Massage therapists are trained professionals skilled in helping clients feel the medical and therapeutic benefits of massage. Licensed massage therapists or LMTs usually work out of a salon, spa or sports center. Massage therapists generally specialize in specific types of massage whether that be traditional Swedish, deep tissue, trigger point therapy, or athletic massages. But all LTMs should learn each client’s medical history and physical conditions that they need to pay special attention to. Clients will also have different desired results from the massage —stress or pain relief, relaxation or better athletic performance.
The therapist will knead, push and pull muscles and soft tissue using techniques that work to improve soft tissue and muscle form and function. Massages can strengthen muscles, enhance joint health, and increase general comfort. Each client gets a personalized and customized treatment that will work based on personal goals’, ailments, medical history, and stress/pain related problems.
Looking at the American Massage Therapy Association fact sheet, massage therapy was a $12.1 billion industry in the US in 2015. They also estimated that between July 2015 and July 2016, roughly 19-25% of adult Americans have had a massage at least once —just to give you an idea of growing clientele. The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics project the massage industry to grow at least 22% from 2014 2024, which is much faster than the average. The continued growth in the demand for massage services will in turn lead to new opportunities for massage therapists.
Make it Happen
The most important step to becoming a licensed massage therapist is to get the training and hands-on practice required to be able to sit for your state’s board exam. Since this is a near-medical field and you will be dealing directly with clients’ bodies, it is essential to get the proper education to be able to practice safely. Training programs vary in length and requirements, based mostly on each state’s individual licensing requirements. States usually require anywhere from 500 to 1000 hours of training to sit for your licensing exam, and some also require that LMTs become CPR certified. Get the most out of your massage therapy education with some of these tips!
Although you don’t need any prior work experience to become a massage therapist, through your training you’ll get hands-on experience at a student massage clinic. And since the massage industry is always changing, you’ll continue to learn even after you secure a job, Throughout training and through job experience you’ll learn about new tools and technology specific to your profession such as boards and bolsters, hydrotherapy baths, massage tables and chairs and therapeutic heating and cooling pads. You will also learn about certain types of oils and lotions and scents for an aromatherapy component.
Skills & Attributes
Massage therapists need to have excellent communication skills to effectively consult with clients. Therapists should listen carefully to their needs so you can completely understand what they hope to achieve during their appointment or an ongoing basis. You will also need to gauge their comfort level, likes and dislikes throughout the massage. Effectively explaining everything that you are doing throughout the appointment will keep your client at ease.
Physically, LMTs are generally on their feet for most of the day and will have to accommodate numerous appointments. Being able to maintain a good demeanor throughout the whole day, will make a lasting affect on patients.
Being able to work with your hands and have physical strength, is important in a massage therapist. You will definitely use pressure and movements of your arms and hands to work out clients’ kinks. So being strong and healthy is just part of the job.
This field is well suited for people who are sensitive to others’ needs and feelings, and who genuinely like to help people. Good customer service and listening skills will enhance this so that your clients feel completely taken care of.
LMTs should be able to make good and quick judgement calls during and prior to appointments to ensure customers’ comfort. There may be an existing injury you didn’t know about or a muscle spasm that incurs during the visit that can be tricky to navigate. Being able to think on your feet will prove to be a huge asset in all of your massage appointments.
Tips & Tricks
6 Popular Types of Massage Therapy
Learn more about some of the popular types of massage therapy and its many benefits.
- Swedish Massage: The most popular form of massage that uses long, flowing strokes in the direction of the heart to relax muscles.
- Hot Stone Massage: Involves laying smooth heated stones on shoulders and back to increase circulation and promote relaxation.
- Thai Massage: Considered an energizing massage that involves moving and stretching the client into various yoga-like positions.
- Reflexology: A form of foot massage that uses pressure points in the feet that are believed to be associated with specific organs of the body.
- Deep Tissue Massage: This massage targets muscles that have been strained or endure chronic pain.
- Shiatsu: A Japanese technique that uses fingers and thumbs to apply pressure to different points to relieve stress and pain.