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Massage Therapist Career FAQs

Massage Therapist Career Frequently Asked Questions

What questions do I have about being a massage therapist

Where will I be working?

Most recent graduates of massage school will be working in a spa environment. Often these new therapists will work at a franchise establishment, such as Massage Envy, Elements, Hand and Stone, or other local franchise spas. Not all chain spas are the same; some are infinitely better places to work. Do your research! And of course, after several years of experience, therapists often move on to private spas, where the pay rate is generally higher. Ultimately, many Massage Therapists may work in their own private practice, either as a supplement to their Spa income, or as a total replacement for working at a Day Spa.

Such practices can often be in a chiropractor's office, or the office of another healthcare practitioner where they rent space or contribute a percentage of each massage to the office as payment for the use of their space. Other therapists choose to work for a service that sends them to clients' homes and offices on an as-needed basis. Such services will often pay more to the therapist than working in spas and other locations.

What is massage therapy work like?

Massage therapy involves the therapeutic application of touch for the relief of pain, anxiety, and a myriad of other health conditions and issues. Many students of massage are experiencing giving and receiving touch for the first time in their lives. For this reason, massage school is oriented toward acclimating students to both giving and receiving therapeutic touch. When you enter the field of massage therapy, you will often be giving many massages in a day, often five or more during one work shift.

Do I have to touch people?

Massage therapy is a profession in which you will have to touch people, often for the entire day. You will become acclimated to touching other people during massage school, but if this is something you are uncomfortable with on a basic level, this will be a challenge you will need to overcome in order to work as a massage therapist. If you have a serious aversion that would require counselling or psychiatric help, or if it is against your religious or moral belief system, you may want to reconsider this profession.

Can I refuse to work on someone I don't like?

It is not possible, once you are working as a massage therapist, to refuse to work on someone simply because you do not like them. However, if they do something or say something that is unethical or downright creepy, such as asking if they can touch you, then you can stop the massage session and refuse to work with them further.

Are there a lot of seedy, creepy guys looking for massage?

Due to the fact that many practitioners of prostitut1on have attempted to legitimize their practices by calling what they do "massage," men believing that massage therapists are pro stitutes and thus able to be used by them for sexua1 favors, is an issue that many massage therapists have had to contend with. Normally, men expecting such services will give themselves away when they are booking the massage. They may say things like, "Is draping required?" (in most states it is required by law); "Do you work the full body?" When such questions are encountered, a therapist should ask more specific questions, such as "Exactly what are you looking for?" or state, very seriously, "We offer strictly therapeutic massage." Rarely, men will come straight out and say, "Do you offer 'happy end1ngs'?" Obviously, those are not the clients you're looking for.

Although a spa environment offers you more safety when working with such clients, there are many female therapists who will refuse to give massages to male clients in their homes. This is a perfectly understandable reaction to a problem that is real. When a female therapist visits clients in their homes alone, the therapist's safety is of the most importance, and if they need to refuse a paying client in the interest of their own safety, then they should do so. However, do not let this deter you from a rewarding career. Massage therapy is sought by women as much as, and perhaps more than, men in most locations, especially when having massage therapy at home.

What can I expect to earn as a Massage Therapist?

Earnings for massage therapy vary from state to state, and it is difficult to make a general estimate. When you are first starting out as a massage therapist, you can expect to earn less than when you have a few years of experience According to the AMTA's research report on massage therapy, the average earnings for a massage therapist working at a spa was $30.60 per hour. Massage therapists tend to work about 26 hours per week at a spa or salon.

The pay rates in your city and state may be different, as these numbers are based on nationwide averages, where the reality is that in some cities you will earn more, and in others less. For example, in the two neighboring states of New York and New Jersey, the massage therapy hourly rate is much different. In New Jersey, it is around $80-100 for an hour, whereas in New York the average rate for an hour of massage in the city ranges closer to $200. So, the earning potential of a massage therapist would be greater in New York, which requires more hours of education, than in New Jersey.

Do I earn more at a spa or at another venue in my Massage Career?

Your earning potential can be greater at a private spa or a chiropractor's office than at a franchise spa. Since franchises offer a lot of specials, they tend to pay their therapists less. However, at a private spa that is not a franchise, you can earn more. And chiropractor's offices tend to pay around the same as private spas will. When you have built up a private clientele (on your own, not stealing your spa's clients, which is a very unethical practice), you will earn more than you will working at an establishment.

