Getting a massage can be very a very therapeutic experience. It can ease a lot of the pain that comes with different conditions such as chronic pain, headaches and stress injuries. It can also promote overall wellness and improve relaxation.
What Is a Massage Therapist Job?
Being a massage therapist is a lot more work than many think. During the day, a massage therapist can treat up to five or six clients. With each session lasting between 60-90 minutes, it can be a long day, and is a very physically demanding job. It requires a lot of strength and stamina.
A massage therapist's job is just like any other industrial or physical therapist’s job. They are trained to treat clients through different advanced massaging techniques. These methods are used to manipulate the muscles in the body.
As a therapist it is important to know when and how to say no to a client. Sometimes a patient may be suffering from a condition that can be made worse by the massage. This can include open wounds and sores, burns or inflammatory conditions. In this case, it is vital that the massage therapist stays calm and explains the situation to the client. They may need to refer the patient to a medical professional.
There are quite a few choices to make when becoming a massage therapist. Such as the setting you would like to work in. Some choose to work at spas, whereas others choose hospitals or medical facilities, hotels or fitness centers.
The setting a therapist works at has a great influence of their day. Working in a spa you will probably work more with clients just needing a relaxing massage. But working in a medical facility you will have to work alongside doctors and chiropractors. Many choose to start their career this way because it is a great way to build your reputation.
A massage therapy license is a rather new rule compared to other disciplines. Which is why the process in getting the license can vary from state to state. There is a lot of different information online depending on where the license issues. The two foremost requirements are:
Some states require a background check, taking out a liability insurance and training. The process of getting the license can take a long time.
- Anatomy and physiology.
- Health and hygiene.
- General massage therapy theory and techniques.
- Business and ethics.
- Pathology; knowledge of muscles, soft-tissue muscles, and skin disorders.
The student must complete a total of 500 to 1000 hours of qualifying education. This may vary depending on the state's requirements. They will also have to complete a CPR training course and get certified. This has to be renewed every few years.
When becoming a massage therapist there is a lot more that goes in to it than many realize. It requires good knowledge of not only the body and the different muscles. But also a good understanding of how the mind and body is connected.
A massage therapist is not only there to give a relaxing massage. The therapist knows exactly where to put pressure in order to, for example, cure or ease a headache, or rehabilitate an injured muscle.
Education Through Apprenticeship
Some states allow you to get trained through an apprenticeship. The apprentice needs to have a sponsor who has practised for a certain amount of years (depending on the state's requirements).
The apprenticeships must be done at an approved establishment. There has to be textbooks and educational materials of certain subjects available, such as:
- Massage theory.
The apprenticeships can last 12 to 24 months depending on the state’s requirements.
Documentation of the Education
One of the major requirements are education. Documenting the process is an important part in getting licensed. It can be done in multiple ways depending on what the state requires. Some states need an official transcript from the massage therapist school or program.
An education verification form will be an addition to the transcript. Some states allow the form to be a replacement for the recorded material. The verification form must be done by a representative of the school or program.
A high school diploma or GED is required by most states.
Most states require the student to take a licensing examination test. This is usually done through the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). This process is done electronic and is rather quick. After completing the MBLEx you can send your scores straight to the licensing agency you select. Most states operate using the MBLEx. Many of the previous National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork examinations are no longer available, these include:
- The National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage, NCETM.
- The National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, NCETMB.
- The National Exam for State Licensure, NESL.
These are no longer available, though some states do still accept them if they were completed before a certain date. In some states the student is also required to take a jurisprudence exam. This test will include massage-related subjects such as laws, rules and ethics.
In most states, this is a formal examination which takes place at the Board office. They usually schedule this at certain times during the year. This exam can be taken online in some instances.
Other states only need the student to affirm they have read the applicable laws and regulations.
It may be required by some states to have a fingerprint-based background screening. In most cases there will be an approved provider that the student must use. This would typically be one who administers scanned fingerprint services.
Generally there will be an ORI number, or agency number, that you will have to provide. You can find this information in the application packet.
Some states perform name-based background checks. Questions about criminal history will be asked to answer. In some states a criminal conviction is not disqualifying. Though you will be asked to provide detailed information.
There usually is two parts you will be asked to provide:
- Official documents.
- Self-explained documents.
Preparing the Application
When preparing the application, some states need one or more passport photos. Most states need you to document that you are over 18 years old.
Some states also need you to provide proof of citizenship or if you hold another legal status. This can easily be done by adding a photocopy of your driver’s license or ID card.
The application process can take time. But to make sure no time is wasted, it's important to make sure you have included all the right information needed.
When attending a massage therapy school, it is important to check if the school or program, is approved! If you attend an unapproved school your application will be considered incomplete. In this instance some states can halt the application until the student has completed qualifying training.
A liability insurance is an insurance a person can make that can protect them from being sued or held legally responsible. It will protect the massage therapist from legal action should an injury or malpractice occur.
It will however not protect the individual against intentional damage. Some states does require the student to take out this insurance.
Why Does a Massage Therapist Need This Insurance?
Being a massage therapist you often deal with people with different conditions. Anything can happen so it is good for the individual to have this insurance to make sure they are protected if injury or damage were to happen.
The massage therapist industry is very strict when it comes to when and where you can work. Just because you get a license in one state doesn't mean it is legal for you to work in another.
Some states require additional exams if the therapist comes from out of state. If you are an experienced massage therapist you may be asked to provide documents of the amount of hours spend in training and examination.
It is also not allowed for any massage therapist to work without a valid license.
The application fee usually stands between $100 and $500. This will vary depending on the state. Some states can issue a partial refund.
In some states there is a fee for the jurisprudence exam, this is around $35
Some states also charge for the examination. The students using the MBLEx test will have to be prepared to pay a fee of $195.
When it comes to renewing a license most states will send out a notification a couple of months prior to the expiration date. If you would like to renew your license you will have to fill out an application. In some states you can do this online.
Make sure you renew your license in time! Most states don't allow renewal of an expired license. If you missed the deadline you will have to start over again by applying for a new license.
Renewal fees are anywhere between $50 to $500 depending on the state.