Massage therapy is now recognized by many health care providers across different disciplines as being an important alternate to traditional medical treatment methods for a variety of health complaints.
In its most essential form, massage therapists use therapeutic touch to reduce tension in both muscles and soft tissues of the body. Massage therapy is in the category of “alternative health” and is the perfect career for those who value holistic health principles.
Massage Therapist Job Description
There are over 80 different treatment methods in the field of massage therapy but most therapists focus on only one or two such as reflexology, Swedish massage or deep tissue massage. The first session with a new patient is usually devoted to consultation with the therapist recording medical history and information about the pain or problem. If the therapist doesn’t work with the method that would be best for the patient’s condition, they will refer the case to a colleague who does focus on that specialty. In most cases, treatment sessions last from about 30 minutes for minor aches and pains to over two hours for sports injuries. Massage therapy involves rubbing oils, lotions and creams into affected muscles and tissues thereby releasing tension and build-up calcium deposits.
Massage therapists may find employment in both private and public settings, such as:
- Massage Therapy clinics
- Sports medicine centers
- Assisted living and nursing facilities
- Chiropractic offices
- Health spas
- Community-based clinics
- Franchise businesses
Job prospects are great for those who wish to become massage therapists. As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapists are expected to grow at a much faster rate than most other occupations with a 35 percent yearly increase through 2018. Growth will primarily stem from the growing appreciation from both the medical community and consumers regarding the value of massage therapy in fostering a healthy lifestyle. Growth also arises from the growing number of massage therapy franchises and sports clinics. Residents in long-term care facilities also value massage therapy to relieve unpleasant side effects of various chronic conditions, such as scoliosis (back pain) or arthritis. Finally, the field is gaining increased recognition due to the higher standards being implemented to become a Massage Therapist across all states.
Massage Therapy Education and Training
As per the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS), the minimum education requirement is a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma, However, most employers prefer candidates who have graduated from an approved massage therapy training program.
Most training programs consist of 55 hours of in-class instruction and are offered by community colleges and private vocational schools. Coursework will include human anatomy and physiology, review of musculoskeletal structures, different organ systems and tissues, kinesiology (body movement) and kinesthetics (body mechanics) body, patient confidentiality and routine office management.
Most programs will also offer a practicum experience that provide students with the opportunity to utilize different massage methods, although most programs provide instruction in only one or two modalities. You may elect to attend these programs on either a full or part time basis.
Massage therapy training programs are accredited by both the Texas State Board, along with an independent accrediting agency, The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA). COMTA is recognized by the U.S. Department of Educationas the official accreditation body of massage therapy programs.
Licensing is required to work as a massage therapist in Texas. Prospective massage therapists will need to apply for a license to practice after graduation from an approved training program.
Licensure will require that candidates pass a national certification exam administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage (NCMTMB) or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEX), offered by the Federation of State Boards of Massage Therapy (FSBMT).
Licensing is an important step in becoming a massage therapist as it raises the standards of the profession. As per the NCMTB:
For practitioners, NCBTMB certification is much more than a credential. It’s the cornerstone of a successful career. Because even if you work in a state that does not require certification, the NCBTMB credential establishes you as a dedicated professional with the knowledge and skills to uphold high standards of excellence.
And the benefits are immeasurable, national certification:
- Represents the highest standard in the field
- Communicates a commitment to safe, ethical practice
- Provides a competitive edge
- Gains visibility and credibility
- Increases employment opportunities within/between states
- Allows reimbursement by some insurance companies
- Reassures clients and employers
- Includes a listing in NCBTMB’s Find a Practitioner resource
- Establishes practitioners as healthcare providers on par with other professionals requiring certification
To learn more about the NCBTMB certification:
- For full details regarding the certification process through NCMTB visit http://www.ncbtmb.org/
- For details regarding the certification exam, review the candidate handbook available at http://www.ncbtmb.org/
- For an application to test visit http://www.ncbtmb.org/
- You may apply for Texas licensure online by visiting http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/
Massage Therapist Salary
Median earnings of Massage Therapists in select Texas cities. Figures as per Salary.com January 12, 2012.