Have you been thinking about a career in massage therapy? If so, then you’ve probably been concerned about a whether this career choice is the right one for you even if you feel you have the right skills to be a massage therapist. What if you don’t find work once you come out of training? Will you be able to find a job that will mirror your passion for massage therapy? Will the wages be reasonable enough to adequately live off of? If you select the right massage school, then you won’t have to worry about the questions just mentioned. Since you will be dedicating a lot of your time and money into your training, you want this experience to be as beneficial as possible.
First, check the phone book to discover local massage schools. Research the school’s website or browse their catalog to get a feel of what the school is like. If the catalog is appealing to you, then schedule a time to discuss your interests in attending the school with the admissions department. Get a good look at the campus on the day of your appointment. Also, you can research other schools that are not local if you desire to relocate by checking out the internet. However, if you desire to practice in your hometown, then you need to make sure the out-of-state school has the required credentials for your local licensing, and make sure your state will recognize the school as an approved institution for licensing.
State accreditation is one of the key components of finding the right school in your area. This means the courses and hours you train should at least meet the minimum state licensing requirements for the massage therapy vocation. Other accreditation methods will allow the school to qualify for financial aid. Some schools will be approved by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), which means the school has attained certain criteria deemed by COMTA as worthy of offering the massage therapy program. COMTA schools undergo evaluation and renewal procedures that can be found on http://www.comta.org/
Also, check to see how old the school is. I’m not saying a newer school might not be as good as an older school, but you should be targeting a school that has an established reputation as being a good school. Find out about graduation rates and the statistics on those graduates actually obtaining jobs within the massage market.
Evaluate the school by looking at class size, teacher experience, and the approve curriculum. If possible, getpermission to observe a class for a few minutes so you can see how the classes run. Also, network with students during break time to see their views of the course (Or, ask former students if you can.). The purpose of doing this is to find the massage school that has a persona that will easily flow with your own. Also, take time to consider the types of massages the school focuses on. Some schools focus on the spa industry, some on Eastern (Asian) techniques, and some focus on medical/clinical therapy. If you want training in a very specific field of therapy—like pediatric or geriatric massages—make sure the school offers a course for that interest. Any massage school worth while will cover anatomy and physiology in its curriculum so you can really be of help to your clients after graduation.
This is just one of my pet peeves, but I love to research the teacher’s credentials. Some people are great massage therapists but horrible teachers. That’s because teaching requires having patience, doing paperwork, and having organizational skills that a lot a therapists lack. Get to know how many teachers you will have because its often better to get exposed to a variety of styles than to just always be exposed to one particular style. You may want to inquire if the school uses adjunct instructors from other institutions, which will also broaden your experience.
Get to know how your school provides training and assessments. Some schools have adopted computer training and testing. Others may do written and hands-on testing procedures, which is a plus since you are learning a hands-on vocation. Either way it goes, you should want to have some sort of hands-on learning regardless of the teaching methods.
The program catalog guidelines will give you information on course offerings, class times, and graduation requirements. People who work may have to see if the program offers part-time or night time class enrollment. If you have to be full time in order to attend the school, make sure you are able to meet that obligation the entire time you are attending.
Make sure you satisfy any prerequisites needed in order to enroll. Not all schools have the same prerequisites for every program their school offers. However, you will most likely have to provide proof of school history (i.e., high-school diploma) before getting accepted for admission.
Make sure your school has a financial aid program if you are looking for financial assistance. Be knowledgeable about student loans by educating yourself on what you are accepting when you sign up for loans. Remember, there will also be a gap between your graduation date and the time you actually start working as a massage therapist; so yo need to be knowledgeable about when you have to start paying the loans back also.
It’s going to take business savvy as well as adequate massage skills to be an efficient massage therapist. That’s why it’s important to also learn business skills while training in school. Therefore, there should be some courses in business (like marketing)in the curriculum. You don’t want to be one of those massage therapists who has good massage skills but refused to market themselves when they became licensed. Now, these people are no longer therapists because they lacked the business skills needed to keep themselves in business. So make sure when you choose a massage school that you get a foundation of business skills.
Research whether the school has a placement team for graduates. Get information on how many years after graduation can an alumni qualify for services, and find out if there are any rates involved in the services. Some schools offer indefinite assistance for their graduates regardless of how long ago it was when they graduated.
Now, complete your findings with a reward. Go have a massage at the student clinic of your chosen school. This will really give you a sense of the school’s personality. It is strange how a lot of students in massage school have never had a massage before. So, how are you going to know the benefits of a massage if you’ve never had one? Get your feet wet and have a great massage so you will know the experience your customers will have when they get a massage from you.
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