Your career in massage starts with choosing the massage school that will best meet your needs for time and money spent. You will need to be able to pass the licensing requirements in your state which usually is to pass the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) offered by the Federation of Massage State Boards. Some state laws will also have exemptions in their state massage licensing laws that will allow you to practice under specific examptions such as going to a school of Structural Integration or have specific laws for practicing Reflexology or Animal Massage for example.
Here are some important things to look for and consider when choosing a massage school:
- Visit the school! Many will offer tours. Take one or two! Is it neat and clean and do you feel comfortable there? Many schools offer introductory events where they provide more information on careers and their school. Some actually offer a half day or full day class of massage to give you an idea of what it will be like. Yes you will have to touch people of all sorts!
- Will you be able to afford massage school? Many have payment options or will help you find scholarships or loans. The best school is not often the cheapest. It pays to get the best education that you can.
- How much time will the classes take? There are usually day, evening and weekend classes available so you can fit them into your schedule. Many continue to work while going to massage school. Most massage school training lasts at least 6 months and usually it takes a year of training. The shortest class will get you started the fastest, but may not always be the best option for you. It depends on many things like your study habits and abilty to process information.
- Where it it located? Is it close to home or will you have more travel time and expenses? While finding a massage school close to home is always the easiest choice, it is not always the best choice as far as getting the best education.
- Will the school help you find a job after graduation or help you set up and run your own business? Many schools will offer job fairs and job placement services to help you in this area. As far as setting up and running your own business, massage school will usually have a very short class on that. The focus of massage school is teaching you massage. You will need to have business skills if you want to start your own business.
- What is the pass/fail rate of students graduating from the school? Schools often keep track of their pass/fail rates and it may be required if the school has some accreditation.
- Does the school offer the most up-to-date information on massage and how/why it works? The Entry Level Analysis Project (ELAP) has provided a comprehensive look at the compentencies needed for a school to teach an entry level massage therapist. Many schools will use this as a basis for their curriculums. Evidence informed curriculms are also an advantage today. (Many massage schools teach outdated curriculms based on pseudoscience, metphysics or are based on traditional methods. Your school should tell you what they use in their currriculums.)
Massage Schools are Marketing to You.
Schools websites are filled with information to try to get you to choose their school. Many will advertise things like their school is the shortest program that will get you started the quickest and get you out working sooner. They will also present salary information that will make a career in massage look amazing. Do you research and investigate Salary information and business opportunities.
Find out if the school has programs to put you into the wellness/health promotion tract and/or the Medical Tract. Most people will not actually know which path that you will want to start out it. You can really start with either and your continuing education will fill in later and let you go where you want to go.
If it is too good to be true, it might be just that. Schools offering online edcuation for more than half of what other schools are charging usually have a catch like having to work for them for a certain amout of time in their spa or franchise.