Becoming a licensed massage therapist can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice. As a licensed massage therapist, you’ll have the opportunity to help people alleviate pain, reduce stress, and improve their overall well-being through the power of touch. This step-by-step guide will outline the necessary steps to follow in order to become a licensed massage therapist.
Step 1: Research the Requirements in the State where you want to work or start your business: Start by researching the requirements for becoming a licensed massage therapist in your state. Each state has very different requirements as far as the number of hours required to become licensed in that state. There are still a few states that do not have state licensing but they do have city/county requirements. The massage schools in your area should know this, but it is helpful to know this before going into schools so you can ask better questions and validate their information.
Step 2: Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent: Most jurisdictions require a high school diploma or equivalent for entry into massage therapy training programs. If you haven’t already, obtain your diploma or GED.
Step 3: Choose a Massage Therapy School: Look for massage therapy schools in your area. Many online websites recommend accredited schools yet there are many that are not accredited and are just as good. Accreditation is said to ensure that you receive quality education and training that meets industry standards. The schools have gone through an intense process of assessing their curriculum, testing process, teacher requirements and other factors and have received accreditation through an accrediting agency. Consider factors such as program duration, curriculum, class sizes, and hands-on training opportunities. There are also a few different types of massage schools : proprietary ( individually owned and managed), corporate ( run by large companies), college massage programs (mostly 2 year degrees but a few 4 year degrees), non-profit massage schools and publicly run massage schools.
Step 4: Enroll in a Massage Therapy Program: Enroll in a reputable massage therapy program that meets the requirements of your jurisdiction. These programs typically cover anatomy, physiology, massage techniques, ethics, and business practices. Programs can vary in length, ranging from several months to two years. The process of finding a school is to balance out the need to be financially possible and be able to get to easily with schools that are the best for you. The state board of massage in your state may also require that you attend an approved massage school and will provide a list of them for you to choose from. They take a look at specific requirements, curriculum, teachers and other things to help ensure they are legit massage schools.
Step 5: Complete Required Training Hours: As part of your massage therapy program, you’ll need to complete a certain number of training hours, both in-class and hands-on. These hours are designed to ensure that you’re proficient in various massage techniques and can provide safe and effective treatments. The hours are determined by the State Massage Board in your state and some require that you attend an approved massage school. Many schools offer more than the required amount of hours. You have to decide for yourself how much help you will need in learning the material and moving forward. If you are a solid student and self-starter, you may be OK with just the minimum amount of schooling. You will always be learning more as you work and move forward as many states require continuing education classes to renew your license each year.
Step 6: Obtain Hands-On Experience: During your training, you’ll have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through practical sessions and internships. This experience is crucial for developing your skills and confidence as a massage therapist. Work on as many people as you can in school and practice on your friends and family at home. (They will become your clients later!)
Step 7: Pass the Licensing Exam: Most jurisdictions require massage therapists to pass a licensing exam to demonstrate their knowledge and competency. The Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) is a common exam that covers various aspects of massage therapy. Study thoroughly and prepare for the exam. A few states have their own exam like Hawaii and Texas. If you think you will ever move, you might want to consider taking the MBLEx too as most states will require it.
Step 8: Apply for Licensure: After passing the licensing exam, you can apply for a massage therapy license with the appropriate licensing board in your state or country. This application process may include submitting transcripts, exam scores, and application fees.
Step 9: Consider Specialization: While not mandatory, consider specializing in a specific area of massage therapy, such as sports massage, prenatal massage, or aromatherapy. Specializations can set you apart and attract a specific client base.
Step 10: Maintain Continuing Education: To maintain your massage therapy license, you’ll may need to participate in continuing education courses and complete other requirements. It is up to you to know what is needed for renewal. Right now the way CE is set up in the US, is a mess. They do not really “continue your education” from what you learned in massage school. Each state varies on what they require and what they accept in the matter of CE.
Becoming a licensed massage therapist requires dedication, education, and training, but the rewards are well worth the effort. By following this step-by-step guide, you’ll be on your way to a fulfilling career where you can positively impact the lives of others through the healing power of touch.