Massage Therapist

What Does a Massage Therapist Do?
Massage therapists use manual manipulation to treat pain, achy and sore muscles, stress, and also to promote the general health and well-being of clients. Massage therapists can offer a variety of different services to cater to client needs, from recreational massages for relaxation to massages specifically geared towards relieving pain and tension from an injury. Targeted areas for massage therapy include muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and even internal organs. Massage therapists use their upper body, such as their hands, arms and elbows, as well as their lower bodies, such as their knees and feet, to apply pressure to targeted areas in order to achieve the clientís desired result. For example, athletes are more likely to receive a deep tissue massage that reaches far down into the muscles and tendons to relax their tense and tired bodies, whereas recreational clients are more likely to receive lighter massages for relaxation purposes.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Massage Therapist?
Health care is one of the most stable and improving industries in the work force today. There will always be a need for health care professionals due to the complexity of treating the human body and the unpredictability of disease and aging. Massage therapy will be a prosperous field as more people seek noninvasive and non-medicinal methods of treating pain and stress. In fact, 21 percent of adults in the country see a massage therapist annually, according to a 2003 survey conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association. Employment opportunities for massage therapists are expected to rise 19 percent through 2018, a faster growth rate than that of the national job growth average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As more states begin to regulate who can become massage therapists, the field will become more respected, which inevitably draws in more clients than before. Massage therapists earn an average hourly wage of $16.78, according to the most current data available from the Bureau.

How Can I Become a Massage Therapist?
Massage therapy is becoming a more respected field, due in part to the increasing educational and training regulations that many states are putting into place. An associate degree in massage therapy or another medical field is usually preferred by employers. An associate degree program would take about two years to complete. During the duration of the program, students take courses in anatomy, kinesiology, body mechanics, ethics, and other classes that are designed to provide students with a firm foundation in business and massage science. Many massage programs require students to participate in hands-on massage techniques so that they may best learn how to relieve stress and pain through touch. In most states, graduates of massage therapy programs must obtain licensure before they can begin practicing professionally. Licensure requirements vary from state to state, but in most cases program graduates need to successfully complete an examination. Some states also have continuing education requirements for license renewal so that practicing massage therapists remain up-to-date on techniques and massage studies.