Therapeutic Massage Technician Careers

The Basics

After a long, tiring day, there isn’t much that’s better than a nice massage to revitalize the body and mind. The professionals who provide this service are known as therapeutic massage technicians. The massage therapy field is growing rapidly and currently boasts an impressive number of specialties; more than 80 forms of massage therapy are available for study, if you wish to practice a certain type. Further, the wide variety of job sites offers a flexibility not commonly found in other industries, as many therapists work right out of a home office and set their own hours. If this sounds interesting to you, keep reading to learn more about the responsibilities and requirements of being a massage technician.

What is a Therapeutic Massage Technician?

Therapeutic massage technicians work with patients to relieve physical discomfort that results from a variety of conditions. Some clients will experience pain as a result of stress while others have pain due to injury. Still others have muscle or soft tissue discomfort because of some other health-related issue, such as chronic illness or a recent surgery. Massage technicians typically use their fingers, palms, hands, and elbows to provide their therapeutic services to clients.

The field of therapeutic massage technology includes a wide variety of treatments, called modalities. Therapeutic massage technicians generally specialize in several modalities in order to provide a wider range of services to their clients. Likely the most popular modality is Swedish massage, which utilizes long strokes along muscles and soft tissues, alternating with kneading, in order to allow the massage technician to bring about relaxation and relief from pain for their client.

Thai massage is also a popular modality and involves using pressure on muscles and stretching exercises to relieve stress and increase flexibility. Deep tissue massage is another modality that therapeutic massage technicians often use. It encompasses deep pressure and manipulation of connective tissues and muscles to bring about reduced pain and muscle tension. Special massage techniques are also used on clients that are pregnant and those that are recovering from a muscular or soft tissue injury.

What Does a Therapeutic Massage Technician Do?

There are a variety of tasks associated with being a therapeutic massage technician.

The primary duty of therapeutic massage technicians is to manipulate muscles and soft tissues to provide health benefits to individuals that are experiencing pain as a result of an injury, illness, or chronic discomfort. Much work is also done with patients that are on the mend from surgery and who require massage therapy as part of their ongoing wellness maintenance plan.

Therapeutic massage can be provided using a variety of techniques. Sports massage is tailored specifically to the needs of athletes and is closely related to Swedish massage. In Swedish massage, the massage technician may use their hands to knead the muscles and soft tissue, or they may use circular movements or long strokes. Deep tissue massage is another popular type of therapy in which the technician seeks to work out knots in muscles by applying pressure.

While many people think of massage therapists as spending most of their time providing massage therapy, there are several other important areas of work. An integral component of the job is to consult with clients about problems that are occurring in their lives that lead to physical discomfort. Therapeutic massage technicians will review a client’s medical history with them, gaining insight into any injuries, medical issues such as surgeries, and issues with stress or pain.

From there, therapeutic massage technicians confer with clients on techniques for reducing their pain. This includes developing and implementing plans for stretching, improving posture, or strengthening weak muscles. Therapeutic massage technicians also often provide clients with information regarding muscle relaxation and exercises of a rehabilitative nature.

Part of a pain reduction plan is to develop treatment plans for patients that include the aforementioned exercises and relaxation techniques, as well as changes to the client’s diet and type of physical activities in which they participate.

Whether the desired result is to relieve stress on tired muscles, ease chronic pain, improve blood circulation, or simply help a client unwind after the normal rush of the day, massage technicians can make a world of difference.

Where Does a Therapeutic Massage Technician Work?

Common places for massage technicians to work include chiropractic offices, sports medical centers, hospitals, healthcare centers, gyms, and rehabilitation centers. They could also set up their own offices or carry out work from home. While this is very appealing, keep in mind that this is a physically demanding job which requires great stamina and manual dexterity, as well as the mental dedication to work for long periods of time, sometimes going hours without being able to sit. Most therapeutic massage technicians work at least 40 hours per week, so while they generally earn more than other technicians, they work hard for their pay.

How Much Does a Therapeutic Massage Technician Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average salary of a massage therapist is around $42,000, as of May 2014. The average hourly wage is $20.09. Massage therapists employed by ‘Individual and Family Services’ earn the highest mean salary of $64,710.

What are the Educational Requirements to Become a Therapeutic Massage Technician?

To begin this exciting new career, you first must acquire a high school diploma. From there, you can enroll into a massage therapy training program, which usually includes hands-on instruction along with coursework in physiology, ethics, human anatomy, massage techniques, therapeutic exercise, and business management. A wide variety of associate’s, certificate, and other training programs are available for therapeutic massage technicians.

Once you have completed at least 500 hours of post-secondary education and acquired some practical experience, you can apply for certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Standards and requirements vary from state to state; some require more education than others, while some require more or less by way of certification. Check with the health board of the state in which you plan to practice to ensure you meet all minimum requirements.

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