How To Become a Professional Massage Therapist

Having body massage

Many people are looking for high paying employment that offers rewarding careers. Some are seeking independence, work schedule flexibility, and better employment environments.  Others simply want jobs that allow traveling, helping animals, or helping other people.  Hence, many individuals consider becoming massage therapists.

However, there are many pros and cons to being a massage therapist.  It is not simply a matter of getting paid to rub someone's back and shoulders. Without proper training, an individual could literally kill another person by giving an improper massage.  No one becomes a highly paid, well-trained massage therapist overnight.  It takes many months of training, as well as many hours of hands-on experience.  Therapists have to know basic physiology and anatomy, record-keeping, and business ethics, as well as have people skills.

Before a person decides to become a professional massage therapist, he or she should consider what it takes.  First, the individual should check into the legal regulations in the area they wish to practice.  Thirty-seven states, as well as Washington, D.C., require state certification, and thirty-three of these require national certification too.  Some cities also have ordinances, so it's highly important for the therapist to know all the laws and regulations on a local, state, and national basis.

Almost every state requires a minimum amount of training and some type of state administered competency exam.  This exam usually consists of two parts, a written and a practical, hands-on section.  In addition, a massage therapist must get re-certified every few years.  This often requires taking continuing education courses.

Once the legalities have been researched, the individual must find an accredited massage therapy school.  The type of desired work location and state requirements will determine what type of training the therapist will need to have.  For instance, those working in a spa or beauty salon will mostly use Swedish, Shiatsu, and Reflexology modalities.  Therapists working with chiropractors and in other medical settings usually utilize Trigger Point, Medical Assessment, Deep Tissue, and Sports massage modalities.

Another important factor to consider is the pay and other employment benefits.  These vary according to location, type of practice, and experience.  In most cases, the therapist spends quite a few hours performing other tasks, as well.  These tasks include accounting, record-keeping, appointment setting, requisitioning supplies, housekeeping, and self-promoting chores.  In some practices, a therapist will need to have reliable transportation and good map reading skills.

The pros of being a massage therapist are the flexible work schedule, the diversity of clientele, and the wide range of work available. Another pro is that the therapist is helping others while helping him or herself.   The cons are the expenses and time involved in attaining and maintaining the proper training and certification.  Another con is doing the many tasks unrelated to giving massages.


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