Mobile massage establishments, where you are called to people's homes or offices, will also allow you to earn more than a spa or other medical office. Such places generally pay a higher percentage to their therapists, although this is not always the case. However, the challenge with these services is that you are not the only therapist called, and it is usually on a first come first served basis. However, as an adjunct to other massage therapy work, it can be very lucrative if you have a lot of last minute availability.

How much can I earn doing chair massage?

The average earnings for a massage therapists doing chair massage vary from state to state. This can be researched in much the same way as average spa earnings, by searching on the web for chair massage and visiting the pricing pages of companies in your area.

How long will it take me to build a private practice?

It is likely to take quite a while to build a private practice, although this depends to a large extent on who you are. For example, if your father is a chiropractor and your uncle is a physical therapist, they are likely to refer a large number of clients to you as an adjunctive therapy to their practice. In this case, it will take a very short amount of time to build your private practice. For other therapists, it will take longer. Usually, clients you have had at spas will refer you to their friends and family, and they will be looking for at home therapists.

Many spas understand that some of their clients will want services at home, and they allow their therapists to accept such calls if they are not actively promoting these services at the spa. Often it is the paying client's home-bound mom or a sister who has recently given birth and cannot come to the spa. In this case, the spa would not be involved and there is no loss on their end.

Is a private practice the goal of every therapist?

A private practice is not the goal of every therapist. There are some therapists who prefer to have someone else find their clients for them, spending their funds on marketing and advertising, and having the necessary overhead to have a spa. Some therapists do want to have their own spa location, where they may work alone. Then they must do the hard work of getting clients through marketing and advertising, as well as attempting to rebook and gain referrals from the clients who come in for massage.

Even a mobile massage business has a lot of overhead in terms of marketing, advertising, website building, and other costs of running a business. The company then is responsible for their therapists' promptness, neatness, and the overall experience of the massage even though they are not giving the massage themselves.

What other types of work can I do as a massage therapist?

As a massage therapist, in addition to working in a spa, you can also be employed in a medical office to offer massage to patients who are receiving medical treatments prior to their visit with the doctor (acupuncturists and chiropractors often offer this service to their clients). There are also massage therapists who are hired to work on sports teams, often performing pre-game and post-game massages to the members of the sports team. Therapists can also be hired by resorts, spas, golf clubs, and other establishments to offer regular or sporadic chair massage to their clients. There are many career options open to the creative therapist, you only need to use your imagination to find them.

What are the modalities that most people will ask for?

The vast majority of people will ask for Swedish Massage, as this is by far the most well-known of all the modalities. However, a growing number of clients have been referred by their physicians for lymphatic drainage massage, as this is an excellent post-surgical modality, or for pre- and post-natal massage, which is gaining wider acceptance as a beneficial adjunct to traditional medical care during pregnancy. Other modalities are asked for on a rarer basis, but these are the most common.

Is it useful to have additional modalities to offer?

It is very useful to be able to offer clients specialty services that set your services apart from those of other therapists. Since you are in need of continuing education as a massage therapist, it is useful to take classes that you will be able to offer regularly. Modalities such as lymphatic drainage and prenatal massage are commonly requested, and would be among the more useful modalities to take when taking your continuing ed.

Do I have to take continuing education classes?

In some states you have to take continuing education, while in other states it is not required. However, if you take an exam for your licensure, such as the MBLex or the NCBTMB exam, continuing education is required to maintain their certifications.

Do I have to apply for a license in my state?

If your state requires a license, then you must apply for it in your state in order to work legally. If you do not get your license, you run the risk of being fined or jailed for practicing massage therapy without a license.

Are there additional credentials I can have that make me more attractive to employers? Or to clients?

As stated above, some of the more useful modalities, such as prenatal or lymphatic drainage massage, will make you more attractive both to employers and to clients. These additional certifications that you bring into the spa will allow them to market these specialty services, making you a more valuable asset to their business.

What are the best continuing education classes to take?

This is more a matter of personal preference than what is specifically best. However, it is better to take classes in modalities that you have seen people have interest in. For example, if you peruse your local spa's menu, you might see that they offer lymphatic drainage, neuromuscular therapy, and myofascial release. Even if you don't want to work in that spa, it will help you to know what modalities consumers are likely to be more familiar with.

