Pros & Cons of a Massage Therapy Career

If you’re considering a full or part-time career in massage therapy. it’s probably best we give you a real clear look at what that means. The following is an analysis from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics about what a career in massage therapy entails, what you can expect to make and what the outlook is from a career perspective

Massage therapists work with clients seeking rehab from muscle pain or relaxation from stress. Some therapists are self-employed, while others work at massage clinics or spas. By manipulating muscle tissue in the back, arms, legs, and neck, massage therapists help loosen tense muscles. You typically need to complete around 500 hours of training and obtain a state license to practice. According to the current Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for massage therapists nationwide is $39,860 per year. Salaries and fees in large metro areas is typically much higher. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.


Massage therapy has become increasingly common in physical rehab programs. Many stressed professionals have also turned to massage as part of an ongoing wellness and relaxation program. The bureau indicated employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 26 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Continued growth in the demand for massage services will lead to new openings for massage therapists.  When in private practice, you can work out of an office or go to clients’ homes. More malls and shopping centers are adding spas and therapy centers. Companies also promote massages as part of health and wellness programs.

Client Relationships

Massage therapists are considered health care professionals. The work they do improves the quality of life for clients. Over time, good therapists are able to develop a rapport with key clients. During the course of a 30- to 60-minute session, the familiarity allows for friendly conversation and interaction.

Physical Demands

The physical demands of massage therapy are distinct from those in other manual labor positions. Therapists spend sessions on their feet, which taxes the lower body. More importantly, the therapy consists of constant hand flexing, stretching and gripping throughout the day. Stamina and steadiness in hand muscles are critical to long-term success in this career. Therapists sometimes need to take break from their work to preserve hand strength.

Public Misconceptions

State training and degree programs and licensing requirements have increased since the 1990s, giving aspiring therapists a chance to confirm their qualifications officially. Increases in education and training standards have given massage therapists more credibility with doctors, and more physicians are accepting of the role massage therapy plays in pain rehabilitation and recovery.