Massage Therapy Career Information
Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you will ever make, so it's important to do your career homework before you go back to school. The following overview is a great place to start, and we are happy to provide additional career information upon your request.
The massage industry
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) estimates that in 2010 massage therapy was a $12 to17 billion industry, and that 48 million Americans (18 percent) received at least one massage during that time.
Though massage is one of the world's oldest and most common healing arts, modern-day massage therapy is becoming increasingly mainstream for a variety of reasons. For example:
Massage is an excellent treatment for stress, which is epidemic
The massage industry has grown in spite of—or perhaps because of—tough economic times in the United States.
Millions of Americans are under tremendous stress, due to the economic and job conditions. While many cannot afford an annual two-week tropical vacation to recover from that stress, they can afford to manage it with one $50 massage a month.
This trend has created opportunity for fast-growing franchises—including Massage Envy (with more than 600 nationwide locations and over 800,000 monthly members), Elements Therapeutic Massage, Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa, and Woodhouse Day Spa—which have made massage more convenient, affordable and common than ever, thereby increasing opportunity for massage professionals.
Massage contributes an important role to health care
Massage therapy's growth has also been fueled by increased acceptance by America's second-largest employment segment – the healthcare industry. Like doctor's, nurses and physical therapists, massage therapists are state-registered professionals trained in anatomy, physiology, pathology and medical terminology.
The healthcare industry's appreciation of massage has been bolstered by a growing body of scientific studies from researchers at leading universities, which provide further evidence of the health benefits of massage. (To learn more, visit the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami.)
Healthcare reform has been a major topic in the United States recently. While no one knows yet what's going to result from government healthcare reform, many individuals and employers are taking preventative health more seriously, as it's more cost effective to reduce stress and boost the immune system with massage, than it is to treat illness with surgery and pharmaceuticals.
In particular, the Baby Boomer generation is concerned with preventative health and aging gracefully, as they enter their mid-sixties at a staggering rate of 10,000 individuals per day. Accordingly, many of the 76 million members of this massive generation invest regularly in massage.
“Employment of massage therapists is expected to increase by 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment will grow as more people learn about the benefits of massage therapy.”
U.S. Department of Labor
Careers in massage therapy
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) estimates there are approximately 300,000 massage therapists and massage students in the United States. As you've seen, massage therapy is a healthy industry, but why do so many people choose careers in massage therapy? A few reasons include:
Massage careers offer unbeatable flexibility, so you can stay passionate throughout your career
As a massage therapist you can work part time or full time in a wide variety of worldwide settings, including doctor's offices, hospitals, spas, health clubs, resorts and cruise ships. You have the freedom to work for yourself, work for others, or do both. A massage career may also lead you to managing others, or even to teaching massage. Many therapists practice another form of bodywork, or use massage earnings to supplement their income from another job.
“Approximately 57 percent of massage therapists are self employed.”
U.S. Department of Labor
In addition to a wide range of employment opportunities and settings, you can serve a wide range of clients as a massage therapist. Every age group from prenatal to neonatal to geriatric can enjoy and benefit from massage therapy. You can help athletes of all levels recover from training or injury, or you can focus on bringing comfort to patients afflicted with cancer or other medical conditions.
Further, there is opportunity and security in the massage field because there is simply no substitute for human touch – so your job won't be replaced by technology.
Massage therapy is a lifestyle career that puts your earning power in your hands
Most people researching careers want to know about earnings. So how much money do massage therapists make? Honestly, the answer depends on who you ask, and who you ask about, as the profession offers so many options.
AMTA reports massage therapists earn “an average wage of $41 an hour (including tips) for all massage related work,” and that in 2010 “the average annual income for a massage therapist (including tips) who provides approximately 15 hours of massage per week was estimated to be $31,980.”
The Occupational Information Network (O*NET), which bills itself as “the nation's primary source of occupational information,” reports median massage income is $34,900 annually.
And Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP), the nation's largest massage association, says annual income for massage therapists ranges from $10,000 up to $60,000 a year, and that that “range is influenced by the experience of the therapists, the area where they practice massage, the number of massages they provide each week, and the terms of their employment or business.”
In other words, massage is like most career fields – how much you make is determined by factors including: what part of the world do you work in, if you work for yourself or others, who your clients are, how much experience you have, and how effective you are at promoting your services. With a massage career, your earning power is literally in your own hands!
It's also important to remember that massage is a lifestyle career that offers many rewards, including helping others, loving what you do, working in a casual environment, enjoying abundant variety, and the ability to work a schedule that allows for more free and family time while earning full time wages.
Massage is not just a career, it's a calling, one that gives you the opportunity to make a difference while making a living. Please contact us to request more information about massage therapy careers. In the meantime, your next question may be, how do you become a massage therapist?