Massage Therapists

Education Needed to be Massage Therapists in the USA

Training standards and requirements for massage therapists vary greatly by state and locality. Education programs are typically found in private or public post-secondary institutions and can require 500 hours or more of study to complete.

A high school diploma or equivalent degree is usually required for admission. Training programs may concentrate on certain modalities, or specialties, of massage. Several programs also offer job placement and continuing education. Both full-time and part-time programs are available.

Licenses and Certifications

All the prospective Massage Therapists must get either a license or certification after graduating from an accredited training program and before practicing massage. Passing an exam is usually required for licensure.

The exam may be solely a state exam or one of two nationally recognized tests, they are as mentioned below:
  • The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) and,
  •  The National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB).

Massage therapy licensure boards decide which certifications and tests to accept on a state-by-state basis. Those wishing to practice massage therapy should look into legal requirements for the state and locality in which they intend to practice. A fee and periodic license renewal also may be required.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition

Pay of Massage Therapists in the USA

The median annual wage of massage therapists was $34,900 in May 2010.  The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,970, and the top 10 percent earned more than $69,000.Most massage therapists earn a combination of wages and tips.

Job Prospects of Massage Therapists in the USA

Employment of massage therapists is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Continued growth in the demand for massage services will lead to new openings for massage therapists.
There is increased number of  number of spas,  massage clinic franchises and spas and resorts which employ a large number of therapists in recent years.
In addition, as an increasing number of states adopt licensing requirements and standards for therapists, the practice of massage is likely to be respected and accepted by more people as a way to treat pain and to improve overall wellness.

Industrial Overview of Massage Therapists in the USA

Massage therapists held about 153,700 jobs in 2010. The majority of massage therapists were self-employed in 2010. Others worked mainly in personal care services and various healthcare industries.
About 60 percent of massage therapists were self-employed in 2010, the majority of the rest worked in the following industries:
Personal care services    18
Offices of chiropractors    5
Traveler accommodation, including hotels and motels    4
Fitness and recreational sports centers    2
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