Committing to any long term endeavor involves an investment of time and resources. Before you apply to a massage therapy school to become a licensed massage therapist and begin your glorious $60,000 a year career, there are a few things we urge you to consider before diving in full fledge.
First off, is massage therapy right for you? Have you done any industry research? Have your found the right school? And do you have the financial means to pay for it?
We hope that such questions give you some thoughts to consider and think through as you solidify your decision. This article delves into these questions and provides a guide on what you need to do, what websites you should be researching and how to get financial aid if necessary.
Is Massage Therapy the Right Career For You?
Before you jump straight into finding the right school and committing to a career in massage therapy, have you considered what it truly means to be a massage therapist? You may have heard that massage therapists make $30 an hour or approximately $60,000 a year.
While this can be true, it is not the norm. This figure is on the higher end of the spectrum. While you can make this type of money as a massage therapist, the average wage according to a national survey is closer to $40,000 per year.
You also need to consider the physical and emotional demands of this career as the burn out rate is between 50 to 88% within the first 3 to 5 years after graduation. Most people burn out quickly because of utilizing improper technique that causes pain and injury, or overworking themselves too much.
You need to ensure your investment in your profession is not wasted by following the recommended working guidelines. These considerations can be found in our other article “What you need to know before becoming a Massage Therapist”. Make sure you understand all this profession comes with to make the right choice for yourself.
Conducting Professional / Industry Research
Will you be able to keep up with those requirements? What schools are accredited near you? All these questions need to be thoroughly researched to ensure you don’t run into road blocks and surprises down the road.
You can thoroughly research the massage industry by visiting a number of massage organization websites. These websites are well done and are meant to give you a good understanding of the profession and the various aspects of it.
The list below includes some of the largest and most recognized industry associations. You will most likely become a member of one of them as you progress in your career.
The AMTA is the largest massage therapy association in the United States with over 56,000 members. As a non-profit organization they support massage therapists with CEU credits, insurance offerings and discount on other business-related services.
The TCBTMB is the Board Certification organization that nationally provides the certification process and examinations for state licensing of massage therapists. They are the original certifying body of Massage Therapists.
Similar to AMTA and in operation since 2002 they provide aid to members in the realm of massage therapy.
A growing trend in the US is medical massage and this organization promotes specific training and certification in it.
Similar to AMTA, this body has been supporting massage professionals since 1987. They provide member benefits like insurance, professional events for CEU’s and legislative advocacy.
This is a sister organization of AMTA devoted to the specific role of education and research of massage therapy and advancing the profession in that regard.
These websites will get you accustomed to the various aspects of the profession and give you a better understanding of current trends, education initiatives, legislative initiatives, insurance and benefit packages and other news that can be helpful to you in making an informed decision.
Conducting State Specific Research
There are a few websites that provide State specific information and requirements for massage therapy practice in your State where you live or where you want to practice.
This site provides great overall information for State requirements for CEU’s and licensing.
This organization also provides examinations for state licensing like TCBTMB, but it is also where you can find your local State Massage Therapy board that lists requirements for your State of practice. To research all the requirements for your specific State, click on “Member Boards” and be taken to a list of State boards. You can then click on your State board for more information.
You could also visit your State government website and search “massage therapy license” for other pertinent information regarding requirements. It is important to go through the research process thoroughly. Think about it, you wouldn’t buy a home or a car without researching would you? The career that you want to last you a life time should be no different.
Finding the Right Massage Therapy School
If you need financial assistance to attend school, you will need to apply to a State sponsored institution that provides federal financial aid; more information on that process below.
If money is not an issue, you can take your pick from a plethora of schools and programs, from local vocational institutes, community colleges to best reputed schools located out of State. Whichever you choose, there are usually different options in the length of your program, from an accelerated 3 month option all the way to a 2 year option. Remember to opt for the program that will meet the minimum requirements of your state in terms of both classroom and hands-on training hours.
The following online resources can help you research accredited schools. Each site has a “school finder” and they all include accredited programs that can be found in each State. This lists either direct accrediting agencies or industry specific organizational resources:
- American Massage Therapy Association
- National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB)
- The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA)
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)
- Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
- National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS)
Remember: In order to be certified and take state licensing exams your program will need to be accredited.
Financial Assistance or Aid to Attend School
There are certain criteria you must meet to qualify for Federal financial aid or assistance. This website lists requirements to qualify, who can qualify, how to qualify and the actual application for student aid. Click Free Application for Federal Student Aid to see if you qualify and complete this step before enrolling in a school.
In conclusion, thoroughly research the industry and profession before you research the school you want to attend. The process involves time, resources, lots of work and patience. And for anything that involves that much work, you can never research too much.
Let’s summarize the discussion points in this article:
1) Decide if a career in massage therapy right for you.
2) Research the Industry and your own State’s requirements.
3) List down school that meets the requirements and your financial situation.
4) If needed, apply for federal aid free-of-charge before enrolling in a school.
5) Visit and tour at least 3 campuses / schools that you are interested in attending.
6) Meet with a school counselor or registrar.
7) Call the school’s registrar and start the application process.
On a final note, if you are serious about applying to a massage school, don’t forget to review the tuition and fees, arguably one of the most important factors to consider in your final decision. It would also help to debunk all the myths about schooling and the massage profession as a whole before you proceed.
We hope you found this guide helpful. If you did, please help us spread awareness by using one of the social media buttons below to Like, Share, Plus or Tweet this article.