Massage Therapy Job Outlook

Learn more about massage therapy career information and education. Find information on massage therapy careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers massage therapists.


At some point in time, everyone could use a good massage. Whether it is tension, stress, injury or simply the need for relaxation, a therapeutic massage can do wonders. Qualified massage therapists can be trained and skilled in more than 80 different massage techniques, called modalities. From deep-tissue, through acupressure to Swedish massage, the massage therapist must often tailor the massage session to the individual client. An injured sports star, for example, will require a different massage from an elderly patient. Also, a sports massage would not be beneficial to anyone simply seeking relaxation. That is why massage therapists employ such relaxation techniques as low lighting, mood music, scented candles and massage oils. Many massage therapists are self-employed, setting appointments in various locations, and must have their own massage table and accessories. With all of this, even a full-time massage therapist works less than 40 hours per week, frequently due to the physical demands placed on the therapist. Giving a massage can be a physically demanding career, and therapists are susceptible to repetitive injury if incorrect techniques are used. But when such factors as travel time, equipment set-up, and business requirements (billing, etc.) are taken into consideration, even part-time massage therapists work more than 40 hours in a given week.


According the US Government, approximately 122,000 massage therapists operated in 2008. 57 percent of these individuals were self-employed, while the remaining worked in physician or chiropractic offices, personal care facilities, hotels, or fitness centers. Numerous other individuals work part-time as massage therapists to supplement their income. As of 2009, 42 states and the District of Columbia require massage therapists to obtain certification through education and an exam. The standards and exams vary by State. Any individual seeking a career as a massage therapist should research the local requirements.
There is also very little corporate structure for massage therapists; career advancement frequently depends upon the interpersonal skills of the therapists. Working with clients is the main focus of a career in massage therapy, so an individual who is better able to make clients feel at ease and relaxed with have a greater clientele. Individuals who also have excellent organization skills and entrepreneurial drive to become self-employed will typically be able to expand a client list and make more money over the course of a career.

Industry Salary Info

It is difficult to precisely state how much an individual massage therapist can make in a given year. For individuals employed as massage therapists in a hotel or hospital setting, the median wage is $16.78 an hour. The highest 10 percent of earners in massage therapy made, on average, $33.47 per hour. However, as the majority of massage therapists are either self-employed or partially employed in the field, annual earnings can be problematical to track. Individual massage therapists can often set their own schedules, and determine how large or small a clientele list they service, leading to a wide range of earning potential. Some individuals may be content to maintain a smaller, steady source of secondary income, while more driven massage therapists have near unlimited earning potential. Many of these massage therapists also receive a part of their pay as a gratuity, which further makes earnings difficult to track. Individuals working in an office, hospital or care facility as a massage therapist will not find tipping a common practice.

Job Outlook

The demand for licensed massage therapists is expected to grow at a faster than average rate in the coming decade. The opportunity to earn a living as a massage therapist is there, however, individuals new to the field should expect lower pay and remain satisfied with part-time work until a sizeable client base is built. For those wishing a career with more stable, traditional employment, the outlook is also bright. The number of health spas is projected to increase, as will smaller massage businesses, such as in shopping malls, offering spa-quality massages at affordable prices. Also, as workplaces focus more on employee satisfaction, in-office chair massages are becoming a popular fringe benefit. Further, as the American population ages, more senior citizens will require more massage therapist as a part of remaining active and mobile adults. As massage therapy adopts licensing standards across the United States, it is increasingly being seen as a legitimate aspect of health and relaxation, and as its acceptance among the general population increases, so too will job opportunities present themselves.

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