Massage Therapy Careers - Three Options
There are a remarkable number of variations on massage techniques. Most professionals
today concentrate on just a few of them, choosing to excel in a limited number of therapy
models rather than be casually acquainted with a large number of massage techniques. This
article addresses the most widespread massage professional specialties and discusses the
education and certification requirements for the job.
The different styles of massage, or modalities as they are called, can be confusing to
the layman. Reflexology, Swedish massage, acupressure, deep tissue massage, sports
massage, and neuromuscular massage are terms that you'll encounter in most spas or massage
studios. Because of its long affiliation with alternative medicine, massage techniques are
occasionally referred to as "bodywork." Lesser known massage techniques such as Rolfing,
Hellerwork, Aston-Patterning and Neurocranial Massage can often be found in massage
facilities associated with holistic healing.
• Day spas are a primary resource for massage treatments, and massage
is important to the bottom line, typically contributing 50-60 percent of the facility's
revenue. Relaxation massage is an invigorating experience when provided by an experienced
professional, which is why many spas have repeat customers. Fees for this service are in
the $50 - $75 range. Many new massage therapy school graduates gain experience in this
environment and then hand out a shingle and develop their own personal practice.
• Clinical massage has become a mainstream option in recent years.
Practitioners in this sector of the trade often work with patients to reduce pain in a
particular part of the body. Clinical massage is also used in conjunction with other
therapeutic techniques to help in the rehabilitation of an injured extremity or muscle
group. Therapeutic exercise designed to restore full range of motion in, for example, an
injured shoulder or leg can be painful and tiring. Massage of the affected area is a way
to induce relaxation following the workout.
• Sports massage is designed to keep athletes in top shape. Many
athletes today develop their own training regimens in order to maximize their careers.
Often they will go beyond what coaches and trainers associated with sports teams expect of
their athletes. Sports massage therapists work with injuries and soreness, but their
primary focus is helping an athlete to maintain maximum flexibility. The sports field is
a growing and lucrative message specialty.
Massage therapists learn their craft in privately run schools or academies, in some
vocational schools, and in colleges. Massage therapy programs generally cover subjects
such as anatomy; physiology, the study of organs and tissues; kinesiology, the study of
motion and body mechanics; as well as hands-on practice of massage techniques. Many
massage professionals seek training at more than one source so that they can learn the
modalities they wish to specialize in.
As of 2007 thirty eight states and the District of Columbia had laws regulating the
massage industry. Generally they require graduation from an accredited institution and
passage of a national or state exam. There are two national certifying bodies, both of
which require an exam. The prevalent organization is the National Certification
Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB). Many States require that
therapists pass this test in order to practice massage therapy.
Bob Hartzell writes about careers for GetDegrees.com. On the website you'll find
comprehensive resources for
massage therapy training
as well as information on educational opportunities for hundreds of other professions.