One of the most common questions we hear prospective massage students ask is how do massage therapists feel about their work and careers, and how they view it from a massage practitioners perspective.
We turned around and asked our volunteer base which is made up of previously practicing massage therapists, either as employees or business owners, instructors, owners of spas and massage clinics. We will share with you the information we gathered in this article.
General themes that surfaced during this exercise include the following:
- Practicing massage therapists are in tune with their own mind and body and thus their clients
- Practicing massage therapists are generally optimists, spiritual in nature, have a strong sense of hope and faith
- Practicing massage therapists are calm individuals who are often content
These all may seem generally positive, but there is always a flip side to any coin. In the case of this particular exercise, we found that practicing massage therapists who owned their own small business (mostly as a sole proprietor practitioner) generally disliked the “business side” of the business. In other words, all they wanted to do was really practice massage on their clients. These individuals had/have a genuine desire to heal and help other people.
This is somewhat concerning given that most massage therapists are independent practitioners who run their own business. The reason why so many practitioners own their own business is because most of them have massage as their second or third job and thus the flexibility that comes with owning your own business means a lot. It is NOT uncommon for a massage therapist to hold multiple jobs, which in most cases is by design.
In fact, many massage therapists become so due to lack of fulfillment in their previous careers. There were two main reasons we learned that led to lack of fulfillment. First, they viewed their previous professions as adding no value to society (helping others). Second, they didn’t like not having control over their time.
Becoming a licensed massage therapist enables you to start your own your business and practice massage. This is a key characteristic that attracts many to the profession of massage. Moreover, practicing massage therapy allows you to help people and contribute to the overall well-being of society.
Going back to the business side of things, most massage practitioners we spoke to viewed their professions similar to doctors in that they were on a mission to serve others. Very rarely did we hear practitioners mention that their goals were to grow their business. In fact it was apparent that many disliked the business side of it. They either didn’t understand marketing, or simply did not want to do it in the traditional sense of marketing as we would see for profit businesses engage in.
The biggest reason we heard for the dislike is that the administrative business tasks took away time from their true passion of providing massage. Many mentioned tasks such as marketing to reach new clients, paper work, record keeping, phone calls, managing calendars and appointments, ordering supplies, laundry, changing sheets, accounting, advertising, insurance, etc. all of which are needed to run a business.
While we heard many say that they returned to employment to avoid all such tasks, most remained sole practitioners and therefore owned their own business. From this we conclude that in spite of disliking the business side of things, most massage practitioners value having control over their time and flexibility more than not having to deal with the administrative burden than comes with running a business.