In this Article
Median Annual Salary
The median salary for massage therapists is $46,910 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)—but median salary doesn’t tell the whole story of this career, which is anything but your typical 9-to-5 job. There are many factors that play a role in your salary as a massage therapist, including what city and state you work in, the environment you work in, and what specialties you might choose.
Median Salary: $46,910
Projected job growth: 20%
10th Percentile: $24,450
25th Percentile: $34,770
75th Percentile: $60,510
90th Percentile: $77,600
Projected job growth: 20%
|State||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|District of Columbia||$47,230||$31,340||$61,250|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries may vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.
Highest Paying Cities for Massage Therapists
The BLS lists a number of U.S. cities with median salaries that tend to skew higher than the national average. A massage therapist’s full-time pay, however, can vary greatly no matter where you work, says Lisa McNeil, M.Ed, LMT, CFSS-M, a structural integrationist at Brookfield, Wisconsin’s, Momentum Movement Clinic. It is usually less than the median listed.
The American Massage Therapy Association cites an average workweek of 26.6 hours—that’s partly because other parts of the job, like the day-to-day administrative tasks of running a business (if you’re a sole practitioner), along with the marketing work associated with engaging new clients, are tasks that are often uncompensated. According to the BLS, 38% of massage therapists are self-employed.
Factors that Impact Salary
Median salary can vary widely due to geography, your experience level, your certification, and the type of massage specialty you may offer, as well as your workplace—massage therapists can practice anywhere from spas to hospitals.
- Cost of living is a big factor in how far your salary will go. In general, living in cities will come with a higher cost of living—but with that often comes more job opportunities and options.
- More years of experience can bring slightly higher pay, but other factors include the massage specialties you may offer, continuing education classes you may have taken, or specialty certificates you may hold.
- Licensing and Certification:
- Most states require a license to practice massage therapy, which you get by taking the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination. While it’s not mandated by states, board certification through organizations like the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) can also be helpful to make you more competitive for jobs, particularly early on in your career. It can be something employers look for—and it indicates your commitment to the trade. Employers may offer a higher salary to those who have pursued board certification.
- Massage therapists can find jobs in many different workplaces, from hospitals and medical clinics to spas and health clubs. Each has a very different atmosphere. The top median salary, according to BLS, are for therapists who work in chiropractic offices: $55,300. Working in other health practitioner offices offers the next highest median salary: $47,870.
- Different specialties provide opportunities to work in a variety of settings that put to use your particular skills and preferences. According to McNeil, orthopedic massage, which focuses on injury rehabilitation, is a fast-rising specialty. There’s also demand for therapists who have post-concussion and neurological training for elite athletes.
What’s the Demand for Massage Therapists?
Massage therapy is a fast-growing field, projected to grow 20% through 2031, according to the BLS, which is much faster than average across all other occupations. The cities with the highest levels of employment of massage therapists are:
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||5,310|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||3,610|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||2,990|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL||2,320|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||2,220|
How Do Massage Therapist Salaries Compare?
While the median salary for massage therapists is lower than those of other rehabilitative professions, it can vary, especially if you own your own practice.
|Career||Median Annual Salary|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||$61,180|
With professional insight from:
Lisa McNeil, M.Ed, LMT, CFSS-M, Structural Integrationist
Momentum Movement Clinic