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If you are interested in massage therapy and think it could be the right career path for you, read this guide to find out about the job and how to become a massage therapist.

There are currently over 166,700 massage therapists in the US. The job outlook is expected to grow 21% by 2029 (faster than most other industries). A career as a massage therapist could offer you an abundance of opportunities.

Are you interested in starting a career in massage therapy? Here are the five steps you need to take to become a massage therapist.

With these tips, you can find massage therapy jobs in a range of settings, including spas, hotels, and fitness centers.

Start your new career with these five simple steps today!

1. Earn a Certificate or Diploma

First, take a moment to make sure you want to become a massage therapist. Do you know what the job entails?

Massage therapists help patients relax by easing tension throughout their soft tissues. They practice hands-on (manual) movement or manipulation to improve a patient’s well-being. Soft tissues can include a person’s tendons, muscles, connective tissues, and ligaments.

There are many reasons a client might visit you for massage therapy. For example, a session can help:

  • Relax muscles
  • Rehabilitate an injury
  • Ease pain
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Promote overall health and wellness

In some cases, massage therapy can even ease some symptoms associated with cancer treatment, such as the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

Massage therapists work in different environments, including spas, vacation resorts, fitness centers, and chiropractic clinics. Other massage therapists are self-employed.

As a massage therapist, you’ll need to remain on your feet for extended periods of time and perform tasks using your hands and wrists.

Certification Requirements

Before you can start searching for massage therapy jobs, you’ll need to meet your certification requirements. These requirements can differ based on where you live.

You can find the requirements for Nebraska here.

You’ll need a high school diploma or GED. You also need to be at least 18 years old. Then, you’ll need to complete 1,000 hours of study and training within the span of nine months.

These areas of study need to include the subjects:

  • Anatomy
  • Health service management
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Hygiene and practical demonstration
  • Massage
  • Pathology
  • Physiology

You’ll need to dedicate 300 hours to subject areas related to the clinical practice of massage therapy, including:

  • Deep tissue massage
  • Reflexology
  • Swedish massage
  • Sports massage
  • Pregnancy and infant massage
  • Physiology and psychology of exercise
  • Acupuncture therapy
  • Management techniques
  • Hands-on training

Look for a program that’s recognized by the state’s licensing board. The program you choose should involve academic and clinical work.

If you plan on starting your own massage therapy practice, you might want to consider courses for marketing, business finances, and management as well.

You can complement your classroom coursework with hands-on training in a clinical lab.

Choosing Where to Study

Before you start your coursework, it’s important to find the right place to study. You can find a massage therapy training program in your area. Once you start your program, you can complete training in as few as 20 weeks.

Look for a comprehensive curriculum that suits your schedule. Once you’re done, you’ll qualify to find massage therapy jobs at a chiropractic office, fitness center, spa, clinic, or hotel.

2. Take an Approved National Examination

Before you receive your state license, you’ll need to take an approved national examination in massage therapy.

A few of these exams for state licensure include:

  • Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)
  • The Board Certification Exam in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCETMB)

You can check the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) for these exams.

You can’t take these exams until after you’ve completed an approved massage therapy program. Once you apply and complete these exams, you can then take the next step in receiving your certification.

3. Apply for Your State License

You’ll need to apply for your state license before you can become a massage therapist.

Before you graduate from an accredited massage therapy program, you’ll also need to complete your training and clinical work hours. You’ll need to earn a passing score on a national examination as well. Once you meet the proper requirements, you can apply for your license.

In some states, you’ll need a certain amount of liability insurance before you can receive your license.

Make sure to double-check your state’s requirements for any other regulations. For example, they might require you to display your license in a specific way.

4. Meet Your Continuing Education Requirements

It’s not enough to complete your training once. If you want to maintain your massage therapy license, you’ll need to meet continuing education requirements. Otherwise, your certification and licensure won’t remain valid.

For example, if you took the BCETMB certification exam, you’ll need to recertify.Recertification requires evidence of 24 continuing education credits and 100 hours of work experience.

Some states also require you to submit evidence of continuing education. Otherwise, you could lose your license.

5. Start Your Career

Once you’ve earned your license, think about the type of job you want. Where do you want to work? Do you want to travel to client’s homes or work from your own home?

Would you prefer to work in a spa, clinic, resort, or chiropractor’s office instead?

It can take a lot of time and energy to establish your own business as a massage therapist. It might be beneficial to get work experience at another business first.  This can also be useful in building a list of repeat clients who may be interested in your services when you strike out on your own.

What about the average massage therapist salary? Massage therapists make about $52,565. However, your salary can differ based on your:

  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Additional skills
  • Number of years in the profession
  • Where you work

With that in mind, the range usually falls between $47,048 and $60,383.

If you decide on finding a massage therapy job, make sure to remain disciplined with your own physical and psychological well-being. The job’s physical requirements can be taxing on the hands, wrists, feet, and back. Burnout is always a possibility.

How to Become a Massage Therapist: 5 Steps to Jump-Starting Your Career

Now that you know how to become a massage therapist, get to it! While there is no short road to becoming a licensed massage therapist, the sooner you start the sooner you’ll complete all the necessary requirements.

Want to book an appointment and experience the benefits of massage therapy yourself?

Call (402) 384-8400 to schedule an appointment at our spa today to get started.

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