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What’s the easiest and quickest way to take a mini-vacation, and feel totally rejuvenated, renewed and rewarded? Do you want a well paying job that can give this feeling to you and your clients? If so I have the perfect job for you. But before I start to tell you about it you have to have an open mind and realize this job does take some work. I’m going to tell you some of the things you might have to do, the reasons its a growing industry, places you can get this job, the wages, the amount of education you need and where to get it, the curriculum of the schools, some of the skills you need, and how to start preparing for this job now. Of course, you want to know the career I’m talking about! It’s massage therapy! I know, I know, your probably thinking so I rub someone’s back big whoop! But there’s more to massage therapy than that.
There are many different things that a massage therapist must do. First off they have to find somewhere to work and get clients, but that’s the obvious. There are also things they have to do after this, other than just massage. In an interview with Stephanie Melroy, who owns and runs The Massage Studio in Holdrege, she said to me, “A lot of high school girls are really interested in massage therapy but most of them don’t realize all the work and education that it requires. The classes that you take aren’t the easiest either. You have to take a lot of anatomy and physiology, know every bone, muscle, and nerve and they work.” You’ll to prepare the client before the massage, which might include: applying heat, alcohol, lubricants, salt, or other rubbing compounds. Of course the massage therapist will massage the client using kneading, rubbing, and/or stroking movements. You also need to know different types of diseases and skin irritations because if they have a certain kind of disease you can’t treat them. But there are also many types of massage or therapy that they might do. This includes Hydrotherapy, Swedish massage, Sports massage, Shiatsu, Trager, Hellerwork, Polarity, Reflexology, Acupressure, Rolfing, and many more. Other than a manual massage they might also use mechanical or electrical machines as well.
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Many reasons exist for someone to need or desire a full body massage. It is considered to be one of the oldest of all treatments used by man for healing and relaxation purposes. The ancient Hindus, Persians, and Egyptians used forms of massage for many ailments, and even Hippocrates wrote many papers that recommended the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. From the information that I gathered, I have come to the conclusion that massage therapy is the most beneficial health aid for everyone. Doctor D. J. Peck, Ph.D. and the Executive Director of Gateway College of Massage Therapy, says, “Physically, massage increases metabolism, improves detoxifying functions of the lymphatic system and relaxes and refreshes the muscles. Massage also assists the digestive process and improves circulation of blood to the body systems.” (Informative paper he wrote called Massage Whole Body Health) Sharon Boilesen, the Advanced Massage Instructor at the Universal Center of Healing Arts in Omaha, says, “Massage therapy is used to relieve stress but is also widely used to help patients obtain relief from many problems including: Migraines, post injury rehabilitation, whiplash, respiratory problems, arthritis, low back pain, leg aches, and tendonitis.” (Universal Center of Healing Arts Brochure) One of the directors from Gateway College of Massage Therapy in South Sioux City, Nebraska said that, “Psychologically, massage relieves stress symptoms and fatigue; it calms the nervous system, and promotes relaxation.” (Brochure from Gateway College of Massage Therapy) Because of these things and many more, massage therapy is in a larger demand than ever before.
Massage Therapy is a rapidly increasing occupation. It was estimated by the Nebraska Board of Examiners in Massage Therapy that the number of licenses being issued increased approximately 92 percent in about two years. They also estimate there to be about 1,622,000 job openings between 1996 and 2006 in this career field.
There are many places that someone with a license in massage therapy can be employed as well, other than running their own business. They could go and work in a massage studio that is already up and running with clientele. Or there are also many other options. Many health spas’ need massage therapists to add to their operation, there are also a few physical therapy clinics and businesses that employ massage therapists as another source of healing. Beauty shops and chiropractors are other places that hire massage therapists as well. During my shadowing experience Mrs. Melroy told me a story about one of her friends who after collage, went to work on a cruise line. She gets to tour around the world and meet all kinds of movie stars and people like that. Plus she gets very large tips, but the thing is that she can’t really have a family because she is gone so much. Hospitals also hire massage therapists to treat some patients who will greatly benefit from the massage, you might be surprised but massage can greatly help people of all ages and with many different conditions. Some groups are babies children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people who are in chronic care.
As the public becomes more aware of the health benefits of massage, the more demand there will be for professional massage therapists. You may be thinking, ‘Yes, but am I the kind of person they’re looking for?’ Well if you are caring, honest, trustworthy, do a good job and have the education and some experience, you’re the just the person anyone would want to hire. Some of the massages especially for the medical field can get fairly expensive, but they are very helpful to the people who receive them.
With some of the massages as expensive as they are and all the clientele that you may have you should be able to guess that is a decent paying job. The Nebraska Board of Examiners in Massage Therapy have estimated that the Nebraska Annual Wage Range for Massage Therapists is anywhere from about $31,200 to about $52,000. This is just an estimate for Nebraskan Massage Therapists. You could make much more or even less. Plus in higher populated areas it’s very possible to make more money because there is a great possibility for more clientele. But, it takes several years for a massage therapist to build clientele especially if they are self-employed. Plus there is probably more massage therapists in these higher populated areas so there might not be any more clientele there than is a smaller community with fewer therapists. Commission costs for those that are employed by others and the expenses that a self-employed therapists has are income factors that could also change the wage range. If you set up your own business, the average that others usually charge is about $40 for an hour long massage or between $20 and $30 for a half hour massage. During my interview with Stephanie she told me a massage therapist needs to get many things before starting their business, some of them are: the practice license which costs about $250 per year, liability insurance which is about $300 a year, the establishment license costing close to $300 each year, plus the equipment like the massage table, massage chair, sheets and towels, and the other products that you use like the massage oil and cleaning supplies. Plus another factor for your wages is the amount of time you work. The number of hours you work depends on many things. If you own your own business it depends on the days you’re open and the hours you’re open, it also depends on if you work weekends or if you allow clients to schedule after normal hours, or if you work by appointment only. But, if you work for someone else it just depends on when they want you there. In these other places of employment, you should probably get at least fifteen dollars per hour. One more income factor would be your level of education.
The required training for a massage therapy license varies from state to state. The state of Nebraska requires 1,000 clock hours, and they also must pass written and practical examinations. Then Eighteen hours of continuing education are required every two years. But Iowa only requires 500 hours of education. A student may earn a Nebraska diploma in twelve months or an Iowa diploma in nine months.
The massage curriculum at Gateway College of Massage Therapy in South Sioux City Nebraska includes courses of anatomy, physiology, wellness, courses in Swedish massage, Deep Tissue Massage, hygiene, pathology, business practices, communications, professional issues, and other natural health modalities. Gateway College of Massage Therapy also offers a continuing course of study in Advanced Massage Technique.
The curriculum outline for the Universal Center of Healing Arts in Omaha is as follows: nurturing the whole person, this term reminds the students to respect the natural process of growth and learning, academics and hands-on experiences, here students enjoy the natural balance between class room work and the real thing, balancing family, work, and school, the state of mind of the student is essential to effectively practice the healing arts and living a balanced lifestyle is essential to passing on the art of health living to others. The classes are set up into three, three month trimesters.
The first trimester focuses on laying the basic foundation of massage theory and practice by having the students take a class on Swedish massage, massage theory and practice, business arts, anatomy and physiology, and wellness.
The second trimester focuses on furthering and deepening the learning begun in the first trimester. Courses taken in the second trimester are specialized massage, business arts, kinesiology, pathology, hydrotherapy, wellness and complementary therapies.
The final trimester is focused on bringing your massage practice into the service of the community. Courses taken during the third trimester include: advanced massage, A&P board prep/Eastern A&P, pathology research, and hydro-clinicals.
Gateway College of Massage Therapy, and Universal Center of Healing Arts, are only two of the places where you could go to get an education in massage therapy. There are also many more schools and collages all over the country and its not surprising that their curriculum and courses are very similar to the two school I have already mentioned and described. At these schools, there are many skills that you will learn. Some of the skills you need to be a massage therapist are, skills in following procedures and doing therapy as it is prescribed to you by doctors, and being able to use your fingers and hands to make smooth, accurate movements. You will also need skills in giving information to others and receiving information as well. Another skill needed in massage therapy is being able to adapt to an uncomfortable work environment. This is very important because if you aren’t comfortable and relaxed, you won’t be able to relax your client. In my opinion, the most important skill that you need to be a successful massage therapist is to enjoy the work you do and to have skills in caring for others and providing a service to them.
There are many things that you can do now to prepare for this exciting career of Massage Therapy. Some of the high school subjects that you can take to help you out before college are: biology, psychology, accounting, business and consumer law, nutrition and foods, health, and physical education. Plus you also need to know a lot of human anatomy and physiology. You need anatomy and physiology because you will have to know every bone, every muscle, and every nerve in the human body. Not only do you need to know them, you also need to know how they work and what the do. In my interview with Stephanie I asked her what she thought someone should do to prepare for a career in massage therapy. She suggested that you should go to different massage studios or other places they give massages and get a different type of massage every where you go just to see what style and form of massage you like the best and some of the different ways that those massages are given. I also think that this would help because then you can see some of the different types of equipment that other people use or what they recommend, and the way that their facility is set up.
Now you know some of the details about a career in massage therapy. Including the things a massage therapist does, (other than give a back rub) some of the types of massage, the many different places that you can get a job and how well it will pay, the education you need and some of the places to get it, some skills you need, and how to start preparing for this career. I really hope that it didn’t scare you to learn that there really is more to massage therapy than rubbing someone’s back!