The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Massage Therapist
Massage therapy is a beneficial practice that helps those in pain find relief. And not just physical relief, but stress can melt away at the touch of the practiced massage therapist. Whether it's reflexology, sports massage, or energy work like Reiki, massage therapy can be both a rewarding and fulfilling career. But how does one start the journey to becoming a therapist?
As a leader in the massage therapy industry, it seemed only fitting to create a guide to help those interested in becoming a massage therapist learn the in’s and out’s before getting started.
Of What Duration Is Massage Therapy School?
Massage school can take as little as 5 months or as long as a year to complete. Choosing a school is not always an easy choice. Massage therapy school is a serious investment in time, effort, energy, and, of course, money. Massage schools are for-profit institutions and while there are many scholarships out there, you still need to consider all aspects of starting a program.
Massage Therapy School Requirements
In order to get the best value for the investment you are making in massage therapy school, you need to first make sure is accredited. There are several accrediting bodies, but one of the most highly respected comes through the The Commission Of Massage Accreditation, which itself has met the standard of the U.S. Department of Education.
There are also many massage therapy trade schools and vocational training centers that provide education. The most important aspect is to make sure the program you are looking at is approved by your state board before you undertake a program.
What is Massage School Like?
Once you choose a school for progressing through your massage therapy coursework, you will usually find you are taking a blend of online and in-person learning. There will be quizzes and final exams just like in any college course but answering the question of “how long does it take to be a massage therapist?” is going to depend on the program. State boards for massage therapy have minimum amounts of training that must be completed in order to apply for a massage license and become a full-fledged licensed massage therapist (LMT).
Bottom line, you can expect between 500 hours and 1,500 hours for the typical program which translates into anywhere from a few months to six months or more, depending on the program.
Getting Your Massage Therapy License
Once you have met all the requirements of your state board in regards to massage therapist course duration and the number of hours you need, you will usually have the opportunity to apply to sit for a state exam like the MBLEx. This exam is extensive and covers a wide range of the most applicable material from your training. However, the requirements just to be able to sit for this exam vary from state to state so your first stop needs to be your state board of massage therapy so you know exactly what you need to cover.
For example, the Florida Board of Massage Therapy has the following requirements in order to apply to take the exam:
- Have taken at least 500 hours of training from a Florida Board-approved program.
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Complete a background screening.
- If you graduated from an accredited school that required 500+ hours of training and you already have a license from another state then you may be able to just do an endorsement to get your LMT in Florida. If not, you will still need to take the exam to move forward with licensure.
- Submit the application and a fee to the Florida Board.
Once you have met all of these requirements, then you can sit for the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). Some state boards, like Florida, also require you to have taken a certain amount of hours regarding local laws and regulations affecting massage therapists. Meeting all of these requirements and passing the MBLEx is generally all that’s required to have your massage license issued.
How To Become A Massage Therapist In Your Location
Now, just meeting all the requirements for becoming a massage therapist in your state is only step one in a whole new career move. Your individual location is most likely going to have a slew of additional requirements that you will need to make sure you are meeting before you take on your first client.
Here’s how the process can play out for getting started as a massage therapist:
- Get massage therapy insurance: even when you are still in school, it’s a great idea to go ahead and get massage therapist insurance. MMIP offers a student policy that provides the same great coverage as we do for professionals, at a significantly discounted student rate. This provides a great coverage plan from the very start of your career and also provides a suite of additional benefits that you can start putting to work. MMIP provides our members with a free professional website and discounts on top gear, accessories, and services. Having insurance can also be a requirement from your landlord before they’ll rent a space for you to begin services.
- Find a Location: choosing a physical location usually means having a lease. Make sure to find a location that’s going to be visible, safe, and attractive for new clients but that also meets your budget. Like we stated, insurance coverage is a must and you’ll need to make sure your massage insurance covers rental damage. With MMIP, members get a full $100,000 to help cover the costs of repairs to a rented space.
- Start Marketing: the free website that comes with an MMIP massage insurance policy is a great place to start because the web is where the majority of today’s shoppers are looking for services like yours. Utilize this free website to put all of your knowledge online so you come across as an authority in your space and clients feel comfortable with the process. You can explain your credentials, the massage process, fees, and other information so that clients know exactly what to expect and are more likely to book an appointment.
If you take the time to do your homework in the planning stages, you will be far better off as you begin your massage therapy practice in the real world. Employing all the knowledge and skills you have in a professional setting and making a living from them is a very exciting time.
Continuing Education Requirements for Massage Therapists
Once you get going in your practice and are successful in your endeavor, an important aspect is to remember that almost every state board has continuing education requirements. Perhaps one of the most utilized benefits of a MMIP massage therapy insurance policy is the free and unlimited continuing education courses that are included.
We partnered with Panda Massage CEU to bring our members access to over 55 hours of the most leading-edge, dynamic, and engaging NCBTMB-approved CE courses for massage therapists on the market today. These courses are completely self-paced so you can progress through your required CEUs on your own schedule. Make sure to be aware of the requirements your state board for massage therapy lays out for continuing education so you can stay well ahead of renewal deadlines. Massage therapist course duration for CE classes can vary and also offer different levels of CEUs, so be cognizant of these details as well as you undertake the program.
Starting Your Career as a Massage Therapist
Since you are taking the time to explore everything it takes to become a massage therapist, you are already on the right track. This career takes diligence both in your application of knowledge and also in your care for the client. Unfortunately, all it can take is one slip of the hand and a client can be injured. When someone under your care is injured or has their property damaged, they may very well demand you compensate them for their losses. This is where massage insurance acts as your career’s safety net. You get to worry about all the aspects of setting up your business, running it well, and providing great service to clients while your massage insurance policy provides a wall of protection around your budding career.
The best part may be that insurance through MMIP only takes a few minutes online to set up-and at $169 per year, offers a tremendous value for all the coverage and benefits you receive. Learn more about insurance, the business of massage, compare your options, and sign up all through our convenient online system.