How to Choose a Massage School

Finding the Best Massage Schools can seem like an overwhelming process.  It is hard to tell which massage school will give you the best training for your money.

If you are considering going to massage school be sure you read the section on becoming a massage therapist to see if that is what you really want to do.

Massage schools are in the business of filling their schools with students.  The goal is to find a good school that is able to combine being a business with filling their schools with people who are serious about becoming a massage therapist.  Many schools will accept just about anyone who wants to go to school – convicted felons, people who are taking massage just to get out of taking math classes,  people who don’t like to touch people are often filling the seats.

Massage Therapy Schools don’t really teach you how to be a successful massage therapist. Massage schools teach you how to massage safely and effectively. Being successful as a massage therapist is a whole other story.  It involves learning to set up and run your own massage business or negotiating higher paying jobs which are harder to find in the massage profession.

Many massage schools have actually changed their programs to focus on getting you an entry level job at a massage franchise which is actually much easier than being a clinical massage therapist.   There have been so many franchises opening in the last 10-12 years, that the schools have actually had to ‘dumb down’ their programs in order to do that.

Your search for a massage school should include finding a school that teaches clinical (medical) massage as well as spa massage and that equips you with more skills and knowledge to get better jobs.

In choosing a massage therapy school be sure to ask these questions:

  • What licensing is required where ever you live?
  • How many teachers at your school have or have had a full time massage practice?
  • How many of your graduates have found jobs or started their own business?
  • How many of your graduates are still working after one year?  after 2 years?  after 5 years?
  • How much can I make as a massage therapist in an entry level job?
  • How much can I make as a massage therapist in after a few years of working in an entry level job?
  • How much can I make if I open my massage business right after massage school?
  • What does it take to open a massage business?
  • How many hours of training does your school have?
  • Does it include the minimum recommendation of 625 hours of training as outlined in the Entry Level Analysis Project?  Every school should be working to adapt the ELAP Blueprint as a foundation of their training.   It is not so much the number of hours of training but the quality of those hours!

To find a good massage school I recommend looking in your area and go visit all of the schools.  If you are planning on moving out of state or thinking about moving later, the requirements are different in each state so you will need to know what is required there.  (There is no such thing as National Certification and there is no portability between states for professional licensing.)  Most schools can provide you an adequate amount of information to start your business or find a job.  It is more about what you make of the school experience.  It is also good to go to a few massage therapist in your area and ask them where they got their training and ask if they would recommend that school.

The thing is that it can be a different way.  You can make a great living as a massage therapist and also be very happy doing so.  It can be a rewarding career in all ways when you learn what it is really about.  It is more about learning to take care of yourself – not others.

Different Types of Massage Schools

There are many different types of massage schools that you will need to know about in order to make a more informed decision about your career in massage.

Proprietary Massage Schools are schools that are usually owned by an individual who is often a massage therapist or a very interested party.  They are usually smaller in nature and cater to smaller class sizes and pay more attention to various learning styles.  They usually have a higher number of teachers to students ratio to give students more attention.

Career Training Institutes are schools that also offer other vocational training such as medical and dental assisting or other health care programs.   They are usually accredited by U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agencies, and are either privately held or publicly traded companies.  They usually have a higher number of students enrolled at any one time and offer lower tuition rates.

College Programs are usually at community colleges or technical colleges and may offer an associates degree in massage therapy.  They are regionally accredited programs.   These schools usually have the lowest rates, the lowest graduation rates and the lowest loan repayment rates according to Martha Menard in her study and article Choose Wisely: The quality of massage education in the US.

Corporate Massage schools are large corporate owned massage schools that are usually chains of massage schools.  Many of them purchased smaller proprietary massage schools in the late 1990’s – early 2000’s to build their network of schools.  They are usually accredited U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agencies.  They usually have a large number of students, have the highest cost, highest loan rates and lowest repayment rates according to Martha Menard in her study and article Choose Wisely: The quality of massage education in the US.

Comparing Massage Schools:  How to choose the best massage school for you.

It is nearly impossible to compare massage schools against each other because schools are all so different.  The cost of massage school may be one of the most appealing factors, but the cheapest massage schools are not always the best massage schools.   Massage school curriculum’s have not been standardized and currently massage education is in a big state of flux.   There are many schools that focus on the relaxation side of massage and many that focus on the massage as healthcare side.

Trying to compare and choose the best massage school will require that you really do your research on schools and work to figure out the best school for you that will help you be most successful in a career in massage therapy.

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