Massage Therapy Careers


Massage therapy careers vary a great deal from one to another and can offer flexibility in hours and in lifestyle. As a massage therapist, you can work in a number of different settings, depending on your training and interests. Many massage therapists work in more than one location. Here are some of your options.

Massage Therapy Careers at Spas and Spa Franchises

Spas are the number one employer of massage therapists. They offer a soothing and often luxurious environment. When you work at a spa, you will often perform other spa treatments in addition to massage. If you enjoy this kind of work, it can offer variety as well as give your hands a welcome break from massage.

Although spas usually want to train you to do body treatments their own way, it is still a good idea to take some classes before applying at a spa to give yourself an edge. Spa treatment classes are offered as part of the curriculum at some massage schools as well as being offered as continuing education courses.

Some examples of spa treatments are hot stone massage therapy, body wraps, salt scrubs, mud and seaweed treatments, aromatherapy, ayurvedic treatments and hydrotherapy.

Massage Therapy Careers at Wellness Centers

Wellness Centers are groups of health care professionals who offer treatments for the mind, body and spirit. You might find an acupuncturist, chiropractor, naturopath, physical therapist, personal trainer, life coach, natural dentist, nutritionist or others. There may also be health club and spa facilities that offer yoga, tai chi, qigong and other fitness classes.

Working in a Wellness Center can present opportunities to learn from other health care professionals as well as to exchange referrals. Some Wellness Centers focus on complementary and alternative healing while others may be more oriented towards western medicine.

Massage Therapy Careers at a Massage Group Practice

A Massage Group Practice, also called a Massage Clinic employs a number of massage therapists. These practices vary in structure. You could be hired as an employee or an independent contractor by the business owner who could also be a massage therapist.

In another structure, you combine your resources with other massage therapists to lease office space and share common business expenses such as office furnishings and equipment, cleaning, laundry, and marketing. If the practice is profitable enough, it could also employ an office manager, receptionist and bookkeeper.

Massage Therapy Careers at Medical and Clinical Settings

There are a number of medical settings that hire massage therapists. You could work in a hospital or clinic, chiropractic or naturopathic office, physical therapy center, long-term care facility or hospice. Centers that treat specialty populations, such as cancer patients, are another possibility.

If you are interested in this type or work environment, you may want to go to a school that emphasizes the types of massage therapy that are used to treat injuries.

Pay close attention to these classes and topics: anatomy, physiology, pathology, insurance billing, assessment techniques, SOAP forms and record keeping, medical terminology and conditions, contraindications and implications of prescription medications for massage.

Massage Therapy Careers in Sports and Fitness Settings

Is your goal to work with athletes? There are a number of settings you can work in. Sports Massage is offered on-site at athletic events and at Health Clubs and Fitness Centers. It is also offered in Spas and Medical settings.

Most people are aware that professional athletes like golfers and football players employ massage therapists. However, college and high school and even junior high school athletes also get massage therapy. You could work for a team or for individual athletes.

Massage Therapy Careers in On-Site Chair or Table Massage

Some massage therapists specialize in chair massage, also called seated massage. Since chair massage is done fully clothed, it can be offered in public places. It is a great de-stressor and work related problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome can be addressed. Some corporations offer on-site seated or table massage to their employees as a benefit and to reduce work related injury claims.

You've probably seen chair massage offered in various public places such as at airports, malls and street fairs. The possible locations to offer your services are limited only by your imagination. However, be sure to check local laws before setting up your chair for business!

Start a Private Practice

Massage therapists who learn to successfully run their own business often make more money than those who are employees. Over half of massage therapists are self employed. Starting your own private practice offers flexible hours and the option of offering customized treatments that are not limited by your employer. You also have the freedom to choose the client group with whom you wish to work.

As a private practitioner, you can lease office space, work out of your home or specialize in outcall massage. You will be responsible for all your own expenses and must learn the laws that apply to your massage practice. For example, some localities do not allow you to work on clients in your home.

Although massage schools may provide some basic information on starting a business, it is really out of their scope to give you a complete business education. You will need to learn business skills such as marketing, bookkeeping, client retention and how to run an office. Consider taking a business class at a local college. There are many good books that can help you as well. You will need to become both a massage therapist and an entrepreneur!

Massage Therapy Careers on Cruise Ships

Are you the adventurous sort with no obligations to tie you down? Take to the high seas! Travel to exotic locations, meet a lot of people and eat gourmet food. Work VERY long shifts up to 12 hours per day!

If this appeals to you, make sure you are fit enough to work the number of hours of massage that will be required. Check with the cruise line for details. Cruise ship compensation for massage therapists usually includes room and board, health insurance and cruise benefits in addition to your salary.

Massage Careers in Animal Massage Therapy

Equine massage therapy and canine massage therapy have grown in popularity in recent years. Some massage therapists do animal massage therapy exclusively, while others add it as a side line to their human massage practice.

Equine massage therapy tends to be more specialized and can be part of an equine rehabilitation program for horse athletes, such as race horses and show horses.

You can work with horses, dogs, cats and other animals in a veterinary clinic or within your own private practice. Individual stables, ranches or kennels may also be a source of work. Be prepared to do outcall work in this field, especially for equine massage.