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Massage Schools: Massage Therapy Colleges, Classes and Training Courses

With the increasing focus on health, spas and wellness centers have sprung up over the past few years, offering services ranging from massages to facials and other treatments. Consequently, there is a growing need for skilled massage therapists and the career prospects are rosy for graduates of massage therapy schools.

Job Description and Responsibilities of Graduates of Massage Therapy Schools

A qualified massage therapist applies therapeutic techniques such as pressure and motion to a person's body. Massage can be used for many reasons, including stress relief, injury healing, and pain management or just to improve one's general well-being.

There are over eighty modalities of massage which entail the use of different massage techniques and pressure. Some types of massage include:

  • Swedish massage

  • Aromatherapy massage

  • Reflexology

  • Acupressure

  • Shiatsu

  • Reiki

  • Sports massage

  • Deep Tissue Massage

Besides giving massages, other daily activities performed by graduates of massage therapy schools include:

  • Scheduling appointments

  • Communicating with clients to ascertain their medical history, specific needs and requests

  • Tailoring massages in response to the clients' information

Due to the strenuous nature of the job, massage school graduates need to be physically fit. Working full time as a massage therapist generally implies 17 or more hours of massage in a week. Massage therapists must also be willing to work flexible hours and travel (if necessary) to accommodate the busy schedules of clients.

It is crucial that graduates of massage therapy schools are effective communicators. They must be able to interact with their clients by explaining the massage and determining requests such as the amount of pressure and preferred techniques to use, as well as specific areas to focus on and avoid. Since a large number of massage therapists work independently, networking is crucial in building a solid client base.

Career Options After Massage School

Approximately two-thirds of massage therapists are self-employed, working as independent contractors or business owners. The remaining one-third of massage school graduates find jobs in the hospitality or medical sectors, such as at:

  • Spas

  • Hotels

  • Fitness centers

  • Physicians' clinics

  • Nursing homes

  • Sports events

  • On-site locations ('chair' massages in public places)

Through learning and mastering new therapeutic techniques, you can easily expand your massage therapy practice.

Massage Therapy Schools Training & Certification

Enrolling in a massage school is the first step towards becoming a qualified massage therapist. Scattered across the nation, there are an estimated 1300 such massage therapy schools offering full- and part-time postsecondary, college, and training programs. Some of the classes offered by massage therapy schools include the study of the human body, motion and kinesiology. In addition, students at massage therapy schools will receive hands-on training in massage techniques.

Training standards and certification vary according to state. Most states stipulate that graduates of massage therapy schools may only practice if they have completed a formal education from an accredited massage school and passed the examination conducted by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). Before sitting for the examination, candidates should ensure that they have graduated from state-licensed massage therapy schools with a minimum of 500 hours of training. The examination assesses the knowledge accrued by the candidates in massage school training programs. Passing this examination forms part of the state requirements for granting a license.

Some states require that massage therapists keep abreast of their knowledge through continuing education and regular practice of their work. By doing so, graduates of massage therapy schools can ensure renewal of their credentials every four years. Be sure to check if your local municipality has requirements beyond that mandated by national and state authorities.

Massage Therapy Schools Accreditation

Prior to enrolling in a massage school, you should ensure that it is properly accredited institution offering a high standard of education. Accreditation of a massage school is undertaken by several independent bodies. These include:

  • Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA)

  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)

  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)

Massage School Graduates Earning Potential and Employment Prospects

The median hourly earnings of massage therapists were $15.36 in 2004, including gratuities. Gratuities are a significant factor in the salary of massage therapy school graduates, as they comprise an estimated 15-20% of total earnings.

The employment prospects for graduates of massage therapy schools are indeed optimistic. As people continue to take a deeper interest in their health and wellness, massage is becoming an increasingly popular relaxation medium. Massage therapy is also gaining acceptance in the medical field as an alternative treatment to supplement traditional methods of pain and stress relief.

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