How long is massage therapy school?

studentGoing to massage therapy school is a commitment no matter what the minimum hours your state or county requires. And all licensing and certification requirements will vary by state. Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia regulate massage therapists or provide voluntary state certification. In states that do not regulate massage therapy; this task may fall to local municipalities.[1]

Some states require as little as 500 hours to complete massage therapy training – while others, like New York (1,000 hours), require much more. Canada’s unregulated and regulated provinces can range from 0-3,000 hours.[2]

Massage training programs can be full time or part time. Days, evenings or a combination of both is possible. And your school may or may not focus on a particular modality or specialty.

A basic massage school curriculum will cover a wide variety of different subjects ranging from the obvious (hello, muscles!) to the not so obvious (leases, landlords, and laundry, oh my!)

Coursework is generally divided into the following areas:

  • Anatomy

  • Physiology

  • Kinesiology

  • Body Mechanics

  • Business Management

  • Ethics

  • Clinical and/or Hands-on work

Your particular licensing body may have certain hour requirements for each area as well as additional volunteer or clinical based work. This is your opportunity to get supervised hands-on experience that will bring your skills to the next level.

The hands-on portion of your coursework can also vary.  In some cases hands-on will be strictly held in the classroom or supervised treatment rooms within the school. Or maybe the school you choose will be active in the community by frequenting local nursing homes and road races.

It’s likely at the end of your massage training, your school will have to submit official transcript documentation to licensing and certification boards for approval. Background checks may also be required.

Continuing education should be mentioned as well. In some states, additional education is a requirement to keep your license or certification valid. Also some professional organizations require CEUs to maintain your membership. The school you choose may offer such courses so keep that in mind during your search.

It’s important to note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are some personal qualities to consider before looking into massage therapy training.[3]

  • Communication Skills – the ability to listen to clients and their goals

  • Decision-making Skills – recommending the best treatment for the client’s needs

  • Empathy – building trust with clients and making them feel comfortable

  • Physical Stamina – multiple treatments per day require lots of time standing

  • Physical Strength and Dexterity – the ability to exert pressure with a variety of techniques and movement.

While your location may dictate the minimum hours needed to be licensed or certified in your area, it’s extremely important to have a learner’s heart. Some massage therapist training programs have a higher quality of education but no school has the ability to turn you into the best therapist you can be.

You will always be growing and evolving.

The type of work you do, your location, job experience, and continuing education classes will help shape you as a therapist and as a professional.

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