Getting Into the Massage Therapy Business

The world can be a stressful place. Most of us feel like we’re living at the speed of light, running here, there, and everywhere. And to top it off, because of life’s pace, a lot of us have chronic pain. Tight shoulders, aching necks, tired lower backs. And we seem to get sick more than we used to.

As a Massage Therapist, you can help others overcome chronic pain, recover from injuries and illness, reduce stress, and just plain help them feel better.

Now is an exciting time in the field of massage therapy, which is expanding like never before. The public’s use of massage as a healthcare modality has tripled in the last decade, which in turn has caused a tremendous increase in the demand for therapists.

Massage therapists can be seen working almost everywhere, and spas, health clubs, cruise ships, physician’s offices, even the local mall, are just a sampling of the places where a therapist can work.

The demand for massage therapy is ever increasing as more and more people see the importance of living a stress-free life and turn to massage therapy for relief.

If you are a skilled massage therapist you can cash in on the popularity and demand for massage therapy, and open a home based massage therapy business.

How to Get into the Massage Therapy Business

Before you start your home based massage therapy business you must have a certificate as a massage therapist from a recognized school or institution.

The different massage therapies that you should consider offering in your massage therapy business are: Swedish massage, Thai massage, aromatherapy massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, and hydrotherapy massage. All these massage therapies, except for the hydrotherapy massage, need special training.

You will need to set up a location where you can do your massage therapy sessions. It is crucial that you set up an environment where your customers can feel relaxed and comfortable.

Skills Needed

Depending on the type of massage therapy you choose, you must have the skills to perform the necessary techniques. You can hone your skills through training and practice. Train in a reputable school or institution and practice, practice, practice. You can always ask your friends and relatives to be your practice partners. Perfecting your massage therapy skills will help your massage therapy business grow.

You need to have good management skills to properly run your massage therapy business. You need to constantly keep logs of equipment, supplies, customers, and profit.

You also need good people skills in order to run a successful home based massage therapy business. If your voice and conversation makes your customers comfortable and relaxed they are likely to come back for more therapy.

Experience Needed

Experience working in a spa, salon, or health center will be beneficial when starting a home based massage therapy business.

Startup Requirements

You need funds for remodeling a room in your home to accommodate your massage clients. You also need a message table, and basic inventory such as massage oils, massage robes, aromatherapy candles, and others.

10 Steps to a Great Career in Massage Therapy

1. Is a Career in Massage Therapy for You?

Before deciding on a career as a massage therapist, you should first ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I like working with people?
  • Do I enjoy caring for and helping others?
  • Can I work quietly, without much conversation, for much of the day?
  • Can I empathize with someone, without taking on their “stuff”?
  • Can I work independently, without much supervision?
  • Do I have strong communication skills?

If your answer was yes to the above questions, a career in massage therapy may well be for you.

2. Discover the World of Massage Therapy

As a massage therapist, you will be trained in the fundamentals. Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, and Trigger Point Therapy are usually taught by most massage therapy programs. However, there are many other forms of bodywork out there, ranging from Myofascial Release to Reiki (a form of energy work.)

Not only are there many different modalities of massage to choose from, there are many areas of specialization as well, including Pregnancy Massage, Medical Massage, and even Animal Massage.

Do some investigating to find out what types of massage might appeal to you as a practitioner. Contact local therapists or schools and ask questions about the different types of massage, or do a search online using the terms “massage therapy”, “bodywork”, or “therapeutic massage” to find out more.

3. Know the Requirements for Practice in Your Area

Before choosing a training program, one of the first things you should investigate are the requirements for becoming a massage therapist in the area you wish to practice in.

Each state and/or city or town has different requirements for massage therapists. If you are unsure where to gain information about practice requirements, contact the school/training program you are considering, or contact a local massage therapist. Either should be able to point you in the right direction.

4. Training for Your Career as a Massage Therapist

There are many different types of schools and training programs available to someone who wants to become a massage therapist. To find a program that suits your needs, check your local yellow pages under “Schools” or “Massage Therapy”. You could also do a search online using the phrase “massage therapy schools” or “massage therapy training”, or contact some local massage therapists to find out what schools/programs they attended.

