To get a sneak peek at becoming a massage therapist, you can start right here. The questions and answers below can give you an easy-to-digest look at some critical topics. Learn about what you need to consider before you enroll, what you learn in massage school, and if there are master courses. We also help you comprehend critical questions that concern cost, licensing requirements, and more. It can be intimidating trying to learn everything at once, so use these questions and answers to get started.
If you are considering enrolling in massage and bodywork training, you are probably curious about how much the program costs, how long it will take to complete, what you will learn in the program, and more. Beauty Schools Directory has answered many of the most common questions about the education that helps you become a licensed massage therapist (LMT), so you can decide whether taking the next step in your career is the right decision for you.
Massage therapy is the field of wellness and bodywork that focuses almost exclusively on the manipulation of muscle and tissue to enhance performance and function, relieve pain and stress, and promote overall health and wellness in the body. During your training you will learn subjects such as anatomy and physiology (bones, organs and tissues), kinesiology (motion and mechanics), pathology (diseases and conditions), business ethics, and more. Below is a list of potential classes you may see in your school’s curriculum, but it is not an exhaustive list:
- Anatomy & Physiology
- History of Massage
- Pathology, Diseases & Conditions
- Benefits & Effects of Massage
- Business Ethics & Boundaries
- Massage Laws & Regulations
- Safety, Sanitation & Sterilization
- Client Assessment & Consultation
- Treatment Selection & Planning
- Business Management – Marketing, Finance, etc.
- Massage Modalities (Sweedish, Deep Tissue, Shiatso, Thai, Sports, Hot Stone, Lymphatic, Prenatal, etc.)
- Myofascial Therapies
- Alternative/Chinese Medicine (Meridian, Acupressure, etc.)
- Energy Work
Massage school will involve a combination of training methods, including lecture from professors, hands-on practice with fellow students, and then real-life work on clients from the community. This training helps prepare you to succeed on your written and practical exams to get licensed.
Do these classes sound incredibly interesting to you? Find schools near you to compare your options.
There are many options for massage therapists to continue their education with either advanced courses or master-level classes. There are lots of ways you can hone your skills and become more specialized in a specific massage technique or modality to set yourself apart from others, too. Some states even offer Master-level practitioners’ licenses. As mentioned above in the board exams Q&A, many therapists decide to pursue board certification, which may call for additional training and certifications.
Professional body workers may wish to look for advanced or master courses at conferences, workshops or seminars, through online or book training guides, or state board approved continuing education courses.
Most massage therapist schools require you to be at least 16 years of age, and have achieved either a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Check with your state or your potential schools before you enroll to be sure. Take a look at our enrollment requirements page to learn more. Contact your state's licensing department to verify if any changes have been made in the enrollment requirements.
The cost of tuition for massage schools can range depending on the courses in the curriculum, hours of instruction required by your state, as well as location, facilities, and equipment required to purchase for your program. Because of the cost of business facilities, massage and bodywork schools inside or close to major metropolitan cities like Los Angeles or Chicago will likely cost a little more, whereas smaller, more rural areas or suburbs that may be accessible with a bit of a commute may be cheaper. For each massage school you're interested in, be sure to ask admissions reps what their tuition costs are and what exactly this costs includes – such as textbooks, lotions and oils, massage tables or chairs, and so on. Massage schools that teach around the national average of 500-600 hours tend to have tuition that costs on average $6,000 to $10,000, including the cost of textbooks and supplies.
Everyone is looking for something different when it comes to choosing a massage school. If cost is at the forefront of your mind, be sure to ask the schools you contact about their accreditation, the availability of financial aid, whether they have scholarships you can apply for, if they do financing or have payment plans, and for tips on how you can keep the costs down. Also consider asking about whether they offer job placement assistance after you graduate, which can make paying off the school expense less intimidating.
After completing your education program, many massage students take one of the written national examinations for therapeutic massage and bodywork. This test is administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). About 80% of states (all but 11) use the NCBTMB board exam. Other states may use the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) from the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB).
Licensing is different than NCBTMB board certification, which requires 250 hours minimum of hands-on experience, at least 750 hours of education (which includes the hours you earn in your initial training program to get licensed), passing a background check, and CPR certification.