Approximately 159,800 massage therapists are employed in the United States. About 33 percent are self-employed. After graduating from an accredited school of massage therapy, there are a number of possibilities for employment. Doctors' offices, hospitals, hotels, clinics, health clubs, resorts, country clubs, cruise ships, community service organizations, and nursing homes, for example, all employ massage therapists. Some chiropractors have a massage therapist on staff to whom they can refer patients. A number of massage therapists run their own businesses. Most opportunities for work will be in larger, urban areas with population growth, although massage therapy is slowly spreading to more rural areas as well.
There are a number of resources you can use to locate a job. The AMTA provides job listings and career advice at its Web site, https://www.amtamassage.org. Massage therapy schools have career services offices. Employment Web sites and newspapers often list jobs. Some graduates are able to enter the field as self-employed massage therapists, scheduling their own appointments and managing their own offices. Most get their start by working part time and building their client base.
Networking is a valuable tool in maintaining a successful massage therapy enterprise. Many massage therapists get clients through referrals, and often rely on word of mouth to build a solid customer base. Beginning massage therapists might wish to consult businesses about arranging onsite massage sessions for their employees.
Health fairs are also good places to distribute information about massage therapy practices and learn about other services in the industry. Often, organizers of large sporting events will employ massage therapists to give massages to athletes at the finish line. These events may include marathons and runs or bike rides held to raise money for charitable organizations.
For self-employed massage therapists, advancement is measured by reputation, the ability to attract clients, and the fees charged for services. Health clubs, country clubs, and other institutions have supervisory positions for massage therapists. In a community service organization, massage therapists may be promoted to the position of health service director. Licensed massage therapists often become instructors or advisers at schools for massage therapy. They may also make themselves available to advise individuals or companies on the short- and long-term benefits of massage therapy, and how massage therapy can be introduced into professional work environments.
Tips for Entry
Read Massage Therapy Journal and the Student Experience Newsletter (both available at http://www.amtamassage.org/articles/3/mtj/index.html) and Massage & Bodywork (https://www.abmp.com/massage-and-bodywork-magazine) to learn more about the field.
Visit https://www.amtamassage.org/jobbank for job listings.
Talk to massage therapists about their careers. Ask them for some tips on breaking into the field. Visit https://www.amtamassage.org/findamassage/index.html to find massage therapists in your area.
Participate in the American Massage Therapy Association's Mentoring Program to develop your professional skills and make networking contacts.
Visit the Career Guidance section of the AMTA's Web site, https://www.amtamassage.org/career_guidance, to take a career path quiz and access information on the job search and building one's practice.