If you’re eager to become a massage therapist, you’re in luck; a typical massage therapy education program can be completed in as little as a year.
Massage therapy is a booming career, with significant growth expected over the next decade. There are several terrific massage therapy education programs available, with a number of options to suit all learning styles.
Massage Therapy Schools
There are thousands of massage therapy education programs to choose from. To choose one, you will have to figure out which one will most benefit you. For instance, if you prefer working at your own pace, you may want to enroll in an online massage therapy education program.
A school’s accreditation is another important thing to consider when making your final enrollment decision. Accreditation is voluntary and not all schools have been approved. Earning accreditation indicates that the school’s massage therapy education meets the standards set by the accrediting organization. The most popular of these organizations for massage therapy schools is the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COTMA).
Massage Therapy Courses
Whether or not your massage therapy education is geared towards preparing you for national certification, you will take a wide variety of massage therapy courses. Massage therapy students study anatomy and physiology to better understand the building blocks of the human body. They also learn the history and theory of massage, proper hygiene, pathology, self-care, and the health benefits of massage. Some programs offer courses in professional ethics, as massage therapy involves a certain level of intimacy with clients.
Your massage therapy education will also teach you about specialized areas of massage, called modalities. Some of these may include chair, deep tissue, Shiatsu, Swedish, sports, and acupressure massage. Certain massage therapy education programs also have courses in aromatherapy, reflexology, and hydrotherapy. These spa techniques are great resume enhancers that equip you with a unique skill set.
Massage Therapy Training and Certification
Many massage therapists seek national massage therapy certification to launch a successful career. There are two ways to become certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).
- The National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB)
- The National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM)
Both tests cover the topics you will learn throughout your massage therapy education.
Massage therapists are certified based upon the amount of hours they have spent training. In order to be eligible for the certification exams, you must first complete 500 hours of massage therapy training. Your massage therapy education program can help you land entry-level massage therapist jobs and externships in order to build up hours of experience. An externship will involve hands-on work as a masseuse under the supervision of an instructor or licensed massage therapist.
Your massage therapy education program can prepare you for taking the national certification exam in as little as 1,000 hours, with an externship included. To become eligible for the national certification exam, students must complete at least 500 hours of coursework, though individual States may require more or less. With a full-time schedule, it is possible to become a licensed massage therapist in less than a year.