Will going to a better-known massage school affect my job prospects?


Massage therapy schools vary greatly in their reputation, course requirements, and the certifications they offer. As of 2009 there were still eight states that don’t regulate massage therapy at all, resulting in schools that offer “certifications” without rigorous training. There are a variety of degrees and certifications in massage therapy that can be obtained depending on the school. These include Certificate in Massage Therapy, Masters of PhD in Nursing with a specialty in Massage Therapy, Bachelors Degree in Alternative Medicine with Massage Therapy Concentration, Associates Degree in Massage Therapy and Diploma in Professional Massage Therapy. The most common are not degrees but rather certificates or diplomas from accredited schools of massage therapy which are awarded after a brief but intense program.

Maximizing your earning potential depends in part on what degree or diploma you have, so you will want to choose a school that offers the certification you desire. Getting an advanced degree in massage therapy or some other healthcare field can allow you to charge more for your services and have more job options. If you wish to work in the field of medical massage, in particular, you may want to pursue an advanced degree in physical therapy, nursing or something similar. If you want to incorporate massage into a nursing career, a Bachelors or Masters in nursing is recommended. A degree in acupuncture or other healing modalities can also enhance your marketability. However, earning potential is not based only on what type of degree or diploma you possess. It is largely based on your experience, demonstrated skill, and what types of massage you specialize in.   Also, don't forget the power of building relationships and networking (marketing). 

Some schools focus more on certain types of massage techniques. Although Swedish massage is the standard form of massage that nearly all therapists are trained in, there is a great demand for massage therapists who are well-versed in a variety of techniques, ranging from hot stone massage to Thai massage to craniosacral therapy.  You will want to choose a school that offers the modalities you want to learn, and does so in an in-depth way so that you can fully master them. In addition, a school that has a rigorous science curriculum and requires many hands-on clinic hours is likely to have a better reputation than one that only requires the bare minimum.

Going to an accredited massage school may enhance your career options. The following accrediting agencies are nationally recognized: Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT), Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS). Choosing an accredited school means the schools have meat federally agreed-upon standards.