How Long Does it Take to Become a Massage Therapist?

We live in a world of convenience. It seems like every device, service, and new technology is geared toward making our lives less complicated and more efficient. Information is coming at us 24 hours a day, to the point where it is impossible to absorb everything. That’s just the nature of modern life. Sometimes it’s more about filtering the information we don’t need rather than seeking the information we do need.

So what does this have to do with being a massage therapist? In this age of constant information and speed, people want to get things done as quickly as possible. When you think about completing a new task or reaching for a new goal, you immediately think about how long it is going to take, how much money it’s going to cost, and what kind of effort you’re going to have to put in. This is only natural because he gives you a realistic idea of what it will take to reach a goal.

In terms of being a massage therapist, people often wonder what kind of commitment is necessary to fulfill the licensing requirements for a practicing massage therapist, and how quickly they might be able to start along the path of offering professional massage therapy treatments in the real world.

The answer varies from state to state and from program to program, but 600 hours of training is a good benchmark for what it actually takes to acquire the knowledge and techniques of professional massage therapy.

Does 600 hours seem like a long time? It actually is a long time — that’s because there is a big difference between professional massage therapy and simply knowing a few massage techniques. Certification in professional massage therapy is going to give you a wide range of practical knowledge, including a working knowledge of various types of massage, including: Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, prenatal massage, chair massage, energy work, hydrotherapy, reflexology, trigger points, myofascial release, and more.

It’s also going to give you a blend of classroom and real world experience. No massage therapist should be certified and licensed to practice without a substantial amount of experience treating actual patients in the field. Another thing the coursework is going to give you is practical knowledge of how to run a massage therapy business in the real world, and what it takes from an administrative standpoint.

Completing the requisite hours and earning a massage therapy certification will take different amounts of time, depending on how intensive your program happens to be. A common setup is to complete about 4 classroom hours per week, plus one or two weekend workshops per month. With a schedule like this, massage therapy programs often wrap up after 9 or 10 months of study.

One thing is for certain: Massage therapy isn’t one of those “quick” professions you can simply learn in a few hours, get your certificate and be on your way. It takes a strong commitment and dedication to learning the craft in a comprehensive way — that’s the only way to ensure you’ll have the knowledge and skills you need when it comes time to treat patients out there in the real world!

Why Continuing Education is Important for Massage Therapists

Striving for an academic milestone is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in life, no matter what your field of study. In the case of massage therapy, completing a reputable certification course means that you’re finally able to embark on the journey of being an active massage therapist in the real world. Getting out of the classroom and actually treating clients is an amazing prospect for students, as it represents the culmination of countless hours of training and study.

Once you’re out in the field (whether you’re working independently or as part of a team), there’s no doubt that experience is a great teacher. In fact, there’s no replacement for experience when it comes to treating clients in the real world. Every client is different, with unique physiological needs and preferences. The only way to get better at meeting these individual challenges is to accumulate real-world experience, gradually learning what works and what doesn’t. Eventually, your instincts and skills as a massage therapist grow and evolve — and clients can tell the difference it makes.

But experience itself — important though it may be — is not enough to make you the very best therapist you can be. In order to succeed and thrive over the long term, another ingredient is necessary: Continuing education.

The best way of understanding this necessity is to understand massage therapy not as a perfectly established or understood discipline, but as an ever-evolving practice with an endless number of personal styles and areas of focus. There are aspects of massage therapy we all have to learn in order to form a bedrock of knowledge and technique — but once that bedrock has been formed, the need for new knowledge continues.

One of the strongest signs of a quality massage therapy program is, of course, the intensiveness of the training. When you end up with hundreds of hours of classroom study, in addition to a having a great deal of field experience as a part of your training, you’re in a good position to enter the field upon graduation. But another great sign of a quality program is the emphasis on continuing education throughout your career.

Finding a good place to focus on continuing education — every year, if possible — is important. It allows you the chance to brush up your old skills, learn new perspectives, and develop a more integrated approach to your massage therapy work.

So where do you go for quality continuing education in the field of massage therapy? If you attended a reputable school for your certification, you might look there first. Many programs offer continuing education programs specifically for past graduates and established therapists, as a way to stay in touch with the latest knowledge and keep your practice moving forward.

It’s tempting to think that you can earn your massage therapy certification and rely on experience for the rest — after all, you’re earning a living at the same time. Continuing education, on the other hand, might require an investment from you. But the returns on that investment will almost certainly be worthwhile as you move forward on your journey as a professional therapist.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Certified Massage Therapist?

