As attractive as a six-figure salary for providing massage therapy may be, the reality is that the median income for a massage therapist is $35,000. Many massage therapists only work part-time and quite a few are working in spas or health clubs as an employee or sub-contractor.
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Massage Therapy and the Entrepreneur

Some people enter massage school to help others through healing touch. Some attend massage school to work in a particular field such as sports medicine or in a spa environment. Others receive massage training to satisfy a different ambition. They want to:

- Own their own business
- Be their own boss
- Make a lot of money

The massage industry is not immune to capitalistic instincts. Nor should it be.

Many massage schools tout the income potential of a career as a massage therapist. Income projections for a good massage therapist range from $50-$75 per hour. That translates to about $65,000 - $100,000 a year depending on the number of clients served each day. This also requires that you are working independently and managing your own client base.

As attractive as a six-figure salary for providing massage therapy may be, the reality is that the median income for a massage therapist is $35,000. Many massage therapists only work part-time and quite a few are working in spas or health clubs as an employee or sub-contractor. So apparently, the big money in massage therapy goes to those that own their own business and practice full time.

So can you make big bucks as a massage therapist?

It is definitely possible to make a quite decent living as a massage therapist. But don't expect to strike it rich right out of massage school. You will have to build up a fairly substantial client base and that doesn't happen overnight.

Many new massage therapists go to work in a spa or health club to gain experience and build a reputation. Others perform massages for a very low fee or even for free just to get some buzz going about their capabilities. It can be a slow go once a therapist is out on their own and quite a few massage therapists call it quits as a full time enterprise early on.

As in any business it is usually the person that works the hardest and provides the best service that becomes successful. It takes patience and perseverance to build a business from scratch. It also takes some decent business skills. A self-employed massage therapist should be prepared to spend time managing financial records, keeping licenses current, filing taxes appropriately and treating their massage therapy practice like the business enterprise it is.

If starting at square one and taking the slow road to success is not appealing you may want to consider jump-starting your massage business by making an investment in a massage franchise. For a mere $39,000 you can become the proud owner of a Massage Envy franchise. Massage Envy is a hot new franchise that currently boasts 101 units in operation with a total of 274 franchise units awarded.

The company offers a recognized brand, training program and ongoing support for franchisees. Each Massage Envy clinic offers a variety of massage modalities and is open seven days a week. As an owner you would employ multiple massage therapists. Heck, you don't even have to be a massage therapist to own a massage business like this one.

There is no doubt that the demand for massage is growing rapidly and the need for massage therapists will grow right along with it. Those therapists with excellent massage skills, good business sense and a dedication to service can expect to make a comfortable living. Others can take satisfaction in helping others to deal with pain and stress while making some decent part-time income.


J. Terrence McDermott is the administrator of Massage Schools Guide at Massage School Guide, a website offering resources for prospective massage therapists. He specializes in online continuing education resources and also administers Access Online Degrees.

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