Massage Therapy Degree Information
Massage therapy programs vary state by state, but most programs require a unit of study plus hands-on experience to become licensed or certified. Although you can take classes for massage therapy online, many distance learning massage therapy programs also require hands on classes at least once a week. Some of the training you'll receive to become proficient as an LMT will include classes in:
- Diet and nutrition
- Muscle knowledge
- Stress reduction
- Breath work
- Physical therapy
Online Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) Certification
To become a licensed massage therapist, you can enroll in a post-secondary certification program online. You will need a high school diploma or GED to apply for admission into the program. It can also be helpful (but not required) if you have previously completed some science or business classes. You can complete many of the essential classes online, but keep in mind that hands-on experience will also be required. Students can enter a full or part-time program and may choose to focus on a specific massage specialty.
Although programs for massage therapy will vary widely by state, most programs require around 500 hours of study and experience. Massage therapy programs include subjects such as physiology, kinesiology, business management and ethics. Students must also complete a required number of hours of hands-on practice offline.
Many states require aspiring massage therapists to obtain certifications, licenses and pass exams. That's why the certificate or degree is usually received from a two year accredited massage therapist program. There may be a fee for the exam as well as a fee and requirements for license renewal. Check the legal requirements for the state in which you intend to practice for detailed information. A list of states that regulate massage therapy is available at American Massage Therapy Association
Massage Therapy FAQs
What does a massage therapist do?
A massage therapist manipulates and relaxes muscles and soft body tissues to ease pain, decrease stress, relax their patients and treat certain injuries. They generally use their hands and arms for the massage, but some therapists also use their feet as massage tools. Some massage therapists will use lotions and oils to aid in the massage. As a massage therapist, you may choose to specialize in a specific type of massage such as sports massage, aromatherapy massage, Shiatsu or a deep-tissue massage. Many therapists also spend time educating their clients on how to stretch, relax and strengthen their own bodies and muscles.
As a massage therapist, you may also need to run the business side of your practice. If you work out of your home or in a private setting, you will need to market your own business, answer phone calls, make appointments, track patient progress, pay bills, complete paperwork and more.
What is the earning potential for a Licensed Massage Therapist?
Income for most massage therapists usually comes from a combination of wages and tips. According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2010, the median annual wage for a massage therapist was $34,900. This may seem low, but keep in mind that many massage therapists do not keep full time hours and usually work by appointment only. Once you have an established practice, your potential income may be much higher.
What can I do with a certification in massage therapy?
The majority of massage therapists are self-employed, but some work as employees in the healthcare industries such as chiropractors' offices, hospitals and fitness centers. Other locations for massage therapy include hotels and motels, spas, resorts, cruise ships and shopping malls. There are also many massage therapists who choose to provide services out of their own home or by traveling to their clients' homes.
What is the typical work schedule for a massage therapist?
Work schedules for massage therapists can vary greatly depending on whether the job is full or part time. According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010, only about 25 percent of all massage therapists worked full time. Furthermore, if you choose to be self-employed as a therapist, you can set your own hours to fit your lifestyle. You may choose to be available a certain number of hours during the day or by appointment only.