How Much Training Should Massage Therapists Have?

Most adults have had some sort of professional massage therapy in their lifetime, whether it was a 90-minute deep tissue massage with hot stone therapy, or a 10-minute shoulder rub in a chair at the airport. Massage therapy comes in many different forms, modalities and time durations – but it’s safe to say that most of us have had at least one experience with professional massage.

And if you talk to those who have had multiple experience with massage therapy in different locations, and with different therapist, a definite theme will emerge: Some massage therapy experiences are great, and others not so much. Sometimes we walk away feeling relaxed, de-stressed, loose, and on the path to healing, Other times we feel short-changed, unhappy with the experience, and even worse-off physically than we had been when we came in the door. That’s why people tend to find a good therapist and see them regularly, in order to ensure the health and wellness benefits of therapeutic massage.

When the spectrum of quality is considered in the massage therapy industry, an important question comes to light: How much training should massage therapists have? Is there a broadly accepted standard, or does each school set its own bar in terms of training? After schooling is completed, how much hands-on experience should a therapist have before they start giving treatments in professional settings?

The answer is that each state will have their own testing standards to certify graduates of massage therapy schools for professional work. There are, however, generally accepted standards that come up again and again.

If you’re a student looking for legitimate massage therapy schools in your area, it’s a good policy to look for schools that exceed minimum requirements, provide hand-on training with real patients during the coursework, and prepare their students to thrive in the real world of professional massage therapy.

In New Jersey, for example, top-of-the-line programs require up to 600 hours of training before graduation. A student clinic also offers students the chance to work on real patients as a part of their training, which gives them a much higher level of preparation for entering the massage therapy industry.

People often wonder whether some massage therapists are inherently more “talented” than others – and of course, this may be the case. Some people just have a knack for their profession, while others have to work harder to achieve the same level of service. But regardless of aptitude, all massage therapists should have hundreds of hours of specialized training with reputable and experienced instructors. This is how vital knowledge and techniques are transferred to a new generation of therapists – whether this is your first career out of high school, or whether you’re making a career change later in life. Deciding to become a massage therapist is an exciting moment, but it’s easy to get carried away and rush into a program that doesn’t reach the highest standards. Carefully researching massage therapy schools in your area should reveal which ones consistently equip their students with the tools they need to succeed.