What Can I Do with a Massage Therapy Certification?

Published on July 24, 2020 by arothstein

Student practices providing a chair massage while training for her massage therapy certification.

Massage therapy is gaining in popularity as a mainstream treatment for stress and pain. Prescribed by lifestyle coaches and healthcare professionals alike as a pathway to wellness, it can reduce tension, soothe sore muscles and mitigate the effects of chronic disease. Millions of Americans had a massage last year, making it an asset to the public and an excellent business opportunity for vocational school graduates with massage therapy certification.

What Does a Massage Therapist Do?

Massage therapists use the power of touch to reduce stress and alleviate pain. It’s an ancient wellness practice dating back five millennia. Pushing, pulling and kneading soft tissue with the hands is scientifically proven to improve both physical and psychological wellness. Studies show massage therapy can:

Many types of massage are used worldwide, several of which are popular in the US, including the following:

Each has unique benefits that massage therapists can use to meet their clients’ wellness needs. Of customers who received a massage recently, almost three-quarters sought it for health reasons such as pain management and injury rehabilitation. Many have had a massage for stress reduction alone, and of those that did, most would look forward to another.

Why Do Students Choose a Massage Therapy Certification?

Healthcare is an attractive field for students who want to help others, but working in mainstream medicine isn’t for everyone. The long hours and structured days can feel confining. Some people prefer a less medicalized, more holistic approach to wellness, and that’s something for which massage therapy is well-suited.

As allied health professionals, massage therapists get referrals from doctors and many services are billable under health insurance. But massage therapists practice autonomously, so they enjoy professional freedom and the choice of diverse work settings. There are few limitations.

Where Do Massage Therapists Work?

Some massage therapists focus solely on promoting general relaxation, while others develop complementary health practices. Employment settings vary based on goals.

Vocational school graduates can work for others or start a business, the sky’s the limit. And unlike some health services, massages can be performed wherever the equipment fits, such as:

What are the Benefits of Massage Therapy Certification?

Massage therapy certification opens the door to a wide range of career choices with benefits, including a quick start, professional autonomy, flexible schedule, a relaxing workplace, a sense of purpose, an evolving field, and flexible business opportunities.

A Quick Start

Professional careers in healthcare can take years in college to train for, but students attending a vocational school program full-time can get a massage therapy certificate in less than a year. Graduates are well-prepared with hands-on training and are ready to earn from day one.

It’s an excellent option for adult learners who can’t afford to be out of the job market for long or for students who need a lifelong career with flexible hours.

Professional Autonomy

Autonomous professionals make their own decisions. They use their experience, insight and skills to benefit clients without interference. Massage therapists employed by others are beholden to workplace policies, but their craft is still uniquely their own. They work with clients directly to formulate treatment plans that meet their individual needs. For students with a passion for helping others, there’s no easier way to make an impact.

Flexible Schedules

Self-employed massage therapists can set their own hours, working around a busy lifestyle while maximizing earning potential. As with any business, the more hours a massage therapist commits to the job, the higher the financial reward. And because clients may only be available evening or weekends, it pays to be flexible. But as a career, massage therapy offers options that promote a healthy work-life balance.

Working for others is somewhat more limiting. Hours are usually predetermined, and there are typically fewer options for working off-site. But most employers offer negotiable hours and both full-time and part-time positions.

A Relaxing Workplace

Careers in conventional healthcare are fast paced, but most massage therapists spend their days in serene surroundings enhanced with soft light, soothing music and scented candles. Appointments and schedules need to run on time, but the overall environment is relaxing for both the client and the massage therapist. Whether the purpose of a massage is recreational or therapeutic, clients are always happy to see their massage therapist, and it shows.

A Sense of Purpose

Massage therapists offer valuable wellness services. They work with people to ease the physical manifestations of emotional strain, and they collaborate with physicians, chiropractors and physical therapists to treat complex musculoskeletal pain disorders.

