Healing Others: Massage Therapy Careers

Massage therapists work in a variety of environments. Find out what you can expect on the job.

male masseuse giving client a chair massage
massage therapist giving chair massage

Perhaps it’s a sign of the stressed-out world we live in, the shift toward natural healing or both, but massage therapists are just about everywhere these days. With a focus on general well-being and natural healing, massage therapy sessions are often a source of relaxation or pain relief for many.

Massage therapists are versatile because they’re often trained in several massage modalities as well as reflexology techniques, Shiatsu and bodywork. Their unique expertise makes them an integral part of the health care field.

Massage therapists need to be physically strong, excellent listeners and extremely compassionate because they may work on clients coping with delicate issues, such as depression.

What does a massage therapist do?

Massage therapists meet all kinds of people throughout their career. The job involves listening carefully to each client and understanding their needs and desired results.

In a medical setting, massage therapists may provide supplemental treatment to patients, requiring you to collaborate with other practitioners like chiropractors or psychologists. They can be found in all types of industries, including hotels and resorts, hospitals, fitness facilities and nursing homes.

On the job, massage therapists:

  • Perform various styles of massage
  • Assess client needs and treatment options
  • Use arms, fingers and physical strength to apply pressure and knead muscles
  • Maintain medical histories and clients’ treatment plans
  • Work with other health care professionals to create treatment plans for clients
  • Advise clients and patients on relaxation and rehabilitative techniques

What career paths can I take as a massage therapist?

Massage therapists have their pick from all different types of work settings and career paths. While approximately 60 percent of massage therapists run their own shop, you may find work in the following places:

  • Spas
  • Hotels, cruise ships and other travel accommodations
  • Chiropractor offices
  • Gyms and fitness and recreational facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Shopping malls
  • Studios
  • Self-employment

Or, you could choose to go to your clients and travel to homes and offices. The type of massage you perform or specialize in will also dictate your career trajectory. For example, if you’re trained specifically in sports injuries, jobs at a gym or athletic center will fit your background.

Most massage therapists are well-versed in several modalities (i.e. sports or deep tissue massage) casting a larger net for job opportunities.

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