Things to consider when choosing a massage school

Over the last decade or so a lot of massage therapy schools have been created partly due to an increase interest in massage therapy and the big business of education and student loans. So the good news is you can have a verity of massage therapy schools to choose from if you are willing to look around.

massage, table, woman

The majority of massage therapy schools are designed so the student can get national certified after the completion of the course. The NCBTMB – National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork requires that all applicants complete at least 500 hours of class instruction so most school will be 500 hours or more of classes and they will usually cover a lot of material that will be on the NCBTMB certification test.

Most schools teach Swedish massage as the base of the massage skills. Swedish massage is a very good base because it gives a complete massage, covers the entire body, will hit most trouble areas in most people, it is an easy style to learn and easy to customize. In addition to Swedish massage schools will also each a verity of other massage modalities such as acupressure, shiatsu and reflexology. When choosing a school you should look at these extra modalities and see if they are something you are interested in and if other schools offer different modalities that you might find more appealing. Some modalities you might learn in school could be very valuable and you might use them very often in your practice others you might not find all that great and you may almost never use them, so it is good to look at these and try to decide which one will be of value to you.

Probably the most valuable lessons and experiences you will have at massage therapy school is the hands on massage practice. Most of massage is feel and you have to practice to develop your feel. Usually you will start out trading massages your classmates as part of class and lessons. This gives you the opportunity to practice strokes and massage therapy techniques you are learning about and to apply them to real people. Most schools also encourage students to trade with everyone in the class not just your friends you sit next to and eat lunch with. Trading with the entire class give you the opportunity to try your techniques on different body styles and people who have different likes and dislikes. It will also give you the chance to get a lot of different massages by different people. When you trade massages with your classmates you will be asked to trade feedback afterwards this gives you a chance to see what people liked and what people disliked this is very valuable because in the professional world clients will usually not give very much feed back if they don’t like your massages they will just not come back.

One of the final lessons of most massage schools is clinic. Clinic gives you a chance to practice massage on real people outside your class. A lot of schools will have a clinic on the weekends when they offer discounted student massages. So people will come in to get a discounted massage and the students get people to practice on. Clinic is one of the final steps to graduation so students are expected to give real professional massages. Some schools do not provide a clinic and make student go out and volunteer on their own and find people to practice on.  This is one thing to consider when choosing a school some people really don’t want the hassle of trying to find practice clients and would rather have a school set up clinic.

Along with the different massage therapy modalities you will probably take a series of classes on anatomy, professionalism, ethics, finding a job etc. These classes can be valuable and give you some good pointers and advice on situations you will probably run into in your career as a massage therapist.

A review of a few things that can set school apart and give you something to choose from.

-The length most will be at least 500 hours but some can be as long as 1100 which can take a full year or more to complete you will usually pay more money for more class hours.

-Different modalities taught on top of your base massage classes. What other modalities are included and are you interested in these and do you think you will use them.

-Does the school provide a clinic or do you have to find your own clients to practice on.

– And don’t forget to ask around, good schools will have happy former students bad schools will have unhappy students. With the big business of massage therapy schools one of the big complaints is that some of the larger corporate schools are just a massage therapist factory set up to take money and spit out massage therapists. It is better to spend a little time researching a place then to get stuck somewhere you are unhappy for months.