Of consumers who’ve received a massage, many believe it should be considered a form of healthcare. Being a massage therapist is a respected, influential and personally rewarding way to influence the wellness of others. They make a tangible difference in the lives of those they serve.

An Evolving Field

Massage is both art and science, yet until a decade ago, studies looking at the health benefits of bodywork were limited. Now that massage has gained widespread acceptance from the scientific community, research is growing, and not surprisingly, it’s opening new avenues for practice. The latest data shows massage is a potential treatment for:

As a field, massage therapy is evolving, and for the curious, there’s always something new to learn.

Flexible Business Opportunities

Massage therapy certification offers flexible business opportunities. Like hairstylists, massage therapists can work as independent contractors, renting space in an established practice. Portable equipment and supplies are rarely included, but one monthly fee covers the rent, utilities, facility use and access to walk-in customers.

There are limitations. Sharing space means coordinating with other massage therapists to avoid clients waiting for long periods of time in the reception area or parking lot, and the hours of operation may be inflexible. Some businesses ask contractors to sign costly extended leases while others rent at will, leaving a new graduate vulnerable to fee increases. Still, if the building is in a high-traffic area, and the business has a good reputation in the community, it’s an easy way for a new massage therapist to build a solid customer base.

Entrepreneurs may prefer to start their practice from scratch by buying or leasing office space. Start-up costs are relatively low compared to other types of businesses, but areas must be aesthetically attractive and provide privacy for changing clothes. It takes a nest egg to cover initial expenses from utilities and insurance to advertising and taxes, but the entire operation is within the massage therapist’s control. It’s hard work at first, but once the ball is rolling, the rewards grow.

Chair Massage

Another middle-ground option to consider is chair massage. The techniques used are the same as for table massage, but the focus is on the upper body. Clients kneel in an adjustable chair equipped with a chest pad and face cradle, and sessions last 10 to 20 minutes on average.

Offering chair massage can be the key to unlocking untapped revenue. Instead of waiting by the phone for clients to call, massage therapists seek them out wherever they may be. Public places such as shopping malls have embraced massage stations as a value-added service, while companies are increasingly offering massage as a wellness benefit for staff. The possibilities are limited only by the distance the massage therapist can travel.

Unlike table massages that are scheduled in advance, chair massages are virtually on-demand, and clients are more likely to indulge because they take only a few minutes. And once occasional clients see the benefits of bodywork, they’re more likely to become regulars. Chair massage can be a full-time business or just another option that massage therapists can offer. For an established massage therapist, it’s a flexible way to generate income when bookings for table massages are light.

How to Get Massage Therapy Certification

In less than a year, massage therapy certificate programs give students the knowledge and skills they need to work as entry-level massage therapists. Students are well-prepared to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB).

What Does it Take to be a Successful Massage Therapist?

All it takes to become a massage therapist is an interest in wellness and the willingness to learn, but having a few special skills is helpful. Massage therapists work with the public, so being a people person is a plus, and as in any healthcare field, compassion, empathy and the ability to communicate thoughtfully are critical. A massage therapist serves others.

The work isn’t grueling, but it can be physically demanding, most of the day is spent standing. Upper body and hand strength are required to manipulate stiff muscles. The ability to bend and twist around obstructions, such as beds, is important for massage therapists working in a healthcare setting.

For the self-employed massage therapist, a little business savvy is invaluable. While accountants and other professionals can tackle the financial aspects of a business, hands-on owners are usually more satisfied with their career. For first-time self-employed individuals, it’s a learning process, but the curve isn’t steep, and there’s always help available.

Final Thoughts

Stress-related disorders are reaching epidemic levels, something has to change. People need a new approach to wellness that complements conventional medicine while addressing the lifestyle factors that contribute to illness. Massage therapy is more than a solution for what ails, it’s an investment in health and productivity, and as a career, it’s an investment in the future.

Are you interested in becoming a massage therapist and want to know what certification can offer? Ready to start a program to become a massage therapist? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

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