The majority of massage therapists today went to a massage therapy school. Typically, part of the recruitment process of the school is to tell students how great the massage job market is and how much money can be made. Many massage therapist become very disappointed when they graduate and realize that the job market for massage therapy jobs is not really as golden as their school advertised.
Massage therapy can be a very rewarding career but there seems to be a lot of mis-information around put out by the massage therapy school industry to attract new students. I would encourage almost anyone to go to massage school because it is a great experience. However, I would also encourage people to do some research into the realities of the massage therapy industry and the job market before they spend thousands of dollars on the hopes that the marketing department at the average massage therapy school hypes up.
Let’s take a look at a couple of common claims that massage schools make about jobs and compare them to reality.
One common claim is that massage therapists make $60-$80 an hour. Wow, that sounds great and you only have to go to school 6-12 months? Well, in reality, in most places a $60-$80 massage is usually at a spa where overhead is high. By the time the massage therapist gets paid they are probably going to see around 25% of the price the client paid for the massage.
Some independent massage therapy contractors will make $60-$80 an hour if they have good clients. It usually takes years to build a good client base like that and running your own business comes with extra administrative work. You will have to account for taxes, insurance, and other expenses relating to the overhead of running a massage business. Scheduling clients and managing your time can also be a difficult task when 3 or 4 clients all want to kick off their weekend with a Friday massage at 4:00pm, but no one wants to spend Monday or Tuesday morning getting a massage. Most massage therapist will have to account for empty slots in the average workweek and clients becoming discouraged when they cannot schedule the more desirable slots. Yes, it is possible to make $60-$80 an hour, but not very likely.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics –
“Median hourly wages of massage therapists, including gratuities, were $16.78 in May 2008.”
Another common claim is that the schools have access to databases full of massage therapy jobs and connections with large massage therapy job markets.
The truth is that most of their job databases are taken from classifieds all over the country and never deleted after the position was filled. If you look at the job listings they are months old and sometimes years old so the database usually only serve the purpose of a marketing tactic to play on potential students who wonder where the massage therapy jobs are because they don’t see any.
The school with “connections with large massage therapy job markets” usually means they have employees at the school call around to resorts and ask about jobs telling them that they will send students their way. Usually these resorts and cruise ship type places do have a huge turn over of workers and frequently have openings. So they do usually have some job leads but basically they are just an address to send a resume to, not really anything you couldn’t find on your own
A massage education can be very valuable and rewarding, but the massage therapy school industry is a business and they do spin the facts to match the truth they want to portray about the massage job market. There are good massage therapy jobs out there, but anyone considering investing time and money into a massage therapy career should do their own research and see how the job market is in their own area or an area they are interested in living. A massage therapy education is a large investment of time and money so you should treat it like any large . . . investment don’t just take the salesman’s word for it; do your research.
Spend a week or two looking around at massage therapy jobs and you will see the reality of it. Look in classifieds and ask other massage therapists. Jobs also vary. There can be great spas hiring in some area while other areas may only have low-end franchise chains.
Don’t buy into the secret job databases or promised jobs because the school’s job is to sell an education. They tell people whatever version makes sales, which is not always the whole truth.
There are other jobs you can pursue with a massage degree and you can always go to work in the massage therapy school industry. Many massage therapists migrate to other similar professions such as physical therapists, athletic trainers, health trainers, etc. In massage school, you learn some very valuable skills about anatomy, health and helping people become and staying healthy.
Don’t let a tough job market turn you away from a massage therapy education if you are passionate about helping people through the wonderful benefits of massage, but don’t count on easy jobs and easy money. Count on a journey of healing, self-improvement and self-discovery.