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.

5 Bad Habits of Aspiring Massage Therapists

Part of massage therapy is encouraging better habits, both amongst ourselves (the therapists) and patients. Taking better care of our bodies is really the name of the game in massage therapy, and it’s why our industry is getting stronger every year.

That said, there are a number of “bad habits” that often show up amongst massage therapists. We’re not talking about bad physical habits, but bad business habits. Developing the following habits will definitely affect your business in negative way, while getting rid of them can really help things flow.

1. Short-sightedness

Taking your massage therapy certification into the world is a big step, but too many therapists lack vision, and simply enter the industry without much of a plan or sense of where they want to go. Putting the time and effort into a long-term plan, and visualizing where you’d like your career to go, is enormously helpful and lays the groundwork for greater success.

2. Passiveness

When you’re new in the massage therapy industry, it’s easy to think that everything will happen more or less automatically for your business. People need and want professional massage, right? But for any number of reasons, things can move slowly. The economy might take a downturn, or the community in which you’re working just might not seem very responsive. Being proactive — including clever promotions and price adjustments — is necessary for new and aspiring therapists in the business.

3. Not listening to clients

You’re the expert — that’s why the patient is here. But don’t forget to listen (and react) to the client’s needs and concerns. A good massage therapy session is based not only on expertise, but on communication between therapist and client.

4. Forgetting to evolve

Graduating with a certification in massage therapy is exciting. Hundreds of hours of classroom study and hands-on experience have paid off. You’ve got the basic skills to be a certified therapist. But too many therapists stop here, in terms of education. The truth is, massage therapy is a never-ending process of learning and evolving. Even the most advanced practitioners are constantly seeking new knowledge. Graduating with certification in massage therapy is a huge milestone, but it’s really only the beginning.

5. Going it alone

Networking is important in this business — especially if you’re an independent practitioner. Too many independent massage therapists becomes an island unto themselves, and view other therapists in the area as a threat. Taking a synergistic approach, and strengthening bonds with your fellow professionals, will produce infinitely better results over the long term, both personally and professionally!

Where to turn for advice

The best massage therapy certification programs don’t leave their students and graduates to figure out the business side of things on their own. A solid groundwork in the administrative and business side of massage therapy is just as important a the knowledge and techniques that allows us to accomplish an effective treatment. If you’re looking for a program, make sure to find one that gives you a complete set of tools to thrive as a massage therapist.

3 Things to Look for in a Massage Therapy Program

The number of massage therapists across our country is on the rise. As a result, there are also more massage therapy training programs than ever. Depending where you live, there may be dozens of programs in your area that can give you some kind of massage therapy certification. That doesn’t mean, though, that all of the programs are equally valuable to aspiring therapists. When it comes to choosing the right program for you, consider the following three factors that will help you separate the mediocre programs from the excellent ones.

Range of Modalities Taught

There is a wide range of styles and techniques that massage therapists use in their day-to-day work. When choosing a program, you want to ensure that it will provide you with adequate training on a wide variety of massage modalities. While most programs will start with Swedish massage, which is often the most commonly used modality, a qualified massage therapy training program won’t stop there. Make sure to ask any prospective programs about what modalities will be taught, and to what extent.

Alumna Employment Rates

While there are plenty of people who feel passionately about massage therapy and want to learn more for their own enrichment, most individuals will pursue massage therapy training in order to secure a job in the field. If you want to work as a massage therapist once you’re certified, it’s natural to be curious about how difficult or easy it is for graduates of a given program to find work after they’ve completed their training. When researching massage therapy programs, ask for employment statistics for recent graduates. Another good question to ask is if the program has a career services team and what sorts of support is provided in finding employment.

Specialization

Find out what the specialization of a school is before committing to it. There are plenty of schools that solely train students in massage therapy, and others that lump massage together with dozens of other skills and certifications. Although there are exceptions to every rule, in general you should look for a program that specializes in massage therapy above all else. Choosing such a school will often guarantee higher quality instructors and curriculum.

Choosing an Excellent Massage Therapy Program

Whatever you do, don’t jump a massage therapy training program without doing adequate research. While getting certified as a massage therapist can be an enjoyable and enriching professional experience, there are plenty of programs that provide substandard training, or that don’t provide training on all specializations. Choosing a high-quality program will increase your chances of having a positive learning experience and having a good start to your career when you finish school.

Your best bet in getting reliable and unbiased information about massage therapy programs is to ask to be put in touch with recent graduates. Massage therapists who have recently completed a given program will be able to speak to the quality of instruction, the preparation provided, and their ability to find a job upon completion of the training.

4 Big Benefits of Massage Therapy Certification

Anybody who has ever experienced a professional massage knows the difference training makes. That’s not to say that casual shoulder rub from a partner or friend isn’t relaxing — but when you lie down on that table for a professional treatment, you know it’s not the same thing. So why should you consider enrolling in a massage therapy certification course? Here are four big benefits of doing so.

1. Job prospects

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, massage therapists are in greater demand every year. Specifically, a 23 percent increase in gainfully employed massage therapists is expected between 2012 and 2022. Also consider the fact that the number of office jobs is expected to rise continually into the future — massage therapy is becoming more and more relevant on the job market. Being trained in professional massage is reliable professional skill, and will only become more reliable in coming years.

2. Your own practice

Setting yourself up as a certified, licensed massage therapist is the best way to become an independent massage therapist in your area. A lot of professionals appreciate the ability to set their own schedule and build their own client base, while making a name for themselves in the community. Of course, it’s possible to prey on the public and offer massage without the proper training. But this should never be done without proper training and certification — especially if you want your practice to thrive.

3. Diversity of skills

People often don’t realize how in-depth and comprehensive a proper massage therapy certification course should be. Reputable program teach a wide array of techniques and disciplines, including: Myofascial release, reflexology, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone therapy, hydrotherapy, chair massage, trigger points and more. Maybe of the best programs involve up to 600 hours of hands-on training — so when you finish the course, you can expect a broad range of experience and knowledge.

4. Industry insight

A good massage therapy certification course should not only train you to deliver professional treatments in a variety of settings — it should also give you plenty of practical insights and information to prepare you for the business. Did you know that many healthcare programs (and medical professionals) are adding massage therapy to their wellness programs, and recommending therapeutic massage to their patients? Health insurance programs are also covering massage more frequently. Professionals looking to enter or strengthen their presence in the field of massage therapy need an active understanding of how the business is evolving, in addition to all of the necessary technical skill and knowledge.

Choosing the right course

Obviously, not every massage therapy certification is created equal. When you look for a program, focus on those that go deeper into the study of anatomy, physiology and pathology. Having a grounded understanding of the human body is vital to mastering the practice of massage therapy. Also look for programs that offer hands-on clinic time and are dedicated to ethical business practices in the community. It’s also important to know that the certification you receive will meet or exceed the massage therapy certification standards of the State in which you live and intend to practice. Do your homework before you choose a program — you’ll be glad you did!