We live in a fast-paced world — there’s just no two ways about it. People today have more information than ever, and sometimes it seems we also have less time. These factors effect virtually every facet of life, including the educational decisions we make. Recent studies and statistics about student loans and college tuitions have been fast and furious in recent years. People are questioning the time and money they put into various educational programs, and weighing the disadvantages against the benefits. How much it’s going to cost, and how long it’s going to take, are important deciding factors in deciding what kinds of educational programs to pursue.

Massage therapy has emerged as a more viable option than ever for these reason. It’s generally a program that you can get through in less than a year, and the cost is extremely low when compared to something like a liberal arts degree.

And what about the career prospects? Newly certified massage therapists are able to start work almost immediately, whether they’re hired by a spa or massage therapy studio, or deciding to go into business on their own. That’s one of the things we’re hearing more and more in the news lately: Specific trades like massage therapy offer real job prospects and long-term career possibilities right out of the gate, whereas something like a liberal arts degree can be much more difficult to pin down, in terms of long-term economic value.

But let’s back up a minute. Can you actually become a certified massage therapist in less than one year?

The answer is yes — and that’s assuming the program you choose is highly reputable. 600 hours is a good benchmark for education in massage therapy, and schools that offer 600 hour programs usually offer flexible nighttime and daytime options for meeting these requirements. In many programs, enrolling in the fall will have you graduating near the beginning of summer. That means you can be working as a fully trained massage therapist less than one year after starting school — and as many therapists will tell you, the money and career prospects are real. Professional satisfaction and fulfillment also scores high amongst massage therapists.

Well-rounded training

It’s important to realize, however, that choosing your massage therapy certification program is a very important moment. This is the moment when you’ll decide whether to learn from a highly reputable program with a range of modalities, including classroom instruction and supervised field work — or whether you’ll end up in a less reputable program that doesn’t offer the same comprehensive standards of training.

To make sure you find the right program for you, talk to past-graduates and asking the school itself plenty of questions. This is a great way to get a fuller idea of what the school offers and what you can expect as a student and a graduate. There are a lot of massage therapy schools out there, but they’re not all going to give you the same blend of technical and business-related preparation to actually work as a massage therapist in the real world.

3 Common Complaints Against Massage Therapists

As professional massage therapists, we meet a lot of different people. If you’re interested in working as a massage therapist, or if you’ve recently been educated and certified in massage therapy, you’ll find that working with people is a vital part of running a good business. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that people skills have a direct impact on your ability to do well in your practice, whether you’re working solo or part of a team.

1. Too much pressure or not enough

This is the complaint massage therapists hear most often, but there are also a surprising number of cases in which they don’t actually hear about it (even though the complaint exists). People are sometimes reticent to talk directly to the therapist about pressure that’s too firm or not firm enough. Instead, they’ll complain to others after the fact, and/or take their business elsewhere. Actively seeking feedback on the pressure is a good way to do this, since patients are more likely to answer honestly when prompted. The other thing to point out is good, honest training. When you’ve been through a quality massage therapy program with abundant hours of classroom instruction and hands-on practice, your ability to find the right pressure for different patients and different needs is much greater.

2. Smoke, perfume and other odors

Because massage is such a personal experience, with a great deal of physical closeness between therapist and patient, it’s important to pay close attention to odors or fragrances that might cling to clothing or linger in the treatment room. If you’re a smoker (and we hope you aren’t), this can cause a fair bit of discomfort to your patients, and take away from the sense of professionalism. Perfumes and other strong odors should also be avoided. In general massage therapy should only involve natural and unobtrusive fragrances, such as natural essential oils.

3. Lack of focus

This is often a “nebulous” complaint that manifests itself in other ways, including insufficient pressure, or taking time out of the client’s treatment to answer a phone call or use the restroom. Clients are going to think more highly of you and your practice when you stay focus and present throughout the entire duration of the treatment. Being able to do this — especially if you have a full day of treatments to get through — can be challenging. It takes a professional attitude and a good deal of endurance. Legitimate massage therapy schools will address this and many other practical issues involved in being a top-level massage therapist.

Getting to the next level

Massage therapy can be a tough trade — but it’s also one of the most rewarding out there. Being consistent and successful as a practitioner of massage therapy takes practice, patience, and a careful study of common mistakes. If you’re thinking of enrolling in a massage therapy certification program, make sure it’s one that covers all aspects of the business, and gives you the technical as well as the practical skills you need to thrive in the long term.