-How do I know if a massage career is right for me?

Massage therapy is a growing career with great earning potential. If you want to work in a healing profession and have been told you are good at giving massages, you might be thinking about a career as a massage therapist. However, a massage career requires a lot more than having strong hands or being good at giving back rubs. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help determine if this is a good career choice for you:

-Can I work full-time doing massage right away?

Starting out as a massage therapist you may need to be working part-time in another field while you grow your practice. It is possible to find a full-time job right out of school, but many people take years to turn massage therapy into a full-time job for themselves.


Am I comfortable with the idea of touching strangers’ bodies?

As a massage therapist you will use draping techniques to preserve your clients’ modesty, but there is no avoiding that you are working skin-on-skin with the bodies of clients you have never met. This will likely include clients of both genders and all body sizes, and people with a variety of medical conditions and appearances. Remember that your comfort level will likely grow with experience.

-Am I physically fit, with no significant back, arm or hand issues?

Massage therapy is not likely to be the best career choice for someone who has carpal-tunnel syndrome, shoulder pain or serious back pain. In fact, many massage therapists develop repetitive strain injuries from their jobs. Learning ergonomic massage techniques can help prevent these issues, but if you are already prone to these problems you may want to investigate other healing modalities. 


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-Am I self-motivated and ambitious?

At least half of massage therapists are self-employed, and those who are self-employed frequently receive the highest hourly rates. Because of this, massage therapy is a field that tends to require a high level of motivation and ambition. Therapists with an entrepreneurial spirit, who are driven to build their own businesses and are not afraid to market themselves and to network in order to find clients, have the highest likelihood of success.

-Does working in a dark, quiet environment seem appealing?

Most massage takes place in a dark room with minimal lighting. There may be candles or essential oils used. Little talking takes place during a massage. It is a calm and healing environment, with lots of repetition and little external stimulation. 

Medical or sports massage will take place more in a rehab setting with more light.  Less relaxation technique and mostly therapeutic modalities.


-Do I have a passion for healing?

Going into this field for financial reasons may only sustain a massage therapist for a limited amount of time. Ultimately, it is a passion for healing that is the best motivator in this career. If you get great satisfaction from helping people met their wellness goals, massage therapy may be for you.

-Am I prepared to take excellent care of my body?

Massage therapy is a very physically taxing job. You will need to do extensive stretching, learn ergonomic positions, know when to take breaks, and get massages yourself in order to keep your body pain-free.

Massage therapy is a popular and fantastic field to be getting into right now. However, before you enroll in a massage therapy program be sure to talk to practicing massage therapists to find out whether your personality is well suited for it and to identify the benefits and drawbacks of a massage career.

What types of massage and bodywork should I get training in?


It is recommended that anyone considering massage school get massages from a variety of practitioners and in a variety of styles so that they can better understand the range of modalities available and which ones are most attractive to them. When choosing a school, you will need to consider which massage styles are emphasized most at that school. Swedish massage is the “bread and butter” of the massage business, in that it is most in demand at massage franchises and in spas. However, there are many other types of massage that are growing in popularity or that have fruitful niche markets.


Deep tissue massage is one popular technique for addressing injuries and areas of muscle tightness. If you are interested in deep tissue work, and in working with people experiencing chronic pain, consider additional training in myofascial release and trigger point therapy. If Asian bodywork forms are of interest, shiatsu and Thai massage are popular and profitable specialties you can pursue training in. Those seeking to work closely with other medical professionals and to treat medical conditions can seek supplemental education in medical massage. Hot stone massage is in demand at many spas and franchises right now, so informal or formal training in this technique will likely be useful.

Courses in massage with specific populations are very useful, so take advantage of courses offered in massage with HIV or cancer patients, pregnant women or geriatrics. Geriatric massage therapy is a growing field because of the large number of aging Baby Boomers.

 Other forms of bodywork and movement therapies can be useful to the massage practitioner who is trying to diversify their practice and improve their marketability. These include craniosacral therapy, Trager approach, Alexander technique, Feldenkrais, yoga, acupuncture, Rolfing, reflexology and Bowen technique.

Expanding your training and getting specialized expertise in a specific form of bodywork can be very helpful in building your massage practice.