Massage therapy, or bodywork therapy, is a method of healing from almost 4,000 years ago. The word massage comes from the Greek verb massō, meaning “to handle, touch, to work with the hands, to knead dough”. Massage is the act of manipulating the body soft-tissue and muscles for therapeutic and remedial reasons, mainly involving applied pressure to sore areas of the body. An individual trained to provide massage therapy to clients for medical benefits is called a massage therapist.

There are over 80 different types of massage therapies. The most common methods are: aromatherapy massage, shiatsu, reflexology, Thai massage, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and hot stone massage. A good massage therapist usually specializes in a number of different techniques. It is quite common to see self-employed massage therapists running their own businesses, but a number of them work in different establishments, such as spas, health clubs, healthcare centers, retail centers, resorts, and many others.

Massage Therapist Job description

When a client sees a massage therapist, they usually come because of soreness or pain in their body or for relaxation. A massage therapist’s hands is often the most useful tool used in the treatment; however, some massage therapists may use other equipment, such as ultraviolet and infrared light treatments, water therapy, or steam and dry heat treatments. Before hand massages, therapists usually apply a lubricant to the client’s body. While the patient is lying down, massages are applied to specific body areas through kneading, rubbing, rocking, compression, and stroking the flesh. These techniques relieve the pain caused by injuries, stress, and surgeries by stimulating circulation of blood and relaxing muscles. The job description of a massage therapist includes:


  • Interview clients to determine the required massage method
  • Assess client’s medical history, symptoms, and other relevant information before treatment
  • Prepare the massage oil and other equipment
  • Apply proper pressure to the client to avoid injuries and bruising
  • Consult with other health practitioners to provide the client’s with the best therapy
  • Maintain records of treatments
  • Refer clients to other therapy, if necessary

How to become a Massage Therapist

Requirements for becoming a massage therapist vary from state to state. In most states, any person who wants to become a massage therapist is required to obtain a high school diploma or its equivalents before enrolment. Most schools that offer these programs have full-time and part-time programs. Students are expected to spend a minimum of 500 hours in the program during which they are taught anatomy, kinesiology, physiology, ethics, business, and management. Students are also provided hands-on experience to give students a real feel for the job.

Massage Therapist Licensing/Certification

Most states require a student to have a license or certificate to practice. Students from these states must pass the certification exam before they can work. National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination are the two tests that are accepted nationwide. Some states also have specific certification exams. Massage therapists from states that do not require any certification can start practicing after graduating from an accredited program.

Massage Therapist Salary

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Massage Therapist Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the massage therapist job description:
  • Relieves bodily aches and pains and provide relaxation of the body
  • Minimum 500 hours of training
  • Not all states require license or certificate
  • 23% employment growth by 2022