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Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Full Time Massage Therapist?

Posted Apr 07 2010 5:55am

Massage therapy is becoming more and more recognized as a main stream aspect of healthcare around the world. More and more massage therapists are turning their passion for body work into a full time career. But in these economic times when businesses are going bust left and right, do you have what it takes? If you’re a part time massage therapist ready to delve deeper into the field or you’re ready to start a new career entirely, find out if you’re a good fit for the profession.

The Modern Day Massage Therapist

If you’re considering going full time, you’re not alone. You may be surprised to learn that most people start in massage therapy as a part time job, working about 20 hours per week, and from there move into a full time career. A large majority, nearly 85 percent of massage therapists are women and their average age is around 40 years old, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) http://www.amtamassage.org/.

Choose a Fiscally Responsible Specialization

You need to know which massage treatments bring in the most repeat clients. The good old standby, the Swedish Massage is performed the most, on 84 percent of clients, followed by 77 percent deep tissue massage, 49 percent trigger point massage, and 45 percent sport’s massage, according to AMTA. So you would likely need to be versed in these methods to be able to make a go of it.

If You’re Not a Savvy Business Person, It’s Hard to Survive

It’s certainly not a lucrative profession, but you can make it as a massage therapist if you work hard. But you’ll need to focus on always pleasing clients because repeat clients make up the majority of your clientele. Median hourly wages of massage therapists, including gratuities, were $16.78 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $11.36 and $25.14. The highest 10 percent earned more than $33.47. Because many therapists work part time, yearly earnings can vary considerably, depending on the therapist’s schedule, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos295.htm#outlook. Take into account that these statistics are for working about 20 hours per week, so they are a bit on the low side. The better the therapist and the harder you work, the more money you’ll be able to make per year.

Accreditation Separates the Weakest Link

AMTA requires at least 500 hours of classroom instruction from an accredited massage therapy school. Within that 500 hours, you’ll need 300 hours of theory and technique and 200 hours of pathology, physiology, and anatomy. It’s important to be certified with the AMTA especially when it comes to building a client base, so it’s crucial to enroll at an accredited institution.

Build Your Business with Part Time Work

Most massage therapists are self-employed and that’s the easiest way to be successful because you don’t have to give a cut of your wages to another business. But you should start by working part time in spas, hospitals, physical therapy centers, hotels, yoga studios, and chiropractors. From there, you can refer business and build a clientele. Joining a professional association is another good way to network and build your business.

So, What’s the Job Outlook?

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos295.htm#outlook, massage therapy is growing as a field but recently certified massage therapists should expect to work only part time until they can build a client base of their own. Employment of massage therapists is expected to increase by 19 percent from 2008 to 2018. But if you’re not self motivated and a self starter willing to seek out clients, it’s hard to make a go of it.

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