Most massage therapy programs make it fairly easy for their students to attend and be successful. Many offer day or night classes, and most can get their certification or diploma within seven to 15 months. If your state requires certification for massage therapists, then your program will likely include preparation for that certification test. There are many schools out there, so choosing the right one for you can be difficult. We've put together some items that we think all prospective massage therapy students should consider when choosing a school.
1) What kind of massage is for you?
Do you see yourself on a cruise ship, or in a spa pampering your clients with a hot stone treatment and a nice Swedish massage? Perhaps instead you can picture yourself helping to relieve stress and pain for someone who is suffering from cancer or MS, or some other chronic illness. Or maybe you see yourself using your skills to help someone rehab a torn ligament or muscle sprain so that they can get back to the game or the workout. These are different types of massage that require different skills. It's best to look for a school that specializes or has focused programs to address the type of therapist you'd like to be. If you have not yet decided on a particular focus, or would like to do a variety of types of massage, then choose a program that offers a diverse curriculum of different massage techniques.
2) Make sure your school offers business courses as part of their curriculum:
Massage therapy is a competitive field where most therapists either work for themselves or are contracted employees. Business courses are an absolute must! You will need to understand the basics of running your own business and managing your taxes. If you are in business for yourself, you'll need to know how to market your business and possibly even manage other employees. Business acumen is one of the cornerstones of your new career.
3) Tuition cost vs education quality
Tuition cost between schools may fluctuate quite drastically. Often you will find schools with similar programs and much different tuition costs. With massage therapy, like many other fields, the cost of the education you receive might not actually relate to the quality of the education you receive. Spend some time getting massages from therapists in the area and ask them what school they went to, what type of classes they took and what styles of massage they use. Not only is this research relaxing and pleasurable, it will give you an idea of the techniques that you like and help you choose a school that offers the classes you really want.
The only way to really know what kind of massage therapist you will be right out of school is to get a massage from someone who is attending the school. Typically, part of the curriculum is a clinical period where students practice their massage skills on the public – usually at a discounted rate. Some schools have clinicals as part of a student's final semester; others can start their clinicals as early as mid-way through their programs. If you are interested in a school, find out when they do their clinicals and get massages from several of the students. It's a great way to see what skills you will gain in the course of your future education.
Find a massage program that is right for you:
- Massage therapy, Diploma Program or Associate Degree
- Therapeutic Massage Technology
- Professional Massage and Bodywork
- Professional Massage Therapy
- Spa Operations
If you want to consider related opportunities, check out these other career options: