Massage Therapist Careers

Overview and Job Duties

Massage therapists treat painful muscular disorders and alleviate pain in sore and overworked bodies by applying different types of massage techniques to a client. By working only with their hands and elbows, these professionals manipulate soft tissue to relieve pain, reduce stress, rehabilitate injured areas, provide relaxation, and aid in their clients’ general sense of well-being and contentment. If you like working with yourself and helping others at the same time, a career as a massage therapist might be exactly what you need to pursue to succeed in life.

Massage therapists provide services to customers by using their hands and elbows to massage the muscles to produce any number of desired results, whether it’s for relaxation and stress relief or to relieve pain and rehabilitate an injured area of the body. They first meet with their clients to discuss the customer’s precise needs and address any specific questions or concerns the client might have in regards to expectations and therapy in general. After making an assessment of what areas need treatment and how best to proceed, therapists then begin to massage the affected area or areas, often incorporating oils, lotions, heating lamps, and even warm stones into the routine. During or after a session, he or she will educate the client about stretches and exercises the client can do at home to help maintain results between visits.

There are around 80 types of massage techniques; which one or which combination of treatments used depends on the needs and desires of the patient. Because massage therapy is such a varied field, therapists have a choice of specializing in a particular area like deep-tissue massage, sports therapy, orthopedic therapy, Swedish massage, and prenatal massage, among many others.

Job Outlook

As of May 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were 153,700 licensed massage therapists working in the United States. These professionals work in a wide variety of settings like medical centers and hospitals, private health clinics, spas and resorts, shopping centers, and independent practices. Some therapists even operate a massage business from their home.

Salary Trends

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2011 that the average annual income for a massage therapist was $39,920. Ambulatory healthcare services offer the highest pay at an average of $58,640 per year.

Education Requirements

In order to become an expert in this field, one must complete a massage therapy degree consisting of at least 500 hours from a well-respected and accredited institution. Coursework includes topics like physiology, anatomy, kinesiology, and business management.In addition, students will obtain hands-on experience during their training. Because state requirements vary greatly from one area to the next, always check with your state board to find out what specific requirements are necessary in your state.

After graduation, students must pass either a state exam or one of the national certification examinations: The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination,and the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. Again, check with your state health board to get specific information about the certification that applies in your case.

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