Whether you’re looking for your first career, or switching industries, massage therapy is a fun, dynamic, and rewarding field to enter. US News calls it one of the Best Jobs of 2012, and quotes the Bureau of Labor Statistics as projecting that employment in this field will grow over 20% between 2010-2020. The Bureau predicts that there will be 30,900 new massage therapists in this time, and one of them could be you.
The first step to becoming a massage therapist is finding a training program or massage school that’s right for you. Programs can range from 500-1000+ hours of theoretical and practical (hands-on) learning and, on average, can take anywhere from six months to 18 months to complete. Massage therapist programs are available at universities and schools across the country.
It’s important to do your research and find out where your interests lie within the broad field of massage therapy. You can choose from a general program, or one that focuses on particular massage styles (also called modalities). There are standard programs and extended programs, which can differ in length and the type of diploma you can earn. It’s also a good idea to start thinking about where you want to work as a massage therapist. Are you interested in working in a clinic, a spa, a private practice? This decision may also have an effect on the type of courses you want to take while in school.
Once you have completed your professional massage therapist training, it’s on to taking and passing state and/or national licensing exams. Many states have their own licensing exams with their own requirements, so be sure to take this into consideration when choosing your diploma program.
Massage therapy is an active, vibrant industry that is growing every day as people become more aware of the benefits massage can provide. If you’re looking for a people-oriented job that will keep you in great shape, massage therapy may just be for you.