How To Become a Massage Therapist: 10 Practical Tips

How to become a massage therapist

According to statistics, massage therapy is a growing industry in the United States, with an increasing demand for skilled and knowledgeable therapists.

Starting a massage therapist business can be rewarding, as it offers countless opportunities for professionals looking to help others in their healing and relaxation journey. However, it can also be challenging, as you will need to establish a client base, set prices, and manage your daily operations.

To get you one step closer to this career path, here are some practical tips on how to become a massage therapist that will help you start your journey soon enough!

1. Do some research


Before learning how to become a massage therapist, it is important to research the requirements in your state because each one has its own set of requirements for becoming certified. This may include completing a certain number of hours of training, passing an exam, or obtaining an insurance.

When doing your research, make sure to check the costs of renting a room in a salon. In the United States, the rent can vary from city to city, but prices range between $200-$800. On the other hand, if you want to be self-employed, you must take into account in your research phase what costs it implies (equipment, suppliers, promotion, etc.). Also, make sure to investigate the requirements for legally operating a massage business in your country.

2. Get your massage therapist certification and license


Most states require to complete between 500 and 1000 hours of training. The training includes instructions, practice, and clinical experience. During the training, you will learn various massage techniques. Once you have completed your training on how to become a massage therapist, you will need to obtain a business license and liability insurance, which is essential for massage therapists. It protects you in the event of a client injury or other legal issues. You can obtain one with an insurance company. 

Massage therapy license vs. certification

There are some differences between licenses and certifications that not many people know about. 

A massage therapy license is a requirement in most states that allows individuals to practice massage therapy legally. To obtain a massage therapy license, you must apply for a state license, pass the licensing exam, and meet any additional requirements set by your state’s licensing board. Massage therapy license requirements vary by state and are awarded by a governmental agency, so it’s important to check with your state’s licensing board to determine the specific requirements in your area.

Massage therapy certifications are typically offered by professional organizations such as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) or the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). To become certified, you have to meet certain education and training requirements, pass a certification exam, and demonstrate your skills.

3. Develop a business plan


Before starting your massage therapist business, it is important to develop a business plan, this way you will define your goals, identify your market, and create a plan to achieve success. Your business plan should include a description of your business, industry analysis, your pricing, and financial projections, client persona, and many more. Here is a detailed massage therapy business plan template you can use to start out.

4. Choose your business type


Working as a massage therapist in a good, popular location can play a significant role in your business success. You should choose a location that is easily accessible and near other businesses that complement your services, like yoga studios or health food stores. However, a good location for your practice can mean high rental costs that you might not afford in the beginning of your career.

Another solution for massage therapists is to work at a client’s home or office, including companies. In fact, this type of mobile massage service is becoming increasingly popular among businesses looking to offer their clients wellness benefits at home. 

Being a mobile massage therapist is convenient for the client, who doesn’t have to drive to your location for the massage session. This can be especially appealing for busy professionals who don’t have a lot of free time during the workday.

For companies, offering on-site massage services can be a way to improve employee morale, reduce stress, and increase productivity. Studies have shown that massage therapy can help reduce stress, improve mood, and reduce pain, which can all lead to increased productivity and fewer sick days.

5. Purchase your equipment


If you are wondering how to become a massage therapist, you must know that having the right equipment is essential to providing high-quality services to your clients. Here is most important massage therapist equipment:

  • Massage table: A massage table is a key piece of equipment for any massage therapist. Look for a table that is sturdy, comfortable, and adjustable to accommodate different body types and positions. You can find professional massage tables here and affordable ones here. You can check the advantages and figure out which one works better for you. As a tip, if you work only in a fixed location, I’d highly recommend you have a comfortable, solid, and fixed massage table. It not only offers more stability to your client on the table but also more comfort, as you are able to adapt its position and height. 
  • Massage chair: A massage chair is a great option for mobile massage therapists who work in companies or for clients who prefer to remain clothed during their sessions. Look for a chair that is lightweight, comfortable, and easy to transport. You can find professional chairs here and affordable ones here.
  • Body oils and lotions: Massage oils and lotions can help reduce friction and improve the quality of your massage. Look for products that are high-quality, hypoallergenic, and free from artificial fragrances or other irritants. You can find professional oils and lotions here, or if you wanna stand out, you can make your own and create a brand.
  • Aromatherapy kit: For a complete relaxing massage session, you can buy these essential oils set here and an oil diffuser here. The best massage therapists around the world start their massage sessions with some minutes of aromatherapy for their patient, helping them to relax faster. 
  • Hot stones: Hot stones are a must in your massage practice, as they relieve muscle tension and reduce stress. Here is a good portable massage stone warmer set, ideal for beginner massage therapists. 
  • Massage table sheets: As hygiene is essential, you should chance the cover of your massage bed after every client. Here are some paper table sheets you can use. 
  • Massage gun: For some clients, especially people who work at the office to much or for sports people, a massage gun is all you need, as it has more pressure than you could apply with just your hands. You can find a professional TheraGun here
  • Pillow: When your clients are lying on the back, it might be uncomfortable if they don’t have a pillow. Here’s one that will be ideal for them.
  • Towel warmer: If you work in a fixed location like a massage salon or a spa, having a towel warmer is essential. Here is a very affordable warmer cabinet. 
  • Heated mattress: This is a good investment, especially for the cold winter days. As massage techniques can reduce blood pressure, they might feel colder than it is in the room, so a heated bed is all they need. Here is one you can try.

