I can honestly say that I feel enormously blessed to be able to call myself a massage therapist! I get to have a career that makes me feel valuable to both clients and my community. Massage is truly part of who I am and not just what I do to make a living. That said, developing a successful career didn’t just happen. I had to work for it, often investing time, energy, and money that I didn’t have readily available – not an unusual story for many who have found success.
I believe success comes to those who invest in themselves through education, research, and good choices. There are currently almost 300 accredited massage therapy institutions in the United States that a potential therapist could attend. Some schools offer financial aid; some don’t; some offer scholarships; some don’t; some are focused more on SPA therapies, others are more oriented toward structural integration or therapeutic massage; and some offer extended programs, while others only offer entry-level education. Each applicant needs to determine what is important to them before enrollment in a program. A process that can be easier said than done.
So, where do you start?
- Get a massage at the student client at any school to which you are considering applying. I would make sure to ask for a therapist that is closer to graduation. This can be extremely helpful as it can give you insight into the style and techniques you can expect to learn at that establishment. It also gives you a great opportunity to ask the therapist what they think about their school and the education they have received.
- Ask to sit in on a class or two at any prospective school. This allows you to mingle with students and instructors to see if the school offers a good “fit” for you.
- Attend health fairs and other community health events that broaden your understanding of the types of therapies available; this can be especially helpful if you don’t have a clear direction regarding the type of therapy you would like to specialize in. It is hard to know what you want to do if you don’t know what the options are!
- Know your learning style, including your strengths and weaknesses! This can help you in your selection as you seek out massage programs that will best fit your needs and goals. Different schools offer different teaching styles and student resources. A school that offers tutoring will be a plus if you are a kinesthetic learner, haven’t been in school in a long time, or are concerned about the program's cognitive knowledge/bookwork components.
- Know the school’s success rates! How many students that enroll actually graduate? Of those who graduate, how many found gainful employment? Of those who are employed, what is the average income they earn? Schools should be tracking this information. You should be concerned if they can’t answer these basic questions.
The process of learning massage can be an amazing adventure. Students not only learn about how the human body works, but they learn about their existence in their own body. It can be an intrapersonal, interpersonal, and extrapersonal experience. Receiving a proper education in massage therapy is only the first step in the journey of creating a career in massage. An essential step that creates the foundation for everything else to follow. Be sure to choose wisely and with clear intent.
Do you LOVE the massage school you attended? Let us know where you went and why you recommend it!