Massage therapists use pressure, kneading, and manipulation of the muscles and soft tissues of the body to help ease stress, tension and pain. These are legitimate medical techniques that have been refined over time and are as old as civilization. As a massage therapist, you would use your abilities to help people with sports injuries, to give relief to people with long-term health conditions, and to help clients with relaxation. Therefore, this can be a very rewarding job for those who find satisfaction and fulfillment in helping others to feel better and healthier.
In this career is essential that you will have the ability to listen to clients and empathize with their health or emotional troubles. If you are enthusiastic about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and you want a job working with your hands, this career may be for you. Furthermore, if you enjoy helping people overcome issues such as stress, anxiety and even chronic pain, without the use of medicines and surgeries, this could be a rewarding career path for you.
To work safely as a massage therapist, you will need to take an in-depth course of at least six months full-time or 12 months part-time. This course should be through a state certified and licensed provider in order for you to find a proper job.
Typically, a person moving into a massage therapist job completes the following steps:
- Complete a training program at a massage therapy school that will qualify them to practice in the state they choose.
- Upon graduation, meet the requirements of the state or municipality (such as obtaining a license or other credential, if work is to be performed in an area where massage therapy is regulated). This will most likely require passing an exam, the most common being the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) or an exam administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.
- Become nationally certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. Certification is required in many states and in others provides massage therapists with a credential beyond the entry-level exam required to practice.
- Begin in an entry-level position which will provide further hands-on training, guidance and experience, similar to an apprenticeship.
It should be noted that there is no standardized career path within this field. It is a varied field and offers the benefit of flexibility in terms of hours worked as well as location and type of work. Therapists typically choose to work either full time or par time. Because the work can be very physically demanding therapists need to consider how much time they will need for behind the scenes work, such as consultation, billing and scheduling. A full 8-hour day of massage, while fulfilling, can be physically exhausting.
The job of a massage therapist is very rewarding for the right person. We often hear therapists say that they truly enjoy helping people feel better. They also enjoy the non-traditional aspects and freedoms of this unique job.
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