The Hard and Soft Skills and Characteristics of Successful Massage Therapists

Many students who are aspiring therapists always ask what are the key characteristics of a successful massage therapist.

The reason this question is always asked is students want to quickly gauge whether they have what it takes from an inherent perspective.

Characteristics are more along the lines of personality traits: you either possess them or you do not. Some characteristics can be learned, honed and developed over time, but many characteristics are those that always remain true to us inherently.

In addition to inherent traits, there are skills, both hard skills and soft skills that a massage therapist needs to learn and develop to succeed in their career. This is a list of some of the more common characteristics and skills that are needed to succeed as a massage therapist.

Inherent Characteristics and Personality Traits

  • Confidence (in yourself and your ability to provide care)
  • Patience (healing can take time)
  • Understanding (the ability to listen and relate to your clients/patients)
  • Compassion
  • Care giving mentality
  • Considerate
  • Spiritual (although not a necessity, we find that many practitioners of massage are spiritual in nature)
  • Calm
  • Curiosity / Willingness to learn
  • Willingness to help

These are mostly attributes that are unique and inherent to you. You either have them or you do not. While some of these (for example the willingness to learn) can be developed and honed, others such as the characteristic of compassion and understanding are more difficult to forcefully learn.

What are the Hard Skills Required to be a Successful Massage Therapist

  • Networking (necessary for career growth)
  • Physical strength (massage therapy is a physically demanding profession)
  • The ability to be In-tune with the body (both your body and your patient)
  • Business savvy (if interested in owning your own business)

These are hard or tangible attributes that can be learned and developed over time.

What are the Key Soft Skills Required to be a Successful Massage Therapist?

  • Communication / conversationalist
  • Sense of humor
  • Good listener

These are some less tangible (soft skills) that can also be learned and developed over time.

Some of these attributes can be placed under more than one or all categories. We have placed them where we feel they best fit, but certainly don’t get too tied up in the appropriateness of the classification. Rather, focus on the attributes and determine whether you have them or need to develop them.

This list is not a comprehensive list by any means. However, these are some of the more common characteristics and skills that we find in successful massage therapists.

You don’t need to possess or develop each and every one of these, but the more of these you can check off the more success we feel you will have in your career as a massage therapist.

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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