Where and How to Get an Internship in Massage Therapy and Why It is Necessary

During your time in a massage school, you will learn everything you need to know about massage therapy. However, most of the things that you learn will be theory. Of course, you may occasionally get a chance to practically apply the things you have learned, however it may not be enough to make you a master at your trade.

You will need more hands on experience in the field to be able to perform massages without any hassle and truly deliver the benefits your clients expect. To ensure that you are capable of performing massages effectively, almost all massage schools require that you to complete a hands-on internship program.

If you have not completed an internship program, you won’t be able to attempt the National Massage Exam either. The point is simple; unless you have practical experience in the field of massage therapy you cannot become a certified therapist.

Why Is A Massage Internship Necessary?

One of the most common questions that students of massage schools ask is why an internship is necessary since almost every aspect of the profession is covered in school. Moreover, almost every massage technique is taught to every student in a comprehensive manner. Many students are even fully prepared to take the National Massage exam. So, why is internship a requirement?

The answer to this question is quite simple. Most of the things that are taught in a massage school are done with the help of text books and/or diagrams. In other words, whatever students have studied about massage therapy is theory. Even though they may have profound knowledge about how to give a proper massage, they may have never actually performed it on a person.

Knowing the theoretical aspects of anything is one thing, and applying it practically is quite different. This is why a massage therapy internship is necessary. When you go through the internship program, you gain practical experience in the field. Moreover, you are supervised by experienced massage therapists who mentor and teach you about the industry and the trade.

All the concepts that you learn about massage therapy in school can be applied when you do the internship. Moreover, massage therapy is not just about performing a good massage. It is also about building a relationship with your client which is something that cannot be taught and can only be learned from time and experience on the job.

An internship program gives you the ability to apply what you have learned in school in a practical manner. You get a chance to learn how to build a good relationship with your clients. All this is done under the guidance and supervision of experienced massage therapists and it is a great way of expanding your knowledge of massage therapy.

Types of Massage Internships That Are Available

There are mainly three types of internships available to massage therapy students. Do keep in mind that you may not have the option of selecting all three of these internship types. Each type of internship works in a distinct way.

In some instances you just won’t have a choice. Your options will be limited given the school you attend, its resources, connections and the general area of the country you are in.

Let’s take a look at the three types of internships:

On-Site School Facilities

This is one of the most common options for completing your internship program. There are quite a few number of massage schools that have on-site massage facilities. These facilities are open to the general public and allow interns to practice on prospective clients.

Of course, the rates are discounted as the massage therapy is performed by students. Massage therapy students can choose to do their internship here. They are required to complete a certain number of hours daily or weekly to complete the internship requirement.

School Affiliations with Facilities

There may be situations where schools do not have an on-site facility. In such a scenario, they may have affiliations with massage facilities in the area. Students are told about the facilities they can complete their internship at.

Every day or certain days of the week students work at these facilities under the guidance of experienced individuals. Once they have completed the required number of internship hours or days, they are then qualified to attempt the exam. This option is more common than on-site school facility internships.

Internship as a Teaching Assistant

This type of internship is very uncommon; however, some schools do offer it. In this internship type, students do not have to apply massage therapy on patients. On the contrary, they help teachers teach new massage therapy students in order to brush up on what they have learnt. It really defeats the purpose of a hands-on training experience if you ask us. It is our least favorite to say the least.

Facilities That You Can Get Internships At

You can also seek internship programs elsewhere. There are quite a number of facilities that offer massage internships. In some cases, the facility may not be affiliated with your massage school. But as long as it is a reputed institution, there should not be a problem getting your school to approve it. If you are allowed to choose where you can complete the internship program, you have a variety of options.

Be sure to consider your career before you apply for an internship. The basics of massage therapy are the same everywhere, but the practical application may differ in accordance with your profession. Let’s look at some facilities where you can apply for an internship:


If you are interested in becoming a massage therapist at a spa, then you can apply for an internship at a nearby spa facility. Of course, this may also prove helpful if you plan on opening your own business down the road.

When you work in a spa setting, you will be able to get the hands-on experience you need as well as learn about the business side of things and generally how the industry works.


In some cases, massage therapy students may want to enter into the medical profession. If that is the case with you, you should apply for an internship at a hospital or a clinic.

Sports Rehabilitation Centers

Individuals interested in becoming a massage therapist for athletes should consider a sports rehabilitation center. This way, you can get experience in dealing with sports-related injuries and massage techniques that are specific to certain repetitive movements like athletes engage in their respective sports.

Do You Get Paid For an Internship?

There are some internship programs that actually pay you for the duration of your program. However, this varies from program to program. Most massage internship programs do not compensate financially.

It is important that you remain vigilant throughout your internship program period. An internship is not just a requirement, it is also a glimpse of the industry that you are about to step into. Don’t worry about the pay, focus on the quality of the experience you are about to get. This is far more invaluable than any paycheck you can earn.

Contact the top massage schools near you and learn about their internship program. Ask them how they can help you get one while you are in school. Requesting information is 100% free when you use our database below.

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+

4 comments on “Where and How to Get an Internship in Massage Therapy and Why It is Necessary
  1. SONIA BELL says:

    Massage Therapy students needed for a beach soccer event on June 11 and 12 in Santa Cruz. The student will receive internship hours for working with Avanti Sports Medicine & Fitness on this sporting event.

    Shifts are available between:

    June 11: 10-5
    June 12: 9-4

    Please contact our office if you are interested in working the event.


    Sonia Bell, MD
    PMR/Sports Medicine
    Avanti Sports Medicine & Fitness

  2. Sabrina Baird says:

    Hello, my name is Sabrina. I will be entering my senior year in high school and I am looking for an internship in some different fields of study that I am interested in. I was curious to know if anyone has any open massage therapy internships that would be available near the draper/sandy Utah area. I am very responsible, a quick learner and a hard worker. Any offers would be appreciated! Thanks

  3. Monique says:

    I will be looking for internship in Rhode Island come November/December of 2016. My program at S.A.M.A.; the Newport Massage School begins in September. I am learning Ayurvedic bodywork with my program as well. If anyone is interested in having me on board, please respond to this post. Thank you

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