Why do I need continuing education? Didn't I learn everything I needed to know in massage school?

Continuing education does not denote the fact that you did not learn everything you needed to know in school. The main purpose of continuing education is to show your continuing dedication to furthering your knowledge related to the career you have chosen. For different states and certifications, this means different amounts of education credits. Since you may be working in this field for a very long time, it is better to keep learning new things to keep your mind fresh.

New developments are made continually in every field, and the purpose of continuing education is to keep therapists up to date with these developments. Continuing education applies to many other professional fields, such as nursing, chiropractic, physical therapy, and in non-healthcare related fields such as accountants, attorneys, and teachers.

What types of people will I meet in this field?

In this field, you will meet people from all walks of life, socioeconomic classes, and life stages. You might meet a single mother who has been at home for many years and decided she wants a new career, you may meet people from other fields such as teaching or psychiatry who are looking for a change. Some therapists have been accountants or secretaries, and then some of the therapists you meet will be young high school graduates who are seeking a first career.

Is there cutthroat competition among massage therapists?

Unfortunately, there is cutthroat competition among massage therapists. For those thinking of having their own business at some point, this is a reality they will have to face. Massage spas, mobile massage services, and independent massage therapists are all competing for the market who is seeking massage therapy. Nearly every spa relies to some extent on internet marketing to bring in clients, and this is where the competition is the fiercest. Most spas and massage therapy places pay a great deal of money to search engine optimization companies, who build, manage, and optimize their websites.

This can cost into the tens of thousands of dollars for these spas, and for those just starting out in this field, it can take years to see a return on this investment. This is why most new therapists decide to work for a spa instead of creating their own business right away. Since it is possible to build a clientele through word of mouth, rebooking, and referrals, it might be possible for a really good therapist to get themselves in demand among their clients, and thus build a private practice.

Is it better to work for a spa or to try to do it on my own?

It is definitely better for the new massage therapist to start out working for another company. This is also the norm, and what is expected and accepted. It is not usual for the recent graduate of massage school to open their own spa. Unless they are already independently wealthy, it would be nearly impossible to do so. Opening a spa or other type of medical office has high costs involved, such as monthly rent, electricity, heat, advertising and marketing, as well as hiring and paying other therapists to work for you. The list of costs goes on and on. As stated in the question above, it is better for the beginning therapist to work at a spa, doctor's office, acupuncturist's office, chiropractor's office, or other suitable location.

What else do I need to know to work in this field?

Some states and certification boards require you to take CPR and First Aid, while others also require you to have a background check. A high school diploma or the equivalent is also required.

Should I get educated in other fields like physical therapy or is massage sufficient?

Massage therapy is sufficient to itself as a career field. With the numerous additional certifications you can obtain, massage therapy is an ever expanding field, with a wide variety of methods and modalities. Massage therapists do, however, often also become physical trainers to better help their clients. However, fields such as physical therapy and chiropractic require a great deal of additional education, between five and eight years or so to become fully trained. For this reason, most massage therapists remain in their field, obtaining additional certifications related to the field of massage therapy.

What are other massage therapists like?

Since other massage therapists come from all walks of life, you will meet a wide variety of people when working with other therapists. Some will be kind and compassionate, others not so much. Some therapists have pursued this career as a way to help others and better their world. Other therapists have chosen this field because it is perceived as easier than going to college for something else. Still others have been convinced that massage therapists earn a lot of money, and have decided to go into this field for reasons of money only.

The notion that massage therapists make a large income is largely received through the schools of massage therapy that operate, and who publish the chart from the US Census Bureau from the census taken in the 1990s. This data has become largely outdated, and the current earning potential of massage therapists is not as high as it once was due to the proliferation of day spas and resorts offering massage therapy, as well as the number of graduates every year. The vast majority of other therapists are kind people, who are pleasant to work with.

Will I be expected to know all of the muscles forever or will I forget some of them?

It will be helpful to you to periodically brush up on your anatomy, so that you can be knowledgeable when clients come to you with specific complaints. However, you may forget some of the muscles. Your are less likely to forget them if you take the proscribed continuing education classes, most of which will assume an understanding and knowledge of the muscles. Each of these courses will act as a refresher for the anatomical names, and after a number of years, you will permanently remember most of the muscle names.

Do clients like it better when you can tell them the names of the muscles that hurt them?

