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Massage Therapist

What they do:

Massage therapists apply focused, hands-on techniques to promote relaxation and increase circulation in the body’s soft tissues. Massage therapists work to relive pain, help rehabilitate injuries, improve circulation, relieve stress, increase relaxation, and help in the general wellness of a client.

In recent years, massage therapy has gained more attention in the healthcare community as a highly effective complementary and alternative medical therapy. This is no surprise for some, given that massage therapy is one of the oldest “healing arts” known to man dating back to 2,700 B.C. when it was first recorded as a therapeutic technique in Chinese medicine.


Massage therapists typically complete a postsecondary education program of 500 or more hours of study and experience, although standards and requirements vary by state or other locality. Most states regulate massage therapy and require therapists to be licensed and/or certified.

Most massage therapists in the U.S. are trained in Swedish and deep tissue techniques. Some massage therapists may also specialize in modalities such as acupressure, connective tissue massage, infant massage, prenatal massage, rolfing, shiatsu, sports massage, trigger point therapy and manual lymphatic drainage.

What they make:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual wage for massage therapists was $38,040 in 2015. The best-paid 10% in the profession made more than $74,860, while the lowest-paid 10% made less than $18,860.

Where they work:

Some massage therapists practice independently and maintain their own businesses – working either out of an office or doing in-home massages at a client’s place of residence. Others work for hotels, spas, fitness centers, hospitals, long-term care facilities and private clinics. Certified massage therapists may work closely with other members of healthcare teams, including physicians, physical therapists, rehabilitation counselors, chiropractors and acupuncturists.  

Many massage therapists work part-time in conjunction with another job because the work can be physically demanding.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects massage therapist employment growth of 22% between 2014 and 2024, adding 36,500 more professionals to this field.


For more information on massage therapy, you can contact the AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association).



Updated February 2017