A massage therapist is someone who is trained and skilled in massage therapy for medicinal benefits. Massage therapy is the manipulation of the soft-tissue and muscles of the body and it is used for many different reasons. Among the reasons for massage therapy is to relax overworked and tired muscles; to treat pain that results from any number of ailments; to aid in the rehabilitation of athletic injuries; and to support overall good health.
There are over 80 different types of massage in which a massage therapist can specialize. This includes Swedish massage, reflexology, deep-tissue massage, acupressure, and sports massage. Most professional massage therapists are specialists in more than one of these methods that are referred to as modalities.
Becoming a certified massage therapist usually requires the completion of a certificate program. Check out the program below which offers free information:
Massage Therapist Job Responsibilities
The primary responsibility of a massage therapist is to massage their clients to relieve discomfort and to ease muscle tension. They are often employed by health clubs and resorts or they are self-employed. A massage therapist may employ alcohol or lubricants during the massage, provide steam or dry treatments, treatments that utilize ultraviolet light, and water therapy.
A massage therapist has many responsibilities:
- Before the massage begins, the therapist should confer with clients and learn their medical history and what problems they may have with stress or pain. This helps to determine what type of massage would be the most beneficial.
- The massage therapist must gauge the condition of the client’s soft tissues, the joint function and quality, range of motion, and muscle strength.
- The therapist must propose a specific treatment plan for the client.
- When the client’s needs have been established, the massage therapist massages the soft tissues and muscles to provide the treatment that has been determined.
- The therapist prepares and blends massage oils and applies them during the massage.
- The massage therapist may often confer with physiotherapists, chiropractors, and doctors in order to design the proper treatment plan for a client.
- The therapist may often need to refer a client to different types of therapists if his or her condition would benefit from it.
- A professional massage therapist should educate clients on how to improve their posture and teach them strengthening, stretching, and rehabilitative exercises as well as relaxation techniques.
Massage Therapist Training and Education Requirements
Requirements for massage therapy training and the standards can be different in each state. A high school diploma or its equivalent is always required to enter either private or public institutions that offer massage therapy training. Most schools that provide massage therapy training offer either full or part time programs.
The subjects covered in these programs include:
- Physiology – the study of tissues and organs
- Kinesiology – the study of motion and mechanics of the body
Business management course are often required as well as hands-on practice of the different massage techniques. Educational programs in massage may offer the opportunity to study specific modalities.
Usually, massage therapy programs are approved by a state board and they may often be accredited by separate agencies that are independent from the state.
Massage Therapist Salary and Wages
Studies done by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) indicate that American’s spend between four and six million dollars a year on massage therapy. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapists are normally paid an hourly wage and receive tips. Their information indicates that the median hourly wage for a massage therapist is $15.36.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Fifteen to twenty percent of the income for a massage therapist can be attributed to tips. However, massage therapists that work in medical facilities do not receive tips.
A massage therapist who is self-employed has the opportunity to earn more than the average hourly wage received by therapists who work for resorts or spas.
Massage Therapist Certifications
Certification for massage therapists is different from state to state. Many states regulate the profession and massage therapists must pass an exam and receive a license in order to practice after completing training. This exam can be a state-specific exam or be one of two tests that are nationally recognized.
The boards that issue massage therapy licenses can choose which tests and certifications to accept on a state-by-state basis. Someone hoping to practice massage therapy in a particular state should check what requirements that state has before he or she completes training.
Many state also charge a fee for the license and require its occasional renewal.
Massage Therapist Professional Associations
There are two main professional associations for massage therapists. The first is the American Massage Therapy Associated (AMTA) and it is the leading organization for massage professionals. They define the standards for the profession and offer ways to provide further education to its over 55,000 members. Their goal is to advance the purpose of massage therapy as being “integral to the maintenance of good health.”
Another membership association for professional massage therapists is the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP). Being a member of this organization allows massage professionals to network with others in the profession and gives them access to the newest information about the profession as well as continuing education in the field. They also offer easy access to liability insurance information. This organization also takes members who are bodyworkers, physical therapists and nurses.