Massage Therapist Aptitude and Education Are Key
Massage therapist as a career can offer remunerative and rewarding employment. To become a successful massage therapist, you need to:
- Possess compassion and caring. In an intensely hands-on care giving role, a massage therapist must above all display empathy, balanced with professionalism. Patients expect the massage to provide relief for physical and emotional tension, yet receive this care in a clinical environment.
- Complete education in massage therapy. You need to learn the many techniques and at least one or more styles of massage therapy to effectively treat patients. The massage therapy school should allow students sufficient hands-in practice, as well as class work. The school should also focus on helping students pass the certification exam.
- Pass certification. To work as a licensed massage therapist, you will need to first complete massage therapy school and then pass the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board. Forty-three states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands all require licensure to practice as a massage therapist. While the laws about bodywork vary by state, only those who pass their