Thinking of a Career in Massage Therapy? Here are all the Steps!

Massage therapy is a booming industry bringing worth more than $16 billion dollars and 335,000-385,000 new massage therapists into the market in 2017. These numbers prove that our ancient techniques work and that they are in demand. Massage therapy is an artform that requires mastery of technique, and a deep knowledge of anatomy. While individuals can get pretty good at giving quick, individual massages, a massage therapist provides something of an entirely different level.

You Have to Go to School

Not everyone can become a massage therapist. It requires years of practice and education. It is a trade based on a unique skill that is only taught in accredited massage therapy schools. Like anyone else, you must go to school to do the job.

In the U.S., there are more than 300 accredited schools in massage therapy. These schools can take a year or more to teach students the essential skills they need in massage therapy. It also gives them the tools they need to succeed in the massage therapy business as well.

Initial training is robust. On average, massage therapists have had more than 600 hours of initial training before becoming certified. And after their initial education, the vast majority of massage therapists take continuing education classes every year.

Get Certified

Standards of certification is the responsibility of the state and that means that standards are different depending on the state your in. A clear majority of the country requires certification. Even in states that do not require certification, their municipalities often do.

Certification requires a passing score in the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) or one of two exams provided by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. The state of Virginia requires a passing score on the MBLEx along with 500 hours of training from a certified massage therapy school.

Decide Where to Work

Massage therapy is a popular career choice partly because of its flexibility. You don’t have to work within a business, or in an office or a spa. You choose if you want to be independent, if you want to work with a small group, a large business, or however you like. You also get to choose where you would like to work.

Of course, economy factors heavily into all of this. Clients may prefer you come to them instead of them coming to you, so you go to clients’ homes even if you prefer your own space. But even then, you control the location, you control the cost, and you control your career path. This field has an incredible amount of freedom.


If anyone came to this post thinking the process must be simple, we’re sorry to disappoint you. Training in massage therapy is robust. Like any other type of therapy, it requires nothing short of mastery to be effective. That means hundreds of hours of training, certification, constant education, and always striving to be a better therapist tomorrow than you were today.

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