Is becoming a massage therapist right for me?

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What do massage therapists do?
Career Satisfaction
Are massage therapists happy with their careers?
What are massage therapists like?

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How to become a Massage Therapist

To become a massage therapist, here are the general steps you would typically follow:

  • Research State Requirements: Understand the specific requirements for becoming a licensed massage therapist in the state where you plan to practice. State regulations can vary, so it's important to familiarize yourself with the educational, examination, and licensing requirements specific to your location.
  • Complete a Massage Therapy Program: Enroll in an accredited massage therapy program. These programs are typically offered by vocational schools, community colleges, or specialized massage therapy schools. Choose a program that meets the requirements of the state licensing board and provides comprehensive training in massage techniques, anatomy, physiology, ethics, and business practices.
  • Fulfill Educational Hours: Complete the required number of educational hours as mandated by your state. The number of hours can vary, but it is typically around 500-1,000 hours of coursework and hands-on training.
  • Obtain CPR and First Aid Certification: Many states require massage therapists to hold current CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and first aid certifications. Complete the necessary training and obtain certifications from recognized providers.
  • Pass Licensing Exam(s): Most states require massage therapists to pass a licensing exam to demonstrate their competency. The most commonly recognized exam is the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). Prepare for the exam by studying relevant textbooks and taking practice tests.
  • Apply for State License: Once you have completed your education, fulfilled the required hours, and passed the licensing exam, you can apply for a massage therapy license with your state's licensing board. Submit the necessary application forms, along with any required documents, fees, and proof of education and examination.
  • Continuing Education: Many states have continuing education requirements for massage therapists to maintain their licenses. Stay updated with the latest developments in the field and fulfill the ongoing educational requirements as mandated by your state.

There are several certifications available for massage therapists that can enhance their professional credentials and demonstrate their specialized skills and expertise. Here are a few notable certifications:

  • Board Certification in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCTMB): Offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), this certification recognizes advanced knowledge and skills in various massage modalities. It requires meeting specific education and experience requirements, passing the BCTMB exam, and adhering to the NCBTMB's Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
  • Certified Massage Therapist (CMT): The Certified Massage Therapist designation is offered by various state massage therapy boards. It signifies that the therapist has met the educational and examination requirements mandated by the state regulatory body and is authorized to practice massage therapy professionally.
  • Certified Sports Massage Therapist: This certification focuses on providing massage therapy services tailored to athletes and individuals engaged in sports activities. Organizations such as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) and the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) offer specialized certifications in sports massage.
  • Certified Pediatric Massage Therapist: This certification is designed for massage therapists who specialize in working with infants, children, and adolescents. It provides specialized training and knowledge in pediatric massage techniques, indications, contraindications, and considerations specific to this population.
  • Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist: This certification focuses on the specialized skills and knowledge required to provide safe and effective massage therapy for pregnant women. It covers prenatal massage techniques, anatomy and physiology during pregnancy, and considerations for working with prenatal clients.