In most cases, the clients do appreciate when you are able to tell them what muscle is hurting them. Sometimes, you might not be able to name the muscle off the top of your head. In such cases, just pointing and naming the insertion points will also increase the positive perception in the client's mind that you are knowledgeable and can really help them.

Do clients really care about the education you have?

Yes, clients definitely want to know that you are knowledgeable and educated before you work on them. No one wants to go to someone who is uneducated, especially since they could be injured newly or further if you don't know what you are doing. For this reason, it is important to many clients that you are properly educated in massage therapy.

Do clients actually care if you are licensed?

Clients will often ask if you are licensed. This licensure assures them that you are a legitimate therapist who cares enough about their career to obtain proper legal status to practice. It also helps to assure them that you are not an illegitimate "therapist" hiding behind the legitimate practice of massage therapy in order to avoid legal prosecution.

Do you need a license to open your own spa?

In many cases, you do not need to be a licensed massage therapist to open your own spa. However, if you are not a massage therapist yourself, then your state may require that you hire a licensed massage therapist to manage the spa for you. Just as with estheticians, a person who is not a licensed massage therapist cannot manage a massage therapy spa. All of the employees of that spa must be licensed, in most cases with their licenses conspicuously displayed. Remember that if you operate a spa and are not a licensed massage therapist, you may not give massage in that spa.

Is there a special license for the spa to employ massage therapists?

Yes, there are special business licenses required for any spa that offers massage therapy. If you are working at a spa, or if you open your own, make sure that you know your states legal requirements, and make sure that the spa you work at is licensed. Since the licenses are usually required to be conspicuously displayed, you do not even need to ask, simply look for the license behind the counter.

What paperwork should I ask a spa or chiropractors office for in order to know they are legitimately offering massage in their place?

As stated above, the spa or office that you work in should be appropriately licensed. You can ask the spa or office manager where their license is displayed, and they should present it to you or point it out on display when you are there. If the state you are in does not require such a license, they may tell you that it is not required. If this is the case, you need to do your research to make sure that is a true statement. Depending on the state in which you practice, you may be liable for practicing at an illegal establishment if you practice without ensuring that their establishment is properly licensed.

Where do I find a job as a massage therapist? Do I look in the paper?

Finding a job as a massage therapist today generally involves searching online. Jobs are posted on sites such as craigslist, your local newspaper's website, monster, CareerBuilder, indeed, and others. Most massage establishments post their ads on sites which are free to post, such as craigslist and indeed. However, more established spas looking for more experienced therapists will often post their ad on paid sites. In addition to these venues, your school's job board is often a great resource to check out when looking for a job. Or, you may check out our Jobs Board page here.

The reason for this is that there are fewer applicants looking for jobs on that site (just graduates of that particular school), rather than the thousands who might be searching on the other sites. Less competition means it is more likely that you will be hired. Other ways of finding a job as a massage therapist involve calling or visiting local spas and chiropractor's offices to find out if they are hiring and submitting your resume there. In today's job market, it is important to be creative when seeking employment at any profession, and massage therapy is no exception.

Here are some additional questions and answers, added as of The 4th of July, 2014!

Is there health insurance for most Massage Therapist jobs?

Unless you are a full-time employee, most companies are not legally required to provide health insurance. But just because you work 40 hours a week doesn't mean you'll qualify: If you're a 10-99 contract independent worker, then your employer will not ever be providing health insurance. In most instances, Massage Therapist do not receive health benefits from their job.

Do I get to make my own schedule working as a Massage Therapist?

More than most office workers, Massage Therapists have latitude in arranging their schedule as they wish. This is great for parents with small children, students, and people with many obligations socially, such as those who volunteer a lot, or who are active in their community. Most Spas are open until at least 8 or 10 PM. This means that there must be therapists to fill shifts all day and all evening long.

If you set up your own spa in your living space, you can go from working on clients to doing other personal stuff without even a small commute. And with your own office at home, you can choose to see clients whenever you wish. So, yes; Massage Therapists can make up their own schedules to a large degree.

As a Massage Therapist, can I take off when I want to?

Generally, the answer is yes for this profession. While you may have the luxury of taking off, certain of your regular clients may only be available on certain days, and thus you would be more hesitant to take off on days such clients are expected. In a Spa, you can lose your clients to someone else, though most will come back to you, and other therapists may be courteous and make it clear that they're just 'subbing' for you.

Is there paid vacation as a Massage Therapist?

