Online massage therapy degree programs can be a great fit for learners who may need to juggle family responsibilities with education coursework. They can also be a solid option for those who are preparing for employment in a new career while still employed in an existing job.
Those who love to help people and have a passion for healthy living may find meaningful and gainful employment with massage therapy courses. An added benefit that attracts people to this profession is the flexibility and independence it can offers in terms of location, as well as choice in part-time or full-time work.
Growing at a pace of 26 percent, higher than the national average of 7.4 percent for any other occupation, the job outlook for massage therapists is likely to experience strong growth right through to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The following steps outline how you can become a massage therapist.
Education requirements for massage therapists vary according to state and locality, the BLS reports. Most states require aspiring massage therapists to complete some sort of postsecondary education that includes at least 500 hours of education. While a certificate program in massage therapy might help you get started, many employers may prefer hiring individuals with either an associate or a bachelor's degree. The table below outlines recent national wage and employment data for massage therapists from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Projected Job Growth
To get the most out of your program, look for online massage therapy schools that promote a high-level of communication with professors and fellow classmates through mediums like video chat, message boards, and email. This helps build a collaborative environment that encourages and supports online learning.
Here are some of the benefits of earning a massage therapy degree online:
Prior to enrolling in any online massage therapy degree program, students should make sure that it meets the licensing requirements of their local area and state.
Online massage therapy programs range from those at the professional certificate and diploma levels to bachelor's degree programs. Massage therapists have a variety of options to enhance their career growth through specialized certifications.
Higher levels of education will not only give you a deeper understanding of the field, but can provide you with a more competitive edge to apply for higher-paying positions. Employers typically prefer to hire massage therapists who have an associate or bachelor’s degree. Specializations can be attained by earning certifications.
Choosing a degree level will depend on how much time you want to spend studying. Remember that any of these massage therapy degrees can be taken fully online and therefore allow you to earn your degree without having to leave your job or give up other obligations you may have.
A diploma in massage therapy might help you prepare for passing the state massage therapy certification examination.
Typical duration: Less than a year
Typical coursework: Courses in an online certificate program may include
After passing the exam and securing licensure, a massage therapist can be self-employed, or work in franchises, spas, cruise ships, physicians' clinics, nursing homes or other settings.
The typical entry-level education required for enrolling in a massage therapy program is a high school diploma or equivalent. Having a postsecondary credential like a degree or prior postsecondary education on subjects like anatomy, physiology, humanities, and business may be useful and possibly could translate into transferrable credits at some colleges
Associate degree in massage therapy can be completed entirely online or in hybrid formats. These degrees are usually classified as an Associate of Applied Science (AAS).
Typical duration: Two years of full-time study
After completing an associate degree, students may be able pursue an independent practice as a massage therapist or work in healthcare centers, sports facilities, spas and fitness centers.
Online bachelor’s program may be found as a Bachelor of Science with a focus in massage therapy, occupational therapy, manual or integrative therapeutics. Hybrid formats are popular at this level with a few colleges offering fully online programs.
Typical duration: four years of full-time study
Because students can pursue specializations, they may be able to create a niche market for themselves after earning a bachelor's degree in massage therapy.
Certifications in core subjects will allow you to meet the requirement of your state or municipality.
As a massage therapist, in order to maintain your license you may be required to continue to enhance your education by taking online courses in an array of specialized subjects in massage therapy like sports, cardiovascular health, cancer, carpel tunnel syndrome, fascial therapy, migraines, pediatric oncology massage, lower back pain, skin conditions, active seniors, diabetes, post-operative pain, sciatica, stress, painful necks, and more!
Even if recertification isn’t your goal, it can still be a good idea to take courses in specialized subjects in order to potentially enhance your career focus.
Here are just a few certifications you can earn along with their certifying bodies:
Diplomate in Asian Bodywork Therapy
National CertificationCommission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Board Certification in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork
National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork
National Reflexology Certification - Hand Exam
American Reflexology Certification Board
Massage Therapy Certification
American Health Source
Zero Balancing Certification
Zero Balancing Association
National Reflexology Certification - Foot Exam
American Reflexology Certification Board
Before enrolling in an online degree program in massage therapy make sure the program is accredited the United States Department of Education (USDE). Other accrediting bodies include:
In order to become a massage therapist, the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics reports that students typically must complete a postsecondary program consisting of at least 500 hours of training, although some states or localities may call for more than 1,000 hours of training to meet licensing requirements.
Passage of a state examination or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) from the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards is also typically required. Completing a massage therapy degree program usually fulfills study requirements for the local area and can provide students with the knowledge needed to pass local and state licensure exams.