There are a remarkable number of variations on massage techniques. Most professionals today concentrate on just a few of them. This article addresses the most widespread massage professional specialties and discusses the education and certification requirements for the job.
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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.

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