How to Become a Masseuse: The Complete Career Guide

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Mar 30, 2021

Mar 30, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

According to research, there are over 320,000 massage therapists currently working in the US, and the number is steadily growing every single year. 

Being a massage therapist is a fulfilling and rewarding career, as you have the ability to truly make a difference in the lives of others as well as improving their quality of life. It is also a career that offers a lot of flexibility and financial abundance. 

The only question is, how to become a masseuse or massage therapist? To succeed in a massage therapist career, you need to know the best way to becoming a masseuse so you can get the best massage therapist jobs available in your area.

If you are confused with the career path of becoming a massage therapist, no need to worry! We created this guide to teach you everything you need to know about how to become a masseuse. Keep on reading to learn more.

Why Become a Massage Therapist?

Before we get started on how to become a masseuse or massage therapist, you must know the benefits of becoming one in the first place. This way, if you are on the fence if this is the right career path for you, you will fully know the answer within this first section. 

Some of the incredible benefits of becoming a massage therapist are:

  1. You can set your own hours of work with freedom and flexibility around your life schedule
  2. It allows you to travel and work from exotic and tropical places
  3. You graduate with everything you need to get a job right away
  4. You can open up your own studio, which is a very lucrative choice
  5. You help heal the pain of others with your touch
  6. Your clients look forward to seeing you
  7. Massage therapy jobs are always in high demand
  8. You get to have a licensed masseuse career
  9. You can work in various healthcare settings
  10. You have options to work in sports massage, prenatal massage, and many other opportunities

If this urged you to learn more, check out more by your local masseuse education center. Now that we covered the incredible benefits of becoming a massage therapist, we will now cover how to become a masseuse or massage therapist.

1. Make Sure You are In the Right Space

Before you commit to massage therapy school, you need to know if you are meant to become a massage therapist in the first place. You may have intentions in the right place, however, your body may not like the career, therefore limiting your ability to do the job.

Keep in mind that this career path is very demanding both physically, mentally, and sometimes emotionally and spiritually. Not only are you hands-on with your client, but if you aren't careful, you are also absorbing their energy and discussing some of their traumas and troubles.

This can be quite taxing on your emotional and physical well-being. Ensure your heart is in the right space for becoming a massage therapist before you consider starting. This isn't a career path to choose just for the money, you have to also be empathetic, caring, and desire to help others with their pain.

2. Gain Some Experience

Now that you decided that you are in the right space for this career path, you need to start gaining some experience before you decide to start schooling. We highly suggest you offer massages to your friends and family first to see how much you enjoy the experience.

Some massage therapy schools also offer an introduction to massage therapy workshops so that you can gain some knowledge and go practice before you sign up for the full program.

3. Know What Field of Study You Want

Massage therapy is not a one-size-fits-all career, as you have multiple options for your field of study. All massage therapy specialties, however, start with the same program, and then they further their education afterward. There are actually over 80 different modalities for massage therapy and multiple different places to work.

Some common areas of work for massage therapists are:

  • Sports massage or traveling with sports teams and circus
  • Geriatric massage
  • Pre and postnatal massage
  • Hospice massage 
  • Spas
  • Hospitals
  • Clinical massage
  • Post-operation massage
  • Lymphatic drainage/ Cancer patients

You do not have to know what area you want to work in, but you must keep your mind open with your future vision as to what setting you would like to work in in the future.

4. Get Licensed or Certified 

Every state has its own protocols for licensing requirements, so make sure you check your local jurisdiction for the exact requirements you need before you start your massage therapy school. This will also help you to choose the best school for your needs.

Check the national massage therapy license website to learn exactly which requirements you need to become a massage therapist. Keep in mind that if you plan on moving to another state, you will need to abide by their requirements before you can work as a massage therapist there.

The only states without a license are Oklahoma, Vermont, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Kansas. If you live in these areas, we recommend you opt for education in another state so that you are not struggling to find work if you choose to leave your state.

5. Find the Right Program for You

There are numerous opportunities when it comes to massage therapy school, and not all of them are the same. Some massage therapy schools are better than others, so you must know what to look for before you apply.

Look for a program that clearly knows the current jurisdictions and also offers a program that is directly licensed or leads to becoming licensed shortly. 

Some massage therapy schools offer room for expansion where you can upgrade to an associate's or bachelor's of health degree after finishing your program. 

The best advice is to follow your intuition when researching schools, if it doesn't feel right, it may not be the best option for you. The best schools will have high integrity with their teachings and offer some type of loan or payment plan to cover the costs of the program. 

6. Complete Your Massage Therapy Program 

The hardest part about being a massage therapist is going through and passing the program. Massage therapy school is not easy, in fact, it is one of the most demanding programs available. 

We highly suggest taking out a loan so that you can limit your need to work during the program, as you will have loads of homework to do. Memorization is one of the most difficult aspects of the program, you will need to know every name of every square inch of the human body, at a superficial level. 

There are many tools and tricks to help you get through the program, including:

  • Purchase anatomy coloring books and flashcards
  • Learn tricks to improve your memory
  • Join a study group
  • Hire a mentor or tutor to help you
  • Choose to lessen your workload by having fewer courses at a time, which will also extend the duration of your program

Many states require at least 500-600 hours of training to become licensed, so make sure your program includes this length of hours.

7. Become Certified

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about massage therapy school is that you become certified through the school. This is not true, as the schooling prepares you for your certification board exams but it does not actually certify you. 

After you finish your program, you and your fellow co-students will need to undergo the certification process which usually includes a lengthy exam and a physical massage test by one of their adjudicators. This is especially important if you plan on opening up your own massage clinic.

8. Decide on Your Specialty

Many massage therapists finish school not knowing exactly where they want to work when they are finished school. Do not worry if this happens to you, as it can be quite confusing to know where exactly your placement should be. 

It is best to gain some experience first in a clinic before you make that decision. This way you will notice what type of clients you love to work with the most, and where you have the most knowledge. The more people you can massage, the sooner you will come to making this decision.

9. Set Up Your Business

Setting up your massage therapy business is similar to other types of businesses, you need a registration number, employer identification number (from the IRS), and to apply for the name of your business. You will also need to get insurance for your business, which not only protects your clients but you as well in the case of a lawsuit.

Learn More About How to Become a Masseuse 

Now that you know why you should become a masseuse, and how to become a masseuse, it is time to get started!

If you are still unsure about the right career path for you, check out our informative articles that describe different career choices for more information.