Studies & Degrees in Massage Therapy
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Massage Therapy Study Programs
As anyone who has received a skillful professional massage can attest, massage is an extremely effective way of reducing stress and increasing overall health. Massage therapists are compassionate and caring individuals with an acute knowledge of the body and a mastery of practical methods for reducing tension. They may be in private practice, employed by facilities such as airports and train stations, or on the payroll of clinics and healthcare providers. In all cases, massage therapist learn and apply a similar set of skills. They also have the further satisfaction of being personally appreciated for the work that they do.
- Sociability and desire to work with a diverse range of people
- Strong, coordinated hands
- Relaxed, calm demeanor
- Strong desire to help others
The number and variety of massage therapy programs in the United States alone is almost overwhelming. While they may all seem more or less the same, in fact these programs offer very different educational options for aspiring massage therapists. They may emphasize different styles of massage–Swedish, shiatsu, deep tissue, or sports massage, for example–or they may approach massage in different ways. Some programs are based on the Western medical/scientific model, which generally involves a concentration on biology, anatomy, and the science of massage techniques, while others see massage as a more artistic or even spiritual discipline. It is important to choose a school that matches your own style and approach.
You will also want to keep an eye out for markers of quality in a massage therapy program. These include job placement statistics, the level of education and work experience attained by instructors, and the availability of internships and clinic hours for students.
Educated massage therapists can work in a wide variety of settings. Some prefer the flexibility and autonomy of private practice, which allows therapists to set their own schedule and choose their own clients but also requires them to take care of finding space, advertising, and other nuts-and-bolts aspects of the business. Working in a clinic or spa, on the other hand, affords the stability and security of a regular workplace, but of course it allows for less freedom and independence.
While a massage therapist can find work in almost any city in any country, the educational requirements in different locations may vary. In the United States, 37 of the 50 states have licensing requirements for massage therapists, and it is important to base your educational choices on the question of where you hope to work. On the other hand, many massage therapists are employed by hotel chains which set their own standards for employment; those who enjoy traveling and are excited about the possibility of living and working in a foreign country may find this an attractive option.