6. Be strict on hygiene


You can take care of the health and safety of your clients and build a successful massage therapy practice with just a few simple tips.

  • Hand washing: Before and after each massage session, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This helps prevent the spread of germs and keeps your clients safe.
  • Clean linens: Use fresh linens for each client and wash them in hot water with a high-quality detergent to kill bacteria and other contaminants.
  • Disinfect surfaces: After each massage session, be sure to disinfect any surfaces that may have come into contact with your client, such as the massage table or chair.
  • Use gloves: In some cases, it may be necessary to wear gloves during your massage sessions. For example, if you have a cut or open wound on your hand, wearing gloves can help prevent the spread of germs.
  • Sterilize tools: If you use any tools during your massage, such as hot stones or massage cups, be sure to sterilize them between uses to prevent the spread of germs.

If you want to read more on how to properly sanitize and disinfect massage therapy tools and equipment, here are the sanitation regulations from the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapy.

7. Set your price list


Calculating costs is an important part of running a successful massage therapy business. In order to ensure a good return on investment (ROI), it’s important to carefully track and manage your costs.  You need to determine your hourly rate and start by calculating your hourly rate based on the amount of time you spend on each massage session. This should include the time you spend preparing for the session, setting up your equipment, and providing the massage.

Keeping track of all your business expenses is also essential when setting your prices, and it will give you an idea of how much you need to charge in order to make a profit.

If you’re a mobile massage therapist, don’t forget to factor in the cost of gas and maintenance for your vehicle. Calculate how much it costs you to drive to each client’s location and add that to your cost per session. Based on your cost per session, set your prices for your massage services. Permanently keep track of your expenses and adjust your prices as needed to maintain a good ROI. If your costs increase, you may need to adjust your prices to ensure you’re still making a profit.

8. Effectively manage your schedule


Since you are at the beginning of your career,  things can be tough and challenging, that’s why apps like Goldie can help you manage your time and income easily. With this app, you can book appointments, send reminders to clients, accept deposits, and take contactless payments with your iPhone, all in one app. By downloading Goldie, you can grow your business with ease, and manage it from everywhere. Join massage therapists around the world who use Goldie in their daily business lifes and watch your business grow. 

Also, you can attract clients by linking your “Book Now” button on social media with your online booking page so that people who find you on Facebook or Instagram can easily book a massage session with you. 

9. Create a unique selling proposition


One way to establish and maintain a successful massage therapy career is to set your business apart from others. It’s not always about providing unusual treatments. It is essential to develop a service menu that reflects your passion. You can still create a mainstream niche with distinctive offerings to differentiate yourself from competitors.

Remember that it may take some time to educate and persuade your clients about the therapeutic benefits of unfamiliar treatments if you decide to offer them. Make your descriptions very specific, so customers know exactly what they will get.

You may separate yourself from your competitors by adding a one-of-a-kind touch, for example, a drink, a warmed rub table, a scented eye cushion, a hot towel, a scrub at the end of the session, or oils made by you. If you make each customer’s experience unique, they will want to use your services repeatedly. Build a relationship by talking to them before and after the treatment. This will allow you to focus each massage technique on a specific part of the body or energy level each time they book another appointment.  

10. Keep evolving


Learning how to become a massage therapist never ends, and you can constantly improve your work. Do courses to improve your skills and knowledge, participate in conferences, spread the word and promote yourself and your services in order to attract more clients.

Focus on your customers; if you are always focused on the job, it can be easy to tune out other things and people. But it’s critical to get feedback from customers as you work. While you may be aware of the areas that require attention, the client can assist you in determining the most efficient method of helping them. This could be as simple as how much pain or relief they get from an appointment. Be attentive and sympathetic. It’s also helpful to end an appointment by verbally summarizing your work and reminding the client of any exercises they should do on their own.

As a conclusion

Learning how to become a massage therapist requires dedication, commitment, and a passion for helping others. It involves a comprehensive educational program, state licensure, and a continuous effort to keep up with the latest techniques. In order to become a licensed massage therapist, you must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills as you work closely with clients to identify their needs and provide a customized experience. You must also have a strong understanding of ethics and professional boundaries

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