Become A Massage Therapist
If you’re looking for opportunity and options in your professional career, why not consider massage therapy? This profession is growing steadily in the U.S., as more and more people recognize the stress-reducing and health-enhancing benefits of touch therapy. According to the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, one of every eight Americans received at least one massage in 2004.
The many available positions in esthetic and medical settings include both full- and part-time positions, with options for working as an employee or as an independent contractor. Additionally, many estheticians often obtain massage therapy licenses to broaden the scope of their practices.
Training you’ll need
Training programs vary widely, offering from 100 hours to more than 2,000 hours of instruction. Before selecting a program, it’s important to first check your state’s Licensing Requirements, since the majority of states that license massage therapists currently require at least 500 hours of training at an approved school. Next, determine your ultimate purpose for obtaining a license. Do you want to work in a spa or medical office? Do you intend to establish a private practice? Each of these areas will have varying requirements in terms of hours and accreditation.
What you’ll learn
A basic, 500-hour massage program will cover anatomy and physiology, massage theory and practice, exposure to an array of modalities and philosophies, plus material on the business and ethical aspects of the profession. Some of the most well-known massage and bodywork modalities include Swedish massage, sports massage, Shiatsu, deep tissue massage, prenatal/pregnancy massage and reflexology.
Where you’ll work
Massage therapists are in high demand in resorts and spas, where massage is the most-requested service. There are also many exciting opportunities in hotels, health clubs and on cruise ships. If you’re interested in the medical aspects of massage, look for positions in health clinics, hospitals, doctors’ offices and chiropractors’ offices. Some of these facilities require their massage therapists to be on staff as regular employees, while others do not hire them outright but lease space to independent contractors. You also may decide to go into business for yourself by opening an office or visiting clients in their homes or offices.
A typical day
Let’s say you’re employed as a massage therapist in the spa of a beautiful resort hotel. You’ll dress for work in loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. When you arrive at the spa, you’ll store your belongings in your locker, and the spa manager will give you a list of your scheduled clients for the day. Several minutes before each client arrives, you’ll place fresh linens on the massage bed, check to be sure your massage oil container is full, turn on soothing music and dim the lights. You may even light a scented candle.
You’ll greet your clients, escort them to your treatment room, explain how to disrobe and position themselves onto the bed, and then leave as they settle in. In a few moments you’ll return and discuss your client’s particular goals for the treatment (stress reduction, sore muscles, etc.) and formulate your specific strategy. Then, for the next 50 or 90 minutes, silence, as you manipulate the body according to the massage modality you have chosen. Finally, you’ll offer your client a glass of water or a cup of tea, and leave the room to prepare the beverage as the client gets dressed. When you return, prepare to discover a rejuvenated and relaxed client who truly appreciates your skill and your therapeutic touch!