Imagine yourself working in a peaceful environment, providing healing touch and helping people every day when you go to work. Leading a balanced life, you use your skills to improve the lives of others.

Massage therapy is the fastest growing segment of natural health care, due largely to the growth in public demand for alternative approaches to health. A massage career is flexible – choose to be your own boss, work at a spa resort, treat injuries in a medical or athletic setting, or travel the world as a traveling massage therapist.



Developing Your Career as a Massage Therapist

There are many jobs available to recent massage school graduates in many diverse industries. Massage therapy is a profession on the rise. With substantial massage therapy career choices and opportunities to work in public or private practice, aspiring massage therapists face a bright future. Employment opportunities for massage therapists are expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for massage therapists is expected to increase 26 percent (much faster than average) nationally through 2026, as more people learn about the benefits of massage therapy and search for alternative medicine and holistic healing.*

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2018 Edition, Massage Therapists.

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Massage therapists are hired to work in a number of private and public settings:

  • Airports

  • Fitness Centers

  • Hospitals

  • Nursing Homes

  • Private Offices

  • Resorts

  • Cruise Ships

  • Shopping Malls

  • Spas

  • Sports Medicine Facilities


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Developing a rewarding massage therapy career can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Most successful massage therapists reach a good practice level within two years, though some take longer. Your practice will thrive if you focus on these important elements:

  • Strive for quality work with each client

  • Get involved in the community you practice in – become genuinely involved

  • Understand your ambition and goals

  • Maintain positive energy levels

  • Develop effective marketing and networking efforts

  • Value your local reputation – word of mouth can increase your clientele

  • Have a warm and friendly personality


Employment in a Rapidly Growing Health Industry


The primary reason people received massage was for health and wellness reasons.

  • Forty-three percent of adult Americans who had a massage between July 2016 and July 2017 received it for medical or health reasons such as pain management, soreness/stiffness/spasms, injury rehabilitation, or overall wellness, a slight decrease from 2016 data.

  • Eighty-nine percent agree that massage can be effective in reducing pain.

  • Twenty-nine percent of massage consumers had a massage for relaxation/stress reduction between July 2016 and July 2017.

Massage Therapy & Health Care - More Americans are discussing massage with their doctors or health care providers.

  • In July 2017, roughly fifty million American adults (18 percent) had discussed massage therapy with their doctors or health care providers in the previous year, consistent with past years’ data.

  • Of those 18 percent who discussed massage with their doctor or health care provider, 59 percent of their doctors or health care providers referred them to a therapist/strongly recommended massage therapy/encouraged them to get a massage. While physicians led the way in recommending massage (61 percent vs. 56 percent in 2016), chiropractors (40 percent) and physical therapists (46 percent) also recommended massage therapy when their patients discussed it with them.

  • Chiropractors continue to refer their patients to massage therapists, with 12 percent of respondents reporting receiving referrals at least once per week, and another 24 percent receiving referrals several times per month. Fifty-four percent of massage therapists received at least one referrral every 6 months or less from a hospital or medical office in 2017.

  • Massage therapists and consumers favor integration of massage into health care.

    • Nearly two-thirds of adult Americans (64 percent) would like to see their insurance cover massage therapy.

    • The vast majority of massage therapists (97 percent) believe massage therapy should be considered part of the health care field.6

Massage Therapy Research

The therapeutic benefits of massage continue to be researched and studied. Recent research has shown the effectiveness of massage for the following conditions:

  • Cancer-related fatigue

  • Low back pain

  • Osteoarthritis of the knee

  • Reducing post-operative pain

  • Boosting the body’s immune system functioning

  • Decreasing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Lowering blood pressure

  • Reducing headache frequency

  • Easing alcohol withdrawal symptoms

  • Decreasing pain in cancer patients

  • Fibromyalgia

*Statistics based on the AMTA Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet.




To become licensed as a massage practitioner, you’ll need to pass the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination, commonly known as the MBLEx. Administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

This test is now the sole licensing exam for the profession, making a massage therapy license portable from state to state. Before you enroll in a school, look into additional licensing requirements in your state to ensure your education fully prepares you to earn this important credential.

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