Making the decision to attend a massage school is not something to take lightly. While massage education is largely different than traditional types of education, it is nonetheless a huge investment. Depending upon the school you choose, your location, education delivery, credential earned, etc., your financial investment could range from $6,000-$15,000. The time to study, do clinicals, and complete other coursework are also an investment which cannot be overlooked. Ironically, many who choose to pursue a massage therapy career have a tendency to focus on how their life will benefit AFTER massage school is over, and pay little attention to the most important aspect-the entry level education.
Here are a few suggestions to help you choose a school:
- Visit at least 2 schools, 3 is better. Do not limit your options to the first program, or the one who immediately “accepts” you as a student. Change your mindset—you’re not being accepted, they are being considered!
- Ask if the school is accredited. While accreditation is voluntary and not necessarily an indication of program quality, it is a commitment that the school makes to the public, the government (financial aid requirement), and to the student that they will adhere to certain specific policies and procedures that allows for a solid education. NOTE: In the massage profession, there is only one accrediting body that actually accredits the massage program as opposed to the school as a whole, COMTA (Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation www.comta.org/schools) This means that the actual massage therapy curriculum is assessed, and is reviewed by massage therapy professionals who are trained and experienced.
- Ask if the school is affiliated with any professional massage therapy organization or association. The most common are the American Massage Therapy Association (www.amtamassage.org), and Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (www.abmp.com.) If not, ask why. A responsible school will maintain some sort of affiliation with a professional organization to ensure that they are “in the know” when it comes to changes and trends within the profession.
- Visit at least 3 local massage therapists and ask how their school prepared them for their career. This is very important information that can only come from those who are actually “making it.”
- Check out the school website and social media presence. Do they have a Facebook page? Are students talking about their experiences?
Who is teaching, and what are they teaching?
- When contacting the school for a visit, ask that an instructor be made available as well. Depending on the size of the school, it is entirely possible that an admissions representative will be your point of contact. If you don’t ask, you may not see an instructor until your first day of class. Ask them questions like “What do you think massage students can do/can avoid to have the best experience possible.”; “Do you practice massage in addition to teaching?”; “What do you think the future of massage therapy looks like?”
- Also, ask to see the curriculum. With the exception of generic requirements by licensed states, massage therapy curriculum content varies greatly. For example, business courses are typically allotted a very small amount of time despite the fact that most massage therapists are sole practitioners, or self-employed. Some schools focus more on the clinical aspects of massage, while others focus on wellness. It’s important to be clear what type of therapy interests you, and what your intentions are following graduation before making a commitment.
After you’ve done your research, you’ll feel much more confident about your choice, and your income potential as a massage therapist. Good luck!