Massage Therapist

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Massage Therapist


Believe it or not, there is more to being a massage therapist than strong arms and a health spa work environment. Massage therapists are trained health workers who use a number of techniques to promote the well-being of their clients. They work with everyone from colicky babies to injured athletes and overworked business moguls. The work of massage therapists is similar to that of a chiropractor or a physical therapist. The differences arise from the fact that while a chiropractor concentrates on manipulating bones and a physical therapist uses technology and exercises for treatment, where a massage therapist focuses on manipulating muscles and soft tissues.

Massage therapists usually have patients referred to them by doctors. They conduct client assessments to determine the treatment required. By using such techniques as vibrating devices, hot compresses, as well as their palms, they help alleviate pain, stress, and injury from affected muscles. Because of the physical nature of the work it is important to be physically fit and healthy. Of course, a massage therapist must also have strong arms.

Massage therapists also consult with other health care professionals to develop treatment plans for clients. Because they work so closely with doctors, they must be interested in anatomy and health care in general. They are usually well versed in health care practices, and can communicate with other professionals in related fields, as well as all sorts of clients.

Often, a massage therapist will choose to work independently, meaning they must also take on the responsibilities of running a business, which includes looking after finances, finding clients, overseeing other staff, as well as the daily challenge of those invigorating massages!

Everyone gets stressed, and high levels of stress can be damaging for the body. Luckily, long ago the Japanese developed Shiatsu massage, a tradition which has been used within families and by Japanese health practitioners for centuries. Now, people all over the world can benefit from this therapy which concentrates on the whole being: mind, body and soul. Shiatsu therapists work with individual clients, applying comfortable pressure to all parts of the body with their hands, thumbs, feet, elbows, knees, even with gentle hugs. Rotations and stretching may also be used.

Shiatsu therapy can help in a wide range of conditions from specific injuries and ailments like back pain, severe headaches, whiplash injuries and neck stiffness, digestive problems, asthma, sports injuries, and even depression, or it can be used in dealing with more general symptoms of poor health, such as fatigue.

Shiatsu therapists must learn that along with the practical health benefits, there is an important underlying philosophy to this type of massage. Simply put, vital energy (known as Ki in Japanese) flows throughout the body. For many different reasons, Ki can stop flowing freely. This causes the body to react negatively, and that is where the calming massage of Shiatsu comes in, helping to restore that flow.
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Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences
Offers programs in Massage Therapy, Allied Health and Nursing
Programs Offered:
  • Massage Therapy



  Interests and Skills  
Massage therapists need to be interested in the health and well-being of others. An interest in anatomy and physiology is important. They must be tolerant and sensitive to the needs of others. Good coordination and manual dexterity are essential, as well as physical stamina.

A massage therapist should be good with science, organized, and motivated. A good massage therapist will know how to inspire and motivate the clients, and be comfortable working independently or within a team.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Stay physically fit
  • Work closely with strangers, often touching and massaging exposed skin
  • Consult regularly with physiotherapists, chiropractors and physicians for advice on patients
  • Development treatment plan specific to each patient
  • Maintain records of treatments given
  • Recruit patients
  • Supervise assistants
  • Maintain a calming manner, often for hours at a time
  • Massage therapy can be a demanding career to choose, but most definitely a rewarding one. Clients become quite vulnerable, both physically and emotionally, on a massage table, and the therapist must be respectful of this. The job requires working with lots of different kinds of clients, as well as interacting with other professionals. It is a good career if one is strong, emotionally stable, and has a genuine interest in health care.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Massage therapists can be employed in a number of places: hospitals, clinics, extended care facilities, rehabilitation centers, health food stores, spas, educational institutions and in private practices of the professionals they assist. Massage therapists may also work on call, traveling to clients' homes.
  • The work for massage therapists can be physically demanding. This is because they are on their feet all day long, and massaging requires a lot of arm and hand strength. Some massage therapists may work a regular schedule, however, others may need to work evenings and weekends to accommodate the needs of patients. Some work only part-time.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Once someone takes the training program offered and obtains whatever license is required, there are many options for career advancement. One could start working as one of many massage assistants, gradually gaining more experience at higher levels. Within a few years, a massage therapist could move on to a respected spa, a physiotherapy clinic, or possibly even start a massage therapy business independently or with a few colleagues.

  Educational Paths  
Massage therapists require completion of an 18- to 24-month program in massage therapy from an accredited school and supervised practical training. Depending on the area, you may need to register with a Massage Therapist Board of Directors, and/or pass a licensing exam before being allowed to practice.

In order to become a practicing Shiatsu therapist, it is neccessary to become a CST--a Certified Shiatsu Therapist. CST applicants are required to write an examination--the best way to pass the test is to complete a 2,200-hour program at an accredited private vocational school. If a school is not an option they can try to gain the required knowledge by looking for equivalent training elsewhere before testing for the certificate.

Once certified, Shiatsu therapistis receive full benefits as a member of the association, guaranteeing them liability insurance, referrals, and registry listings.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

Featured Schools

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Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences
Offers programs in Massage Therapy, Allied Health and Nursing
Programs Offered:
  • Massage Therapy

Fortis Institute
Fortis Massage Therapy Program
Programs Offered:
  • Massage Therapy
  • Massage Therapist

Milan Institute
Prepare for an exciting new career at the Milan Institute.
Programs Offered:
  • Massage Therapy

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