Last Updated on August 28, 2023
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5 STEPS TO BECOMING A LICENSED MASSAGE THERAPIST
How many people can truthfully say they love their career? Well, most Massage Therapists tend to say they do. The career boasts below-average stress levels and above-average flexibility, according to U.S. News’ “Best Jobs Rankings.” Massage Therapists can work from home, in salons, spas, high-end resorts, and even cruise ships.
If you’re considering becoming a Massage Therapist but you’re not sure where to start, read these five steps to get a better idea of what you’ll need to do.
1. LEARN ABOUT THE CAREER AND ESTABLISH GOALS
Massage Therapy is a great career path, but there are some important choices to make before entering the field. You don’t have to have it all figured out beforehand, but it’s important to have goals.
Start by asking yourself what type of massage would you like to learn. There are dozens of different modalities—including deep tissue, sports, Swedish and trigger point. Most Massage Therapists practice several, but only specialize in a few. Typically, you’ll learn many different styles during a Massage Therapy training program, so you don’t have to know yet.
Then, ask yourself if you want to work as a solo practitioner, or for an established spa or massage business? While many Massage Therapists are self-employed, most began their careers as an employee for a couple of years. If you have aspirations of starting your own business, you’ll want to pick a career training program that emphasizes entrepreneurship.
Start considering these options before you enter a program so you can make sure you’ll learn what you need to achieve your goals.
2. COMPLETE A THERAPEUTIC MASSAGE PROGRAM
If you have a high school diploma and an interest in massage, you’re qualified to enter a Massage Therapy program. Typically, a diploma in Massage Therapy takes around 15 months and can be completed at a vocational or career training college.
At IBMC College, the Therapeutic Massage diploma program can be completed in as little as 10 months. That’s because the college is career-focused and doesn’t require “fluff” classes that don’t relate to Massage Therapy. Students can skip the extra courses in unrelated subjects required by many community colleges.
Your program of study should include courses like anatomy and physiology, therapeutic massage, and clinical massage applications. Be sure to ask your admissions representative what classes are required for graduation from the program.
3. OBTAIN LICENSURE
Most states regulate massage, and many others are following suit. In Colorado, licensed Massage Therapists are required to have 500 hours of training from a board-approved Massage Therapy school. That means you’ll need to practice massaging real clients in a professional setting. At IBMC College, students are able to work with the public at the college’s on-site Massage Clinic.
Your Therapeutic Massage program must be nationally accredited, and it needs to be approved by the Colorado Division of Private and Occupational Schools. Candidates for licensure are required to pay an application fee to take the licensure exam. When you pass, you’ll be a fully-licensed massage therapist.
4. GET A BUSINESS LICENSE (OPTIONAL)
While this step is optional, you’ll need business licensure if you plan to work as a solo practitioner, which accounts for 67 percent of all practicing therapists, according to the American Massage Therapy Association. If you’d like to work in a spa, healthcare setting or somewhere else as an employee, you can skip this step.
Getting a business license is relatively easy in the state of Colorado. You can register your business with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office by filing online.
5. KEEP LEARNING AND TEACH OTHERS
As in almost any career, the learning never ends. There are so many different techniques and philosophies related to the career that you can add to your professional repertoire, from Swedish massage, to deep tissue, hot stone, Thai, prenatal massage and more. For business owners, there are also things like marketing and customer service that you’ll want to improve upon over the years.
When you become confident and highly-skilled as a Massage Therapist, you may find that you also enjoy teaching others. Take the opportunity to instruct a massage class, or teach the employees at the business you manage or own. Many of IBMC College’s instructors began their careers with training at the college.
THE HARDEST STEP? GETTING STARTED
Massage is a truly rewarding career; It allows for independence, workplace flexibility, and the joy of helping others. Unfortunately, taking the leap can be daunting. Many aspiring Massage Therapists spend months or even years trying to decide if it’s the right fit for them.
Don’t wait—get the information you need to make an informed decision about your Massage Therapy career. Admissions Representatives at IBMC College are knowledgeable in all aspects of the program. They can even help you sit in on a class, take a campus tour, and meet instructors before making the final decision.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Massage Therapist?
Being a massage therapist is an exciting and meaningful career path. Your anatomical knowledge and manual manipulation skills will allow you to make a serious difference in the way your clients feel both physically and emotionally. Massage therapy can be used to alleviate stress, reduce pain and discomfort and even improve a person’s general physical health. Even though a career as a massage therapist might seem like a good fit, you may be wondering how long it would take for you to become one. What are your options after you graduate from a vocational school and are certified? Let’s take a look at how long it will take you to complete your massage school training and some of the things it will take for you to have a long, successful career as a massage therapist.
How Long Will It Take to Complete Your Training?
Your massage school education is by far the most crucial component of your career success as a massage therapist. Without it you will have no authority or credibility without some kind of formal training and certification. So, you will need to find and enroll in a massage school program. The good news is that the training to become a massage therapist is extremely reasonable, particularly compared to many other professions dealing with health and wellness.
Massage therapy licensing is obtained through vocational school programs. Vocational training has a more limited scope than traditional degrees and the curriculum focuses exclusively on the job and the industry in question. This means that instead of needing a four-year degree to begin working in the industry, you could easily have your certified training completed in as little as 5 months if attending full-time. But exactly how long will it take for you to finish your necessary schooling?
