Career Coaching

So you wanna go to massage school?

So you wanna go to massage school?


So, my question to you is WHY? No seriously, why?  My second question is, what do you want to do with a massage certificate?  Do you know that according to the American Massage Therapy Association that the annual salary for a massage therapist (including tips) in 2016 was $25,539?  That’s freaking low!  So I ask again, why do you wanna go to massage school?

Industry Facts

So, before you go any further in reading this article or signing up for a massage program, read this research article first.

Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet | American Massage Therapy Association

Review a compilation of data gathered by the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) from U.S. government statistics, surveys of consumers and massage therapists and recent clinical studies on the efficacy of massage. These data provide an overview of the current state of the massage therapy profession, public and medical acceptance of the value of massage and increasing consumer usage of massage therapy in the U.S.

Clean Air

So now that we got that out of the way.  Let’s talk about becoming a massage therapist.  If you really want to be a massage therapist and feel like you have what it takes to thrive then do it.  You never know until you try.  That goes for any industry.  Make sure you have your ducks in a row before you dive in though.  Ideally,

  • Support of family and friends.
  • Litte to no debt (because massage school is expensive).
  • Physically capable to do the work.
  • Don’t carry a lot of baggage that you will spill onto your clients or in your studies.
  • Willpower/determination (because massage ain’t easy).
  • Business sense.
  • Savings or a side job (aka A Backup Plan).

Choosing a school

So, not all vocational schools are created equal.  Take your time and do your research.  Or else…

Corinthian Colleges Shuts Down, Ending Classes for 16,000 Overnight

In what’s believed to be the biggest shutdown in the history of higher education in the United States, Corinthian Colleges said Sunday it’s closing its remaining 28 for-profit schools effective immediately, kicking about 16,000 students out of school.

Choose a massage school that has a good reputation for its accredited massage program.  Check reviews online.  Talk to students who have graduated from the school and are working in the field.  Find those students by getting massages at local establishments and talking to those working therapists.  DON’T take the word of the school salesperson, career officer or staff.  Realize these people work for a business.  Their business is enrolling you in their school programs.  Don’t get sucked in by the hype of textbooks, fancy equipment, uniforms.  Instead get the facts.

The right questions

Yes, there are right questions to ask.  They are:

  1. Percentage of students placed/working in massage jobs in the last graduation class?  Why so few? (If less than 70%)
  2. I have a felony/misdemeanor, can I do massage?
  3. How many massage hours will I receive upon completion of the program?  With those hours can I take the exam to become board certified?  How about joining a professional organization?
  4. What if I quit the massage program what are my options?  Can I come back at a later date?  Can I transfer to a different program?  Do you offer refunds?
  5. What is the career path for most of your graduates?  How long do they stay in the field?
  6. How many students default on their loans?
  7. Can I meet all your instructors?

Ask the hard questions.  Make an assessment of how truthful/knowledgeable the school staff is about their massage program.  It’s better to go in feeling confident and supported in completing the program than to walk into the program blindly.  The later will greatly increase your chances of not succeeding.

Know this

You will not become rich as a massage therapist.  Sorry to burst your bubble.  However, you can live a good life and make a decent salary.  The reason the figure for annual income is so low isn’t that therapists make pennies on the hour for their services rather most massage therapists either work part-time (leading to lower yearly salary) or for themselves.  Being self-employed allows many benefits and one particularly useful one is the ability to write off business expenses that lower your reported income.  Best of luck with your new career choice, it’s a great one.

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