP - Therapeutic Massage, and more.

Campus Locations :

Huntsville: 2021 Drake Ave. SW Huntsville, AL 35801

Your educational needs. Our commitment.

Programs : Massage Therapy, and more.

Campus Locations :

Palm Springs: 2475 East Tahquitz Canyon Palm Springs, CA 92262

Jump into the exciting world of technology or medical services at Harris School.

Programs : Massage Therapy, and more.

Campus Locations :

Cherry Hill: 1 Cherry Hill Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

Trenton: 3620 Quakerbridge Road Trenton, NJ 08619

Dover: 655 South Bay Road, Suite 562 Dover, PA 19901

Linwood: 1201 New Road, Suite 226 Linwood, NJ 08221

Wilmington: 1413 Foulk Road Wilmington, DE 19803

Pursue your education with Platt College (Oklahoma).

Programs : Massage Therapy, and more.

Campus Locations :

Lawton: 112 SW 11th Street Lawton, OK 73501

Leave that dead-end job behind with training from Everest College.

Programs : Diploma - Massage Therapy , Diploma - Professional Licensing - Aromatherapy and Spa Specialist, and more.

Campus Locations :

Colorado Springs: 1815 Jet Wing Drive Colorado Springs, CO 80916

Vancouver: 120 N.E. 136th Ave Ste. 130 Vancouver, WA 98684

Kansas City: 1740 W. 92nd Street Kansas City, MO 64114

Bremerton: 155 Washington Avenue Suite 200 Bremerton, WA 98337

Seattle: 2111 N. Northgate Way Suite 218 Seattle, WA 98133

Tacoma: 2156 Pacific Ave. Tacoma, WA 98402

Give your career a boost with an education from Eagle Gate College.

Programs : Diploma in Massage Therapy, and more.

Campus Locations :

Layton: 915 North 400 West Suite 600 Layton, UT 84041

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