Most of the time, the answer would be no. For full-time employees of Spa Resorts, Chiropractor's Offices, and other various jobs, Massage Therapists may receive vacation pay. It's not usually going to be the case, but there is always that slim possibility if you end up with a paying (salaried, not commissioned) job with the right employer.

Is there a 401k with most Massage Jobs?

Only full-time salaried employees are even eligible, and like paid vacation, it's entirely up to the company. If your employer is gracious and cares about keeping their employees with them for more than a couple of years, you may find all sorts of extras and amenities.

Are there bonuses?

Generally, Massage Therapists do not receive bonuses. However, that's not saying that it's not possible that some Day Spas will give cash (or prizes) for the Massage Therapists with the most re-bookings, or therapists who bring in the most new clients through their own efforts.

How do I get paid as a Massage Therapist? Is it by the hour?

The work you perform is always measured by the hour; that is true for Massage Therapists as well as most professions. Some Massage Therapists get paid on a commission-basis; that is, they receive a percentage of every massage they do. That percentage varies among different establishments.

For Massage Therapists with their own Spa Room (in their apartment or private house), you will receive 100% of the client's payment. Since it's your own home, you get to keep all the funds. If you rent a room in a Health Center or other such situation, you will have to pay them a monthly fee, or a percentage of the sessions you do there.

If you get hired full time as a salaried employee, you are in luck. You get paid by the hour. Usually you get paid even if you don't do massage. You get paid for standing around. Well, not exactly.. You have to help maintain the spa in your down time. But it's a guaranteed amount every week in a paycheck. You will be paid by the hour, usually hired with a yearly salary and hourly rate made clear by the interviewer.

Do I get paid even if no one shows up?

If you work out of your home, you can't pay yourself for time you're not doing work! If you work in a Spa, Chiro office, or other setting where you get paid a commission, then the answer is still no. If you work at a Spa Resort or other place where you get an hourly wage, then the answer is YES. In such situations, you get paid for every day you show up, like any other job. Due to the fact that some spas were requiring commission employees to be on site when they did not have clients (and not paying them for that time), the laws in many states have changed so that if you are required to be at the spa or office when a client has not booked an appointment, the spa is required to pay you for your time.

Where else can I work besides a day spa?

Massage School graduated can work in Massage Schools, Day Spas, Spa Resorts, Chiropractors' offices, Doctors' offices, for sports teams, for Cruise Lines, for yourself, for a mobile massage company, for athletes, Acupuncturists' offices, physical therapists offices, and more.

How do I know the Spa is legitimate and not a s€x place?

Great question. Many peole are drawn to Massage Therapy out of a need to help others. It's hard work, and the reward is, at least in part, the feeling of being of help to others. But such people may not be able to believe that others may try to take advantage of them. Not every situation out there is going to help you advance your career as a Massage Therapist, and some places may dangle all sorts of promises of wealth in front of you, with the condition that you 'earn' that cash by performing illegal acts.

I will tell you, from my own experience when I was seeking work in spas when I first graduated from Massage School that such nefarious places exist. Here are a few ways you can easily differentiate legitimate Day Spas from places that serve a different sort of clientele:

Did the ad you were responding to state something like, "Now Hiring, Incall, or Outcall"? Does the web site for the place say "full Service?" Those are red flags. When inquiring about the position, did they ask you about your appearance on the phone? Did they comment about how you looked in person? If so, this is totally inappropriate for a Massage Therapist position, and suggests something else. Massage Therapists are Health Care Processionals; appearance is not even relevant. However, a passing comment complimenting someone on their handbag, nails, or eyes, may just be nothing.

Did they ask you if you were a police officer? In one place, this actually happened to me! At the same place, I was asked to empty my pockets. In real life, at a legitimate place, this will absolutely never happen! Obviously...

If the establishment is in an unmarked building, or one with the word 'spa' in neon, that's a bad sign. If the place has the word 'parlor' in its name, or even the word 'sauna', you should be doubly wary. Table Showers, Body Shampoo, and "stress Relief' in ads are all keys to the puzzle, and may mean something else. Research a Spa before even going on an interview.

An establishment with a name that alludes to 'the exotic', eroticism, risqué activities, or even 'the Orient' may not be where you want to work. If their ads show scantily clad young Asian women, that's a definite check. And if the place's hours start at 7 PM and end at 4 AM, something's up. And if you even have to ask why about any of this....please believe me that this sort of stuff goes on. Steer clear and know the territory!

