Are you interested in a massage therapy career? Massage therapists help people feel better, reduce stress, and reenergize. Massages are usually associated with the word relief. Relief from pain and stress. Massage therapy is a diverse and delicate field. To become a massage therapist, one must be comfortable with the human body and able to stand for an hour or more. A good massage therapist needs to build relationships with clients--a fact that makes attitude as important as skill. People who enjoy working with the body and regular interaction with a variety of people might find massage therapy to be the perfect career choice.
Massage therapists use a combination of new and traditional techniques to treat a variety of aches and pains. These techniques may include deep tissue massage, reflexology, acupressure, Swedish massage, sports massage and neuromuscular massage. Individuals who want to work as a massage therapist need to be educated, professional, licensed and willing to work with people in an intimate setting.
Massage therapists methodically apply focused, hands-on techniques to promote relaxation and increase circulation in the body’s soft tissues (muscles, tendons, connective tissue, etc.). Although the warming and stimulating effect of massage has a positive effect on joint mobility and range of motion, direct work on the skeleton is outside the massage therapists’ scope of practice.
Therapeutic massage is used in hospitals, long-term care facilities and private clinics, for patients ranging from premature infants to the elderly. Many hospices have massage therapists on staff, and massage is frequently offered in wellness centers, drug treatment programs and pain clinics.
While many choose to practice independently, professional massage therapists may choose to work with physicians, physical therapists, rehabilitation counselors, chiropractors and acupuncturists and offer services in their offices.
It is common practice that massage therapists in the United States are trained in Swedish and deep-tissue techniques. Massage therapists can choose to specialize in other massage methods and adjunct modalities. Some examples are:
- Connective tissue massage
- Infant massage
- Manual lymphatic drainage
- Pregnancy massage
- Sports massage
- Thai massage
- Trager Method
Massage Therapist Skills and Duties
A massage therapist must have a thorough understanding of the body's muscle groups and the science of human movement. These skills allow them to identify physical problems with muscles or joints and apply appropriate techniques. Certain massages call for exaggerated strokes across the body, while others use short, percussive strokes on certain areas. These strokes help to improve circulation and release waste from muscle tissue. Massage therapists need to understand what these strokes do and when to apply them.
Training Required for Massage Therapists
Most massage therapists receive their training at one of the 1,500 massage therapy postsecondary schools, college programs and training programs located throughout the country. Programs can vary and may last anywhere from six months to two years. After graduation, massage therapists typically elect to take the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB). Most states require massage therapists to pass this test or a state-sponsored examination to receive a license. Out of the 50 states, 38 have laws that regulate massage therapy and require licensure or certification. Therapists who do seek out certification must renew it every four years.
Licensing for Massage Therapists
Most states regulate the massage therapy profession. Depending on the state, this could be in the form of a license, registration or certification. Cities, counties or other local governments also may regulate massage.
Licensing is the strictest form of professional regulation, making it illegal for anyone to work as a massage therapist unless he or she has a license.
Many massage therapists choose to become nationally certified in massage therapy. These certifications are administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). Individuals who meet standards of education, training and/or experience and pass the examination are entitled to use the designation Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and its initials, NCTMB. National certification indicates that these massage therapists possess skills, abilities, knowledge and attributes to practice, as determined by the National Certification Board.
Education and Training with an Accredited School
Standards for education and training can assist the consumer to know whether a massage therapist has adequate preparation to practice. AMTA recommends a minimum of 500 hours of supervised, in-class initial massage therapy training, which must include the study of anatomy and physiology, the theory and practice of massage therapy, and elective subjects.
Statewide massage therapy regulation will define the minimum initial massage therapy training requirement. Most require a minimum of 500 hours of training, but some require 1,000 hours (e.g. New York).
One way of knowing whether a training program or massage school provides a nationally-recognized standard level of education is to see if it is accredited by a credible agency, i.e., one that follows the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Education.
Learn more on how you can become a massage therapist. Schedule and Interview with Medical Institutute of Palm Beach Career Counselor now!