How Much Money Do Massage Therapists Make & Where Do Massage Therapists Work?

We have previously written about how much massage therapists make. Recently however we came across results from a research study conducted by the ABMP, a member and income survey of hundreds of massage therapists, which revealed results that are dramatically different from the experience of our volunteer base.

In fact, the ABMP’s survey results are also dramatically different from the numbers published by the United States Bureau of Labor Standards, which reported the average annual income of massage therapists to be $34,900 including tips. Note that in our experience, not all tips and gratuities are reported at all times.

Why are these numbers different? There are several reasons. We obtained our numbers from our volunteer base. The Bureau obtained its numbers by extrapolation which involves several assumptions. Moreover, self-employed therapists are not included in the Bureau’s study, which really make up the majority of massage practitioners in the United States.  The ABMP on the other hand gathers its results by conducting a study of their members.

According to the ABMP’s study, massage therapists earn the following income:

  • Independent practitioners: $25,365
  • Independent practitioners: $22,000
  • Employees: $19,605
  • Employees: $15,750
  • Average gross income during first year of practice: $8,864

Note: These are average figures. Source: ABMP’s survey published by www.massagetherapy.com

Of the therapists interviewed, 78% were independent practitioners, 7% were employees and 15% were a combination of both. The study starts to get interesting when we look into the years of experience which is as follows:

  • Less than 1 year: 12%
  • 1-3 years: 23%
  • 4-6 years: 22%
  • 7-9 years: 13%
  • 10-12 years: 12%
  • 13-15 years: 8%
  • More than 16 years: 10%

Now that we have covered how much massage therapists earn, let’s look at where massage therapists work, their work environment and conditions.

Where Do Massage Therapists Work?

This data is also directly from the ABMP, which was published by www.massagetherapy.com. The data is self-reported through the research study conducted by the ABMP.

  • Therapist’s office (31.5%)
  • Massage clinic (13.8%)
  • Therapist’s home (11.8%)
  • Chiropractic or medical office (10.5%)
  • Day spa (9.6%)
  • Client’s home (5.3%)
  • Chair massages in a therapist’s office (2.5%)
  • Chair massages in a public location (2.4%)
  • Health club (2%)
  • Salon (2%)
  • Resort/hotel (1.9%)
  • Hospital (1.1%)
  • Destination spa (0.8%)

What is the Typical Workload of a Massage Therapist?

  • Average number of clients seen per week: 10
  • Average client contact hours per week: 17.8
  • Median client contact hours per week: 12
  • 47% of massage therapists have another job, at which they spend an average of 22 hours per week. The top five secondary occupations: office, medical, education, sales/retail, massage instructor.
  • 67.2% of massage therapists say they wish they had more clients

In our experience, we understand the average number of clients per massage therapist per week to be higher, as is the client contact hours per week. This is perhaps because our volunteer base was mostly full time employees or business owners who generally work more.

We do find our findings consistent with the ABMP however in terms of handling multiple jobs and wishing they had more clients. Every massage therapist wishes they had more clients than they do.

How do Massage Therapists Split Their Professional Time Between Work Locations?

  • 33.8% of therapists spend all their professional time at one location
  • 31% provide massage at two locations
  • 15.1% provide massage at three locations
  • 73.1% of massage therapists work in a spa at least part time
  • Of these, 64.4% work as independent contractors to the spa

These statistics are also consistent with our understanding based on our survey of our volunteer base. While the ABMP’s and our findings are mostly consistent in terms of where therapists work, their workload, working conditions and how they spend time, a drastic difference exists in the income earned by massage therapists.

Our population is admittedly significantly smaller than the population surveyed by the ABMP. However, we assume that the Bureau’s statistics were compiled utilizing a much larger base than both the ABMP and us. The average amount of income earned by massage therapists in our experience is similar to what the Bureau reports. Interestingly, the ABMP’s reported number is more than $15,000 lower on average.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

Posted in Career Considerations

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