If they have to buzz you in, that may be a bad sign, or just the sign of a good spa in a bad neighborhood. You have to be intelligent and intuitive and read each situation individually. (Maybe the Day Spa you interviewed at was legitimate...and kind of pretty and elegant....(once they buzzed you in, that is)... but how will you feel walking in and out into a war zone where bullets fly day and night? Not to mention that the interview now cost you $150 for a new GPS (stolen!), as well as $200 for a new side window on your Honda. (how they 'accessed' your GPS))

Finally, if they tell you that they already have a blonde and two brunettes and would really like the look of a Middle Eastern girl like YOU....know that this is definitely not a legitimate place. *NO* legitimate spa will hire Massage Therapists based on their fulfilling a certain 'look'. Be forewarned!

If they seem legit but then tell you that 'extras' will net you an additional bonus, they are not talking about doing the spa's laundry, but rather creating your own dirty laundry, both figuratively and literally! Avoid.....! And if the place says that you can choose to not do these services, and provide legitimate massage for their other clients, you should likewise avoid the place. They're probably just trying to rope you in.

On the other hand, if a Day Spa has the word 'Therapeutic' in its name, caters to a mostly female clientele (hair and nails places), or is very medically oriented, it's likely legit. If the interviewer is a smiling person who looks you in the eye and is friendly, while engaging you aqbout yoga and health topics, that's a plus. If she introduces herself as a LMT, that's a great sign.

The following questions about Massage Therapy Careers have been added July 9, 2014.

Can I choose to only work on women, as I'm a girl?

Of course, if you have religious, moral, or other reasons for only choosing to work on other women, that is entirely your decision. The same goes for men. Some spas will respect that decision; others will not. You must find a place that works with you. If your reason is religious, an employer cannot compel you to work on opposite-sex clients if that's against your religion.

What if working on the opposite gender is against my religion?

As your approach is of paramount importance, if your Massage Therapy is medically, clinically oriented, as it well should be, then you are touching a client in the same manner that a doctor would. For this reason, some religious people will work on opposite-sex clients, even when there is a general prohibition against touch of non-family members of the opposite sex. Please consult your specific faith for answers; you may or may not be allowed to work on opposite-sex clients.

What do I do if a guy touches me inappropriately while I'm working as a MT?

A client's hands should never touch, grope, or otherwise reach out to make physical contact with the therapist. Not at all! If this happens, you should end the session and see your manager, or whomever is in charge. That's an offense that should be on a one strike basis; if someone attempts to touch you, or succeeds in doing so, you are under no obligation to continue.

Such a client is attempting to take advantage of the privacy of the situation. Stay calm. You may quietly excuse yourself and quickly leave the room. A manager will probably explain to the client that he must go. This is a serious matter, and may in fact be a sexual offense in your area. You may call the police, as that is always your right.

No one should ever, EVER have to submit to another's touch under duress, or without permission, especially when the person is a qualified Massage Therapist, a legitimate health care worker, doing their job helping someone else! A massage therapy session is hardly the place for anyone to touch you, as a Massage Therapist, ever. Your personal space, and profession, should always be respected.

What if a client gives me a hug? Is that necessarily creepy?

If a client gives you a hug before or after a session, that is not always the same as what's described above. Still, that doesn't mean you must accept everyone's hugs! That's entirely your choice.

Sometimes, clients are so overcome with the joy of having a long-standing pain suddenly abate that they become quite cheerful and expressive, and may let the Massage therapist know how much they appreciate the help. Trust your instincts. If you're not creeped out, it's probably not anything to think twice about. Those same people may come back with ten referrals, family and friends. Use your heart and head to gauge a situation.

Do male Massage therapists get fewer jobs?

This is the only place you're going to read this. The short answer is.....MAYBE.

Let me explain.

There will be many instances when male clients specifically request a female therapist. If you're working in a hospital or medical office, this is less likely to be the case, just because of the medical culture. In some Day Spas, management may handle situations of requests for a female therapist by telling the client that they do not allow choice. Sometimes, men requesting female therapists are seeking something ‘extra'. Of course, this is not the case 100% of the time.

