Any massage therapists in the house?

I’m thinking–again–of going to school to become a massage therapist. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, and I’m not getting any younger so this may be the time to consider it.
I just wondered if there are any massage therapists here who want to share anecdotes, thoughts, ideas…anything, really.
I’m looking at a school that offers a weekend option, so I’d be going on Friday evenings and all day Saturday. I live an hour away from it so that sounds like a good schedule for me.

My wife did (finished about a year ago) and is very happy with it. One thing they were told starting out is to build the practice slowly or run a severe risk of burning out. It’s pretty physically demanding.

It seems that there are often openings in the local spas, etc…I expect maybe a lot of people get started that way.
Is she self-employed? That would be my goal, ultimately. I like to be the boss. :slight_smile:

A former friend/massage therapist told me that getting national certification is better than having [I guess] state certification. National cert. requires more hours of training, iirc, My former massage therapist had her own business; she would do 4-5 massages a day, but no more. It does put a lot of strain on your arms, especially. Also that now and then she’d get a client who hadn’t showered recently. ick

The going rate here $50-$60/hr.

The schools I’m looking at are all geared toward the national certification. I found three within driving distance and will look at those to see how they compare. I think the programs are all in the 500-600 hour range and look like they will run 12-16 months.
I’m nervous and excited…but I think it’s time to make some changes!

I have had a lot of massage therapists work on me and I know it can be very demanding physically as was said earlier.

you owe it to yourself to be careful and to learn as much as possible about using good body mechanics, etc

I had a few massages from a woman who was pregnant and she said she really studied up on working “smarter, not harder” - often she would make ME do the work by doing stretches while she was holding/pushing/whatever - it wasn’t as nice as laying there being “worked ON” but it got the job done.

you should look into that!

that said, I think it’s an excellent profession - very helpful and needed.

I’ve been seeing a massage therapist regularly for about 5 years. Here are my observations.

To be really good at it, you need to learn a good bit of anatomy. She’s explained to me that a lot of the pains are a reaction to someting else that’s wrong in a different location. For example, the pain behind my glutes results from an inflamed sciatic nerve that results from a bulging lumbar disk.

It seems like a good way be start your own business without a large capital investment. Your biggest expense will be rent. You will also spend a bit of money on supplies and laundry.

You will have to invest a good bit of time and money on continuing education to keep your licenses current.

It will depend on your location, but the ‘license police’ can be a ongoing concern. It think it’s the same way for hair stylists. The inspectors come around on a regular basis and their interpretation of the regulations seems to be, shall we say, somewhat arbitrary.

It is very physically demanding. My therapist has expressed concerns about her career as she gets older. She knows some older therapists that are struggling with arthritis and repetitive motion injuries.

It is a very competitive business. In my area, there seems to be a “Massage” sign in nearly every strip center. I would bet that there are at least 25 within a five mile radius of my suburban home. Maybe more. I suspect they have varying levels of legitimacy and professionalism, but they’re all vying for customers.

I know that the majority of masseuse are legit and I frequently get massages when I am on vacation at the resort where we happen to be staying.

But I also know that a lot of men are pigs. How often do massage therapists get propositioned for a something little extra (nudge…nudge)?

I think a lot depends on where they work…I’ve known a couple of therapists who have had men drop hints or ask for “special services” but they were working in sort of…questionable locations. Haven’t heard of any problems for the independent business owners thus far…

I’m going on Wednesday afternoon for a tour of the nearest school!

Could you tell us at least what state you’re in, papergirl?

The typical understanding is that it takes 500 hours of training to be a fully competent massage therapist. This training time is approximately divided into equal parts
[list=a][li] Instructions (observing massage demonstrations by the instructor),[/li][li] Pairing up with another student and practicing what you’ve just been taught,[/li][li] Getting practiced upon by the other student you paired up with,[/li][li] Anatomy / physiology / public health instruction.[/list][/li]
In California, until 2008 or so, there was no statewide regulation of the massage business. Every city or county had its own regulations. 500 hours was a common requirement. But there were regions where you could work with just 100 hours of training. But if you want to work in a medical setting (actual massage therapy, not just relax-and-feel-good spa type massage), then a lot more training was obviously needed.

In 2007 or 2008 or so, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a law creating state-wide regulation. Now, you need 500 hours to practice legally anywhere in the state. In the profession, this is a common standard, so you’ll find similar rules elsewhere too. I think that is the standard for the national certification too.

There is no overt nudity or overt sexuality in “legit” massage. The client is typically fully disrobed but covered with a sheet. Some clients are more comfortable not being fully disrobed. You only uncover part of the body at a time when you work on that part, then cover it back up. The “private parts” stay covered and unmassaged.

There are many masseuses who use that as a front for more “exotic” services, typically “happy endings” (hand jobs) or outright prostitution. OTOH, there are those who feel there should be nothing at all wrong with this, if that’s what all the participants want to do. If you’re working on your own, it’s your choice (but watch out for the morals police!) If you’re working for a spa, the rules are typically very strict.

Because of all that, “legitimate” practitioners are very defensive about the legitimacy of their trade. You will probably be instructed in school how to deal with it. It’s common for male clients to get an erection during a massage. It’s just how male bodies work. You’ll be taught to just ignore it. It’s also apparently common for clients (typically male) to ask for happy endings or other “extras”. You’ll be taught to have zero tolerance for this: When that happens, you will be taught to immediately and politely but firmly terminate the session and demand that the client get dressed and leave.

