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Massage Therapy: An occupational overview

by Alex Gabennesch

With 46,500 job openings expected by 2030, massage therapy is one of the best and fastest growing occupations for professionals today (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022). Median salary in 2021 was $46,910. Typical entry-level education is a postsecondary non-degree award.

Practitioners use touch to manipulate clients' muscles and soft tissue-reducing pain, as well stress. Other duties include talking to clients about symptoms, providing guidance on stretching/strengthening and documenting client progress.

Workers in this field often specialize and become experts in areas such as sports or orthopedic care.

Usually, clients need an appointment for a massage, which can be as short as five minutes or last over an hour. Treatment may be administered in a spa, hospital, or small business environment. Most practitioners work eight hours daily, five days a week.

Photo: Wix Media

To become a massage therapist, one should consult state and other local requirements. Generally, after receiving a high school diploma, a post-secondary program (500-1,000 hours of study) develops necessary skills through coursework and hands-on training.

Many workers will then need to pass a licensure exam and background check, have liability insurance, and be CPR certified to finally practice. Continuing education and periodic license renewal may be required to work in a particular state.

Massage therapy is a complex profession. Practitioners should be prepared to face physically demanding work and unpleasant or even confrontational clients.

However, many massage therapists find the career highly rewarding with flexibility in choosing their work setting and hourly rates (if self-employed).

Regarding diversity and inclusion, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that nearly 84 percent of massage therapists identify as women, and over 70 percent are white. Additionally, data from 2019 reveals the number of Black massage therapists only increased 3.3 percent since 2011.

Diversity and inclusion can impact patient's satisfaction and accessibility for various cultures.

In conclusion, massage therapy is an excellent occupation to consider for those wanting to help others. The broad range of treatments and work environment options also give practitioners flexibility to shape their own career path.

While the field can be physically demanding, and has much to improve regarding diversity and inclusion, the growing demand for services has established a positive future job outlook, set to continue for the rest of the decade.

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