How Long is Massage Therapy School
Massage therapy school can take as little as 5 months to complete, but choosing a school is not always a simple one. All legitimate massage therapy programs will give you the tools you need to get started, but there can be a lot of variation in things like teaching style, the kind of classwork and learning atmosphere that can all have an effect on the speed you learn. These factors will affect different people to varying degrees. It is important that you are aware of what helps you learn, what inhibits your learning so that you can choose a program that will give you the best possible learning experience. You should also learn what you can about any massage school instructors involved with the program. This way you can get an idea of whether or not the program you are considering has experienced, expert massage school instructors for you to learn from. If you choose a good program with qualified and enthusiastic instruction, your chances of timely success through that program are extremely high.
Finding a Massage Therapy Program That Works for You
Life is chaotic for all of us in different ways. As strong as your desire may be to learn and achieve your goals there are other things that demand your time, energy, attention and money. Having the time to dedicate to your massage school education is vital. Luckily, becoming a massage therapist requires much less education time than many other academic and vocational fields. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have to make an effort.
Determine your availability by taking an honest look at the demands of your life. Less demanding programs can give you a bit of flexibility in terms of class schedule and program pacing. It is important to get all your options and info from a representative or adviser from the training program you are considering before you make a final decision. Whatever program and certification schedule you decide is right for you, make sure that you are willing and able to set aside the time to complete it.
How Dedicated Are You to Becoming a Massage Therapist?
You can spend all day at school and not learn one single thing if you aren’t there to learn. Being a massage therapist doesn’t take a lot of time, but it does require a sincere dedication to be any good at being a massage therapist. If you are unwilling to participate in the learning process and engage with your massage school instructors in a meaningful way it could mean setbacks in your education. As a massage therapist you will be dealing with aspects of health and wellness in a very direct way. How you do (or don’t do) your job can have a far reaching and long-lasting effect on someone’s physical and mental comfort. It is imperative that you take your education seriously, or your instructors may require a delay in your certification.
How Long Will It Take to Become Successful in The Field?
Obtaining your certification is a much need step in becoming a massage therapist, but it is truly only the first step of many on your way to a meaningful and fulfilling new career. Once you have completed your massage therapy training you will have to make decisions about what you want the future of your career to look like. Are you hoping to get hired as a massage therapist in a spa? Do you have plans to be an independent, private massage therapist? Are you hoping to endorse or market products through your massage therapy?
No matter what direction you plan on taking after your massage school education there are going to be factors that you need to consider outside of your qualifications to determine the timeline of your success. The timing and success level of your career within the industry depends on the right market climate and the level of commitment to success you have as a massage therapist.
Know Your Local Market
One of the more practical points of success is knowing about the massage market in your area. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to do an in-depth analysis on your local consumer statistics. It simply means having a reasonable idea about what massage looks like in your area. For example, some ideas you may consider about the are:
- When you search massage therapy, are there a lot of spas?
- What kind of spas are they?
- Can you think of a group of people who could benefit from massage that don’t have easy access to it?
- Are you hoping to score an exclusive or elite client base? If so, what does your area offer in terms of those kinds of clients?
- Is there a natural wellness collective that might be a good fit?
- Are there other compatible services or products in your community that might give you networking and referral access?
Knowing a little bit about where you are will help you make decisions about everything from marketing strategy to where you want to apply, depending on your specific, personal career goals.
Level of Experience
Depending on what your ultimate goals are as a massage therapist, there may be a certain level of experience and time in the field necessary to achieve those goals. For example, you may have the ultimate goal of becoming the massage therapist to celebrities and athletes, but you will need to gain experience and build your reputation before you can hope to gain proximity to those clients.
Likewise, a certain amount of traditional spa experience can help get you on your feet as a general independent massage therapist. It allows you to get an idea of what you do and don’t like about various procedures and protocols within the industry so that you can make decisions about what you want to do with your practice. It also gives you the opportunity to gain experience with a wide range of clients without having to stress about promotion. So, if your goal goes beyond entry level massage therapy, you will likely need at least some experience in the industry before that success can be achieved.
Degree of Expertise
Professional happiness and financial success look different for different people. If an extremely lucrative career is what you are after you will likely want further training or specialization beyond your initial massage school certification massage therapy training. If you can bring authority to your career by enhancing your mastery of it, you will also be attractive and trustworthy to the clients looking for those services.
In addition, the more services you can confidently offer your massage clients the more opportunities for income you will have. It is also advantageous, in some cases, to become an authority in a specialized massage field.
Continuing Your Education
Being able to offer expanded services to your massage clients safely and reliable will likely mean a boost in revenue, but it also means that you will have to make a continued effort to update your knowledge. Because of the continuous innovation of massage methods, there are new techniques, products and philosophies to continuously learn about.
Staying current on the latest trends will help you better engage with the market and allow you to have an authority that resonates with your massage clients. However, being a knowledgeable expert in your field requires, in most cases, continued or specialized formal training for long term success.
What’s Your Personal Investment?
What you put into something often determines what you get out of it. This is also true when it comes to your career as a massage therapist. The heights of your success will be widely determined by the amount of yourself you are willing to put into your work. Sure, there are financial investments such as massage certification training and any additional licensing and start-up supplies you might need to begin your journey. However, compared to most other careers, these minimal investments are significantly more manageable.
Because of this, it is going to take effort and investment in many areas. You must be willing to make sensible plans and have the dedication to see them through, no matter what your definition of career success might be. You can have the best training and the best opportunities available to a massage therapist, but it won’t matter if you aren’t invested. In the end it will be you who determines your success.