What is a Massage Therapist?

A massage therapist is a trained professional who uses massage to treat various conditions of the body.

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Job Description

Massage therapists are responsible for providing massages and other body treatments to their clients. They may work in a spa, clinic, or other healthcare setting, or they may be self-employed. Massage therapists typically have an interest in the Creating interest area, according to the Holland Code framework. The Creating interest area indicates a focus on being original and using one’s imagination.


A Massage Therapist is an individual who has completed an accredited massage therapy program and has passed a written and practical exam. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) offers the Board Certification in Massage Therapy (BCTMB). This credential is the highest level of certification available for massage therapists in the United States.


The field of massage therapy is growing rapidly. Employment of massage therapists is expected to increase by 22% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.1

A career in massage therapy starts with completing a massage therapy program at an accredited school. To be accredited, a massage therapy school must meet certain standards set forth by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA).2

There are more than 300 accredited massage therapy schools and programs in the United States.3 Some programs may offer specialty tracks, such as sports massage or reflexology. Programs typically range from 500 to 1,000 hours of study and may take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to complete.4 Once you have completed an accredited program, you will then need to pass a state or national certification exam in order to become licensed.5

1 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm#tab-6
2 https://www.comta.org/
3 https://www.abmp.com/about-abmp/accredited-schools?location=US&program=MT&submit=Filter+Schools
4 https://www.amtamassage.org/?id=10761&sid=73:education-overview#sthash.RsG8PyEO.dpbs
5 https://www.amtamassage.org/?id=10763&sid=73:licensure


Massage therapists must complete a training program and pass a written and practical exam in order to be certified. The McLaren Health Care College of Medicine offers a two-year full-time program that results in an Associate’s degree, as well as certification. Once certified, massage therapists must complete continuing education courses in order to maintain their certification.

Work Environment

Most massage therapists work in clean, comfortable offices. They may be solo practitioners or work as part of a team of massage therapists. Some massage therapists travel to clients’ homes or offices to give a massage.

Massage therapists typically work on their feet and may be on call frequently. They may work evenings or weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules. When working with clients, they may be exposed to body fluids.


In May 2019, the median annual salary for massage therapists was $41,420. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,880, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,980.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for massage therapists is very good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in this field will grow by 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. population continues to grow, more people will seek out massage therapy to relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve their overall health. There will also be an increasing number of baby boomers who seek massage therapy to maintain their health as they age.

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