Spa Management does not want to lose its best therapists with good followings because their new clients are not carefully screened. Or it may just be against the philosophy of that particular Day Spa. Some Day Spas are run by very elagitarian-minded individuals who shun all forms of sexism. To such persons, having clients choose a therapist based on their gender is ludicrous and insulting to both men and women.

But in most places, the concierge will simply assign the person a female therapist, and not risk angering the client, or have them turn away and go elsewhere.

Some women also request female therapists. Their reasons may be religious, moral, or just a personal preference. Overall, female Massage Therapists are probably requested far more than male therapists are, by both sexes. However, at a busy spa or bustling chiro office, it won't make a difference, as male therapists will get just as many sessions by the end of the day.

In some settings, where there aren't so many clients, you may make less, as a male. You may end up standing around while the female therapists get session after session. And if you're paid by the hour, even better; you'll get to do the laundry and other Spa tasks while the female therapists do additional sessions. If you're paid by commission, try working elsewhere, or branch out and start your own business, maybe with a focus on Sports Massage, or another specialization that you're really into, like Shiatsu.

Is it legal for a client to request a male or female Massage Therapist?

It is not against the law, in any jurisdiction, to request a male or female therapist, specifically. As explained above, this may be for benign reasons, but our experience has shown that when a male or female is requested specifically, those are often the calls that end with the concierge explaining that we don't offer ‘those sorts of services', or the caller realizing that we do not provide anything beyond Therapeutic Massage, and quickly getting off the phone.

Is it right that clients can request a Massage Therapist by their gender? That seems sexist.

We agree that Therapeutic Massage is not about the therapist's sex, but their proficiency and knowledge, intuition and ability. Unless a person has a religious reason, we feel that Day Spas should not even offer a choice based on the therapist's sex. In our opinion, such practice does encourage sexism, both perpetuating negative female stereotypes and memes about Massage Therapy being something other than what it is. Such a request can be weird, or it can be totally innocent. Either way, the results are largely negative.

How much do I get an hour working as a Massage Therapist?

Massage Therapists can earn anywhere from $15 to $150 an hour. That is quite a range! Fifteen dollars is only ten percent of one hundred and fifty! But consider that to make that higher rate, you must find the right situation. You must be extremely good at what you do, and experience helps. Don't expect to make a lot right out of school, unless you are so exceptionally good that your services can demand such a fee.

Can I work at two spas at one time?

Many Massage Therapists work at more than one Day Spa simultaneously. At one time, I worked at three day spas at once! You may wonder why anyone would do this. It really is great because Spas are often looking for therapists to cover, and most spas don't require you to work a minimum number of hours per week. If you need a flexible schedule, working with more than one Day Spa is usually the best option, and if you are flexible and cover when they need coverages, they will really appreciate you, if they're a good boss. Be aware, however, that many of the larger chains or franchise Day Spas you may work at when you begin may require you to work a minimum number of hours.

Additional Questions about Massage Careers Added July 29, 2014.

What's the difference between a physical therapist and a Massage Therapist?

A physical therapist primarily works with stretching and exercising the body. While the anatomy and physiology that both professionals learn is similar, there is a vast difference in the type of hands on training that each of these professionals learns. Physical therapists are schooled in a two year program or longer, while massage therapists take a 9 month to two year program, depending on their state.

Physical therapists learn the purpose of certain stretches, and how to tailor a program to their patients. A massage therapist learns how to manipulate the soft tissues of the body to promote relaxation and healing. Physical Therapists are also trained in the use of devices to assist them with stretching, as well as the use of cryotherapy and heat therapy to assist with healing. While physical therapists work primarily with injured persons, and are covered by insurance, massage therapists can work with people who are injured as well as people who are healthy.

How do I become a massage teacher?

Massage Schools hire people who are in good standing as Massage Therapists, and are currently licensed. Having a college degree, or even some college education is helpful, but not necessary. If you are interested in teaching others the art and science of Massage Therapy at a local school, start off by getting your own degree. Once you are working for a bit, go for it. Apply for the position when it becomes available, or send in your resume so the school you like has it on file.

Alternatively, if you do really well at Massage School and earn good grades, socialize with everyone, and get to know the administrators and staff, you may inquire about staying on at the school as a teacher's aid or other staff member. You can still learn a lot working at such positions, and you may end up teaching in the future because you already work there. Just out of Massage School, it's unlikely to be hired as a Massage School teacher right away. You need some experience first. Of course, there always are exceptions to every rule.

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