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Massage Therapist Salary: What to Expect

Find out how massage therapist salaries stack up.

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Average Annual Salary

Unlike some careers which rely heavily on gratuities, massage therapists can earn a relatively decent base pay with tips as a bonus. The chance to earn more is literally in your hands. Clients often tip based on their massage therapist’s performance and treatment.

According to The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics, the average annual salary for massage therapists is $47,180. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.

Location is particularly important, as the larger the city you live and work in, the higher your salaries and wages are likely to be. Also keep your overhead in mind. If you’re self-employed, factor these expenses into your pay rate:

  • Space rental
  • Massage supplies
  • Advertising/marketing materials
  • Association dues and fees
  • Liability insurance
  • Laundry
  • Billing services or software

What is My Earning Potential?

Massage therapists can take a few avenues toward earning a bigger salary.

Building a large client base can increase your earning potential significantly. Finding and keeping clients, which takes time and effort, can sometimes be a challenge. As you gain more experience or network with people, your chances to attract clients increases and so does your chance to earn more.

In the meantime, you can work toward boosting your pay with gratuity. Providing your clients with the best possible service can often yield hefty tips.

Lastly, specializing in a certain massage modality can help you earn a better salary. With specialized certification, you can often justify charging slightly higher prices for your unique expertise.

How Do Massage Therapist Salaries Compare?

Compare Other Healthcare Salaries

Healthcare Career

  • Physical Therapist Assistants
  • Physical Therapists
  • Athletic Trainers

Average Annual Salary

  • $58,520
  • $90,170
  • $50,540

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, 2019

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

What is the Job Growth for the Field?

Employment of massage therapists is expected to grow by 21% through 2029, much faster than average for all occupations. In states that regulate massage therapy, more opportunities should be available to those who complete formal training programs and pass a professionally recognized exam.

Job Growth for Massage Therapists Through 2029 per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


However, new massage therapists should expect to work only part time in spas, hotels, hospitals, physical therapy centers, and other businesses until they can build their own client base.

Because referrals are an extremely important source of work for massage therapists, networking will increase the number of job opportunities. Joining a professional association also can help build strong contacts and further increase the likelihood of steady work.

How Much Competition Could I Face for a Job?

Competition exists to some degree in every career path. For massage therapists, the level of competition you face will be dependent on several factors.

If you’re planning to run a private practice, consider issues like the number of other massage therapists in your city or town. Will you be one of many or will you be providing a needed service?

As you gain experience and build a network of clients, competition typically becomes less fierce. When you start out in your career, employers will look for the best and brightest, so ensure you’re familiar with the industry you may work in (i.e. travel, sports, geriatric care).

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