The Benefits and Requirements Of Becoming A Licensed Massage Therapist

  • Benefits
  • Requirements
  • Environment – Types of Massage Modalities
  • Job Opportunities
  • Earning Power


Working full time for an employer the massage therapist has the opportunity to receive standard benefits, such as health insurance and vacation time. Often some employers offer additional perks, such as commissions and bonuses, free or discounted massages, continuing education classes and liability insurance.

Many massage therapists work part-time, which gives them time to attend to other activities or even get a second job. Self-employed masseuses also can create their own schedules. This flexibility allows them to take time off work as needed for personal and family appointments or vacations.


Becoming a registered or licensed massage therapist typically requires graduation from an accredited 500-plus hour training program, passing either the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards or the NCETM/NCETMB licensing exam offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, passing a background check and paying a fee. Continuing education is typically required for license renewal.


Massage therapists may work independently for a large variety of employers in the personal services and healthcare industries. The environment may be public or private, ranging from spas to hospitals.

Massage therapist may operate their own practices out of their homes or they may rent an office space. They may even travel to their clients’ homes. Alternatively, you may work in spas, fitness centers, and chiropractor or doctor offices.

Massage therapists work by appointment thus being able to set their own schedule to accommodate their lives. As of 2010, only 25 percent of massage therapists worked full-time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Types of Massage Therapy

Swedish massage is one of the most common types of massage therapy. It involves using long strokes, kneading tight muscles, applying circular pressure to reach deeper layers of muscle, and tapping the muscles with cupped hands or the edge of the hand.

Deep tissue massage works deeper layers of muscle and tissue and is ideal for relieving chronic pain and tension in the body.

Sports massage uses techniques specific to the athlete’s needs. Before an event, sports massage loosens and prepares muscle for the strain of performance and helps reduce injury. Sports massage also helps the athlete recover faster after an event.

Other Massage Modalities

You can choose to specialize in one or many types of massage. LSMS offers Spotlight Modalities and guest speakers to teach more specialized forms of massage. Some areas of specialties include:

Shiatsu massage and trigger point therapy; which involve using the fingers to apply pressure to the acupuncture points on the body.

Acupressure; uses finger pressure to mobilize chi — or life force energy — at specific spots on the body called acupressure points,

Reflexology; is a type of foot massage used to affect other parts of the body. Thai massage uses a combination of stretching and joint mobilization.

Pregnancy massage; addresses the specific needs of pregnant women.

Aromatherapy; essential oils can provide healing, soothing, and relaxing effects to get the most benefit from your massage session.

Cranialsacral; a gentle, noninvasive form of bodywork that addresses the bones of the head, spinal column and sacrum used to release compression in those areas which alleviates stress and pain.

Hot Stones; a specialty massage where the therapist uses smooth, heated stones by placing them on the body, the heat can be both deeply relaxing and help warm up tight muscles so the therapist can work more deeply, more quickly.

Lymphatic Drainage; is a type of massage to encourage the natural drainage of the lymph, which helps eliminate your body’s waste.

Thai Massage; an ancient healing system combining acupressure, Indian Ayurvedic principles, and assisted yoga postures.

Myofascial Release; is manual technique for stretching the fascia with the aim to balance the body.

Job Opportunities

LSMS curriculum is 525 hour and 12 months, including a classroom component and many hours of hands-on practice. It is our promise to our students to prepare them for not only the necessary tests but also to assist them in understanding the business aspect of becoming a massage therapist.

Forty-three states and the District of Columbia regulate massage therapists. Some of these states mandate a state license to practice, typically requiring passing an exam offered by a professional organization or passing a state massage therapist exam. A growing number of cities and counties also have massage therapist regulations. Some massage therapists pursue a National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork certification.

Earning Power

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 20 percent growth in masseuse jobs between 2010 and 2020. The demand is somewhat attributed to a greater recognition of the healing benefits of massage.

Clients pay per hour or per service, and regularly give tips. Massage therapists might earn a moderate income when working for an employer, but they can set their own fees when they work for themselves. The earning potential increases as a masseuse builds a reputation, increases their knowledge, incorporate other modalities into their practice, and the client list grows.

The average annual salary of a massage therapist varies:

  • $40,350 in May 2012, according to the BLS, or $19.40 per hour. The top 10 percent made more than $70,140 annually.
  • Some of the highest earning are in Nursing care facilities with an average of $56,790, according to 2012 BLS data.
  • Those employed by technical schools and offices of physicians made $51,060 and $50,520 per year, respectively.
  • Massage therapists earned salaries closer to the national average of $40,350 at offices of health practitioners — $43,410 annually.
  • Offices of health practitioners include massage clinics or other medical facilities where they work.
  • Massage therapists made $37,980 in the personal care services industry — health spas, for example.
  • In 2012, massage therapists earned the highest salaries of $84,120 in Alaska, according to the BLS, and the second-highest salaries of $58,050 in Vermont. They made $53,760 in the state of Washington, while those in Delaware averaged $51,540. Hawaii employers paid their massage therapists $40,630, which is closer to the national average for all massage therapists. In California and Colorado, massage therapists earned $39,770 and $37,170, respectively. Nevada paid the lowest salaries for massage therapists, among the states listed — $28,150. In 2016,
  • 160,300 people were employed in the U.S. as massage therapists.

 Statistics taken from:

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