Interested in a job that lets you spend your work hours bathed in soothing music, soft lighting and scented oils? Massage therapy offers some pretty sweet and exotic working conditions: flexible hours, calm work environments and a job that is focused entirely on relaxation and health.
Massage therapists manipulate the muscles and soft tissues of their clients to produce relaxation, improved health and other benefits. There are over 80 different types of massage, and many therapists specialize in more than one. Building a client base is vital, and while there are limited opportunities for advancement within the massage therapy industry, successful therapists build loyal clientele and raise their prices over time as demand for their services increase.
Job skills & requirements
Education: Most states require massage therapists to be licensed to practice. Massage therapy licensing varies from state to state, but if you live near a metropolitan area there is likely a trade school that could allow you to pursue certification.
Stamina: You're in contact (literally) with all sorts of clients, and many people are initially very uncomfortable with the process of massage therapy. Having a strong sense of compassion and great customer service skills is vital to enabling clients to feel comfortable and ultimately building a strong pool of customers that will support your salary.
Empathy: You'll need to keep up and pull your weight (and then some) day after day. Make sure you're physically up to the task before you sign up!
Hours: Since massage therapists must take breaks between sessions to avoid injury, and many drive to appointments (which means additional time for setting up a massage table or chair) working between 15-30 hours is considered full time. Many people work part time as massage therapists to supplement their income. Hours depend almost entirely on your client base: therapists for retirement homes, vacation spas and professional athletes may find they are busiest during the day; people who make their money massaging office workers and amateur sports players will likely be booked up after normal work hours and on weekends.
Dress the Part: For an interview, suit up - but bring a comfortable change of clothes in case you are asked to demonstrate your skills. Spas and clinics will probably have a dress code; in other work environments you may find that loose-fitting pants and shirts are standard work wear.
“Why do I have to get certified? I give a pretty mean back rub.”
In your circle of friends you might be to go-to person for sore necks or strained backs, but even then there are tons of things you need to learn before you become a professional massage therapist. How do you set up a massage table? How can you stop to get more oil without ever taking a hand off your client? (Tip: few things are less relaxing than being facedown with your eyes closed, and having no idea whether your massage therapist has wandered off somewhere. A good massage therapist will probably keep in physical contact so that doesn't happen.) Do you know about deep tissue Swedish massage? Hot stone therapy? Prenatal massage?
Then head off to massage therapy school, and hone that gift for giving a mean foot massage into something that can earn you a comfortable living.
- Salon Manager (Averages $36,000 annually)
- Staying active - This job will keep you on the move throughout the day
- Self-employment potential
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