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Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Massage Therapist

Posted Wednesday, Mar 17, 2021 by Altierus

Interested in pursuing a career that doesn’t take years to train for, supports the well-being of others and gives you the option of going into business for yourself? Massage therapy training could be right for you. This page covers some of the most frequently-asked questions we receive about training for—and working as—a massage therapist.

Duties of a Massage Therapist

What does a massage therapist do?

Massage therapists help clients with pain relief, stress relief, and mobility. They do this by manipulating clients’ muscles and other soft tissues through touch.

What kinds of massage are there?

There are a number of different types of massage therapy. The most popular are:

  • Swedish massage
  • Lymphatic drainage massage
  • Deep-tissue or “trigger-point” massage
  • Myofascial release
  • Sports massage
  • Prenatal massage
  • Thai massage

Altierus Career College massage therapy students learn a variety of massage therapy techniques to equip them for a broad range of career opportunities. You can learn more about the types of massage therapy in our article, “What Are the Different Massage Therapy Styles?”

Where do massage therapists work?

Massage therapists can work in a variety of settings. These include:

  • Spas, salons, and other personal care services providers
  • Resorts, hotels, and cruise ships
  • Hospitals and long-term care centers
  • Chiropractic practices
  • Physical therapist practices
  • Gyms and professional sports training facilities

Many massage therapists also work for themselves, traveling to treat clients or offering services from their homes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 35% of massage therapists were self-employed in 2019.[i]

How to Become a Massage Therapist

How long does it take to become a massage therapist?

At Altierus Career College, you can complete our massage therapy diploma program in as few as nine months. The program combines online and on-campus classroom instruction, hands-on training, and clinical experience at our on-campus facility. Students learn massage therapy techniques as well as skills and knowledge for managing the business aspects of a massage therapy career.

What do you need to know before becoming a massage therapist?

To apply to a massage therapist training program, you should have a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification (such as a GED).

What skills does a massage therapist need?

Massage therapists should have the physical strength and stamina needed to spend several hours a day giving massages. They need a solid understanding of anatomy and physiology, common conditions or injuries people seek massage for, and how to apply massage techniques to address different conditions or needs.

Massage therapists should enjoy spending time with people and have a calming, upbeat manner with clients. A massage is a very personal experience, so therapists must also have excellent communication skills and be capable of building and maintaining trust with their clients.

Does a massage therapist need a degree?

You don’t need a degree to become a massage therapist, but you do need post-secondary training and a license. Most states require massage therapists to have a diploma. Altierus Career College offers a nine-month massage therapist diploma program to our students in Florida.

Does a massage therapist need a license?

Yes, the majority of U.S. states require massage therapists to obtain a license to practice. According to the Associated Massage and Bodywork Professionals (AMBP) 43 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico all require licensure for massage therapists.

Altierus massage therapy students receive preparation for the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. Successfully passing the MBLEx is part of the requirements for obtaining massage therapy licensure in Florida.

Benefits of a Massage Therapist Career

How much does a massage therapist make?

Nationwide, the BLS reports that the median annual salary for massage therapists was $42,820 in May 2019. The bottom 10% of massage therapists earned less than $21,810, while the top 10% of earners made more than $80,630.[ii]

Note that the salary a massage therapist can make will vary with the employer and the local job market. Altierus offers its massage therapy diploma program in Florida, where massage therapist salaries were as follows:

What a Massage Therapist Earns in Florida (May 2019)[iii]

  • Median: $38,500
  • Bottom 10%: $19,610 or less
  • Top 10%: $92,400 or more

What are some pros and cons of a massage therapy career?

Pros: A career in massage therapy offers you the opportunity to promote physical and emotional well-being. It’s an active career in which you can meet many different people. In addition, a wide variety of employers hire massage therapists, and you also have the option to be your own boss through self-employment.

Cons: Because massage therapy is a physically demanding career, it is possible to sustain overuse injuries, especially in the hands, arms, and shoulders. Also, massage therapists who are self-employed will have additional paperwork and bookkeeping requirements. They will also need to carry out marketing and business development in order to build up a regular clientele.

Is becoming a massage therapist worth it?

Yes! Becoming a massage therapist is a great way to (ahem) touch people’s lives. You have the opportunity to shape your career through self-employment, and you can also pursue direct employment at a wide range of clinical or personal care facilities, from hospitals to upscale spas.

Plus, job opportunities for massage therapists look set to grow over the next decade. The BLS projects that jobs across the entire economy will grow by 4% over the 2019-2029 period. For massage therapists, the projected growth rate is 21%—more than five times as fast.[iv]

Learn More About Becoming a Massage Therapist

Request more information about Altierus Career College’s massage therapist diploma program in Tampa today!


[i] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm#tab-3

[ii] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm#tab-5

[iii] https://www.onetonline.org/link/localwages/31-9011.00?st=FL&g=Go

[iv] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm#tab-6

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