There are professional massage organizations. Two of the biggies are:

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP), which also operates, and American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).

They publish quarterly trade rags; offer liability insurance to members (high coverage for very inexpensive); and provide materials and advice for practitioners (for example, a statement of massage professional ethics, printed in a certificate form suitable for framing and hanging on your wall).

If you haven’t found and studied these web sites already, you should.

ETA: There are also some good on-line or catalog stores specializing in spa and massage equipment and supplies, like tables, oils and lotions, linens, and other such materials.

BTW, yes, professional massage training definitely includes body mechanics, meaning you’ll be taught specific ways to “work smarter not harder”.

Commonly, 30 hours per week is considered “full-time” in the massage biz.

The boss (a chiropracter) at my massage school (in Sonoma County, Ca.) recommended that newbies in the business should work at a spa for a while before trying to start business on your own. As a beginner on your own, it would take a while to build up a steady clientele, not to mention building up the necessary understandings to run a business on your own.

Cruise ship lines hire masseuses to work on their cruises. According to a spate of articles and letters-to-the-editors in one of the journals a few years ago, you DO NOT want to go there. By most accounts, they work you to death.

If you work at a spa, you don’t get paid so much, but you expect to get tips. Some practitioners I know claim that the spas are crooked and steal your tips.

I took a community college course once with a young woman (mid 20s?) who was a licensed massage therapist. She said she was back in school because she was tired of looking at guys’ dicks.

**Senegoid, **I’m in Indiana. The course requirement here is 500 hours as well, after which you are eligible to take the national and/or state exam. Thank you, I’ll check those websites out!

I visited the school today. It looks like a good place. I had a list of questions to ask (from a massage therapist friend who went through a not-so-great program) and felt they were able to address my concerns adequately. The program runs on alternate weekends: Friday evenings for anatomy/textbook work, and all day Saturday for techniques and practice. I can make monthly payments which will be manageable.

I’m excited! I’m sort of pretending that I’m still thinking it over, but I think in my quiet heart I’m already committed. My people are supportive and that helps. I have a lot to do in the next month–classes start Sept 5–but I can do it. I don’t want to wait for the next rotation…I’d hate to lose my momentum. :slight_smile:

How much does this pay for masseuses who work at a place like Massage Envy? Of that $55-$60 an hour we pay, how much goes home with the therapist?

Looking at some review sites, (Glassdoor and Pissedconsumer) it appears they get a flat $15 per client, plus tip. It sounds like they also need to sell, sell, SELL! memberships and products as well, but get no commission.

It really depends. It depends on the location, the type of practice (chiropractors/doctors tend to pay better than spas, but there are exceptions) and the experience of the therapist. Many places pay per massage, but others pay hourly. Tips are more likely in a spa setting, but hourly - whether you have a client or not - is more common in a doctor’s or chiropractor’s office (often a low hourly rate plus a per-massage bump.) Massage Envy in particular is known as low paying within the profession. They chew up young massage therapists and spit them out.

Some things to ask when interviewing for a position:

If I’m paid hourly, do I get paid when there are no clients but I have to sit around?

If I’m paid per client, is there a fee for no-shows or late notice cancellations? Do I see any of that, or does the spa/office keep that fee?

What other duties are there? Do I do my own laundry? Everyone’s laundry? Am I responsible for prepping and tearing down the room?

Is the room “my” room, or do multiple therapists share the space?

Do I keep my tips, or are tips pooled and split among the staff?

Do you accommodate staffing requests - if “my” client requests me as a therapist, will you work to make that happen, or staff them with whomever has the next opening?

How are walk-ins, first time bookings and no-preference bookings handled? Does the most senior staff member get booked first, or is there a rotation, or is it first availability?

How should I handle inappropriate requests?

What specialty types of massage or related services does your location offer (deep tissue, hot stone, aromatherapy, herbal wraps, etc.) and do you offer training in them?

^There are no “right” answers here, but your personal/professional preferences should match those of the spa/office as closely as possible.

For what it’s worth, I couldn’t find work in a spa as a fat massage therapist. Just something to consider - if you’re not young and pretty, it’s very hard to break into the field. (Once you’ve got some experience, age and body type aren’t as important.) I worked privately for a short time, but it was incredibly hard work, physically speaking. I became a nurse instead. It’s much easier.

My friend has worked in both chiropractor’s offices and spas here in Indiana. She reports that at the chiro’s offices she made $25/hr, as long as her clients showed up. If they failed to show, she didn’t get paid (or maybe she got paid minimum wage, I don’t recall exactly).
At the spas, she made 50% commission, which isn’t bad compared to what I’m seeing upthread and some other places I’ve heard. Around here a spa massage runs $65 and up, so she’d make $30+ an hour after tips.
Now she has her own business and likes it much better.

In addition to these questions I’d find out if the spa participates in promotions like Groupon or Living Social. I see massage services show up on those sites all the time and I have to wonder how much of an impact that has on the massage therapists’ take home $.

I do know the test had a lot of questions about Chakras. Turned me off the whole thing.