How to Become a Massage Therapist

How to become a licensed massage therapist

By Justin Simonson

The flexible work schedule and satisfaction that comes from helping others feel good makes a career as a massage therapist fulfilling for many. The massage therapy industry is growing, with an expected job increase of 20 percent (30,900 jobs) between 2010-2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Interested? Learn more about how to become a massage therapist.

Massage Therapy Degree or Diploma

We’ve all heard how important it is to stand out from other job seekers, and in the massage therapy career field, a higher education program is a great way to do so. Many colleges offer massage therapy programs in the form of diploma or associate degrees. A massage therapy degree provides you both the clinical and professional skills needed for a job in the field. Students enrolled in a massage therapy program generally experience hands-on learning, working with real clients. This creates the potential to graduate with a list of clients already in place.

Most massage therapy programs also help prepare students for licensing or certification options or requirements for their location.

Massage Therapy Licensing

Massage therapy licensing requirements vary by state, making it important to do your research. Some states may only require a license for particular types of massage techniques. Use this list of licensing requirements, courtesy of the American Massage Therapy Association, to determine your state’s requirements. While some states do not have licensing requirements at all, individual cities or counties may.

Licensing requirements generally consist of a number of hours of training and exams. Regardless if your state, city or county requires you to obtain a license, you’re going to want to complete some sort of formal training. Clients are going to trust massage therapists who have the credentials to back up their skills.

Massage Therapy Certification

As with licensing, massage therapy certification is required in some states but creates an opportunity for massage therapists to hone and showcase their expertise. Massage therapy certifications are offered through a variety of industry organizations, including the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and the American Massage Therapy Association.

Obtaining a massage therapy certification usually involves completing a number of hours of training and proof of licensure (if it is required in your area.)

Massage Therapy Specialization

Massage therapy specialization is another way for massage therapists to differentiate themselves from competitors. Receiving additional training not only adds to your resume, but it also allows you to carve out a niche of clients. If you have a passion for a certain massage technique, specialization is a smart step to take.

Specializations to consider include:

  • Acupressure
  • Clinical massage
  • Prenatal massage
  • Sports massage
  • Swedish massage

If you’re considering massage therapy as a career, these topics are important to focus on. The additional growth expected in the industry creates great demand for qualified massage therapists to join the field.