IBMC Articles

5 Steps to Becoming a Licensed Massage Therapist

How many people can truthfully say they love their career? Well, most massage therapists tend to say they do. The career boasts below-average stress levels and above-average flexibility, according to U.S. News’ “Best Jobs Rankings.” Massage therapists can work from home, in salons, spas, high-end resorts, and even cruise ships.

If you’re considering becoming a massage therapist but you’re not sure where to start, read these five steps to get a better idea of what you’ll need to do.

1. Learn about the career and establish goals

Massage therapy is a great career path, but there are some important choices to make before entering the field. What type of massage would you like to learn? Would you like to work as a solo practitioner, or work for an established spa or massage business? Start considering these options before you enter a program, so you can make sure you’ll learn what you need to achieve your goals.

2. Complete a therapeutic massage program

If you have a high school diploma and an interest in massage, you’re qualified to enter a massage therapy program. Typically, a diploma in massage therapy takes about 15 months, and can be completed at a vocational or career training college. At IBMC College, the Therapeutic Massage diploma program can be completed in as little as 10 months. Your program of study should include courses like anatomy and physiology, therapeutic massage, and clinical massage applications.

3. Obtain licensure

Most states regulate massage, and many others are following suit. In Colorado, licensed massage therapists are required to have 500 hours of training from a board-approved massage therapy school. Your therapeutic massage program must be nationally accredited, and it needs to be approved by the Colorado Division of Private and Occupational Schools. Candidates for licensure are required to pay an application fee to take the licensure exam. When you pass, you’ll be a fully-licensed massage therapist.

4. Get a business license (optional)

While this step is optional, you’ll need business licensure if you plan to work as a solo practitioner, which accounts for 67 percent of all practicing therapists, according to the American Massage Therapy Association. If you’d like to work in a spa, healthcare setting or somewhere else as an employee, you can skip this step.

5. Keep learning and teach others

As in almost any career, the learning never ends. There are so many different techniques and philosophies related to the career that you can add to your professional repertoire, from Swedish massage, to deep tissue, hot stone, Thai, prenatal massage and more. When you become confident and highly-skilled as a massage therapist, you may find that you also enjoy teaching others. Take the opportunity to instruct a massage class, or teach the employees at the business you manage or own.