Once you have found some training programs and/or schools, make sure to check out several. Each school or training program will more than likely have a different curriculum and philosophy, and you will want to choose one that will match your needs and personality. Especially important is that the school or training program meet the educational requirements for practicing in your area.

5. Volunteer Your Services

Once you have begun your training to become a massage therapist a great way to get more “hands on” experience is to volunteer your services to others. You can volunteer to work on friends and family, or offer your services to community organizations in your area. This is also a great way to start building a clientele even before your training is finished.

6. Finding a Job

Once you’ve finished your training, it’s time to start working as a massage therapist! If you’ve decided owning your own business is not for you, you need to find a job. One way to find employment as a massage therapist is to check with the school or training program you attended.

More than likely, they will have a list of employers who need to hire massage therapists. Otherwise, you can check your local paper, check online employment sites, or even create your own job. Numerous types of employers need massage therapists including medical clinics, health clubs, spas, and corporations.

7. Start Your Own Business

If you’ve dreamt of being your own boss, a career in massage therapy can be the perfect way to go. However, keep in mind that being your own boss means just that, you decide on everything from how many hours you work, how many clients you see, and how to set up your office.

But you also have to make decisions on whether to incorporate your business or not, whether to do your own taxes or hire an accountant, and what fees to charge. The Small Business Administration has many resources for new business owners, and the best part is, they’re all free!

8. Get and Keep Clients

If you have already been volunteering your services, chances are you already have some clients. Once you have a few clients, you should be generating some word-of-mouth advertising, which means your clients will be telling others about you.

If you are still in need of more clients, you could establish an alliance with other healthcare professionals in your area. This would entail contacting someone (say, a chiropractor or physician) by mail and enquiring whether they would be interested in establishing an alliance where you would refer clients to one another.

To keep the clients you already have, make sure your practice is client-centered. Your clients are doing you a favor by utilizing your services. Make sure you return that favor by giving the best service you possibly can!

9. Take Care of Yourself

Massage therapy, by its’ very nature, is a caring profession. But in the process of taking care of others, we can often neglect to take care of ourselves. Recognizing the signs of self-neglect can go a long way to prolonging your career as a massage therapist. If you feel like you just can’t listen to one more client’s problems, and you’d rather be on the massage table yourself, you may be on your way to burn-out.

Try these steps to regain some balance in your life:

  • Eat balanced, nutritious meals, at least three per day.
  • Get enough rest. Studies have shown we all need a half hours sleep for each waking hour of our day.
  • Get exercise. Even though massage is a physical profession, you still need to get in about 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
  • To stay flexible, limber and mentally centered try Tai Chi or Yoga.

10. Grow as a Professional

As a massage therapist, your success will also center on your growth as a healthcare practitioner. Taking classes in new techniques, reading books about different types of bodywork, and getting massage from other practitioners can all aid you in your professional, as well as personal, growth.

Massage Therapy is a rewarding and challenging field. Not only do you help others, massage therapy is a career that will enhance your own life over and over. Now that’s a Fab Job!

Which types of massage therapy can you imagine yourself doing?

  • Relaxation/Spa Massage therapy includes stress management and relaxation treatments. This type of massage is often practiced in spas and massage therapy practices, as well as salons, cruise ships, casinos, hotels, and resorts.
  • Sports Massage therapy involves working with athletes to enhance their performance, as well as helping them to recover from injuries. This type of massage is practiced anywhere there are athletes: health clubs, colleges, professional sports franchises, the Olympics, physical therapy offices, sports medicine clinics, doctor’s offices, race tracks, and massage therapy practices.
  • Medical/Clinical Massage therapy involves working with people who suffer from pain and injuries. This type of massage therapy is usually practiced in a doctor’s office, chiropractor’s office, hospitals, physical therapy office, medical clinic, or massage therapy practice.
  • Onsite/Corporate Massage therapy involves going somewhere to perform anything from a 15 minute seated massage to a full table massage. This type of massage therapy is seen in a wide variety of places – the local mall, individual homes, offices of large corporations, conventions and other events. If you enjoy a change of scenery, this could be the massage therapy practice for you.

sources: author: Based on the FabJob Guide to Become a Massage Therapist by Sharon A. Alfonso, LMT, www.homebusinesscenter.com, atouchofbusiness.com, fabjob.com, photo from sheethead.blogdrive.com, .thenaturalwayclinic.com

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