Online Degrees in Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is an ancient healing art that combines massage, bodywork and somatics (body-mind integration) to manage stress, relieve pain, improve circulation, provide emotional relief and release toxins that accumulate in the body. Massage therapists use different motions and movements and varying degrees of pressure during a massage to achieve the desired result.
Most massage therapy is classified into four groups--Oriental, relaxation, rehabilitative and therapeutic--but there are more than 200 variations such as deep tissue, Shiatsu, acupressure, Swedish, reflexology among others. Massage therapists often specialize in a particular type of massage such as sports massage, rehabilitation massage and prenatal massage, or in a specific technique such as Reiki healing, Thai massage or myofascial release.
Those who are interested in massage therapy careers need to be physically fit as massage therapy is demanding on the body and can require long periods of standing. Therapists often suffer from repetitive motion injuries, particularly in their hands. Massage therapists also need excellent people skills. It's important to be able to immediately connect with clients in order to put them at ease in the initial massage session and to keep the client as a regular customer.
Each state sets its own requirements for licensing and certification as well as the length of the massage therapy educational program required to practice. Diploma programs can require anywhere from 300 to 1,000 hours, and can last from a few weeks to a few months. Associate degrees take approximately two years to complete. Coursework generally includes anatomy, physiology, psychology, body movement, ethics and business management. Only seven states do not regulate massage therapists.
To be licensed, a massage therapist must pass a state exam or one of two national exams--the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB). Aspiring massage therapists should check specific requirements in their state before starting an educational program. Massage therapy diploma and degree programs are available on campus and online. Online massage therapy degrees also require an on-site component of hands-on training with a qualified instructor.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that employment of massage therapists will increase by 19 percent between 2008 and 2018, from 122,400 practitioners to 145,600. Massage therapists work in a variety of settings, including spas, sports and fitness centers, studios, shopping malls and airports. More than three-quarters work in the personal care industry or the offices of other health practitioners. Job opportunities are best for certified massage therapists (CMTs) and those who complete training, are certified in different types of massage and pursue continuing education to keep current with the latest industry techniques.
The BLS reports that the 2010 mean annual salary for massage therapists was $39,770. Nevada, Hawaii and Washington employed the greatest concentration of massage therapist (per 1,000 workers) and Alaska, Delaware and Washington paid the highest wages in 2010, according to the BLS.
- 40 percent of Americans get massages to relieve stress, reports a 2010 American Massage Therapy Association survey
- The Napa area in northern California has the highest concentration of massage therapists in the U.S. due to the large number of hot spring spas in the area
- By 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates there will be 145,600 massage therapists employed nationwide
Online Degree Programs in Massage Therapy
Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education.
Study online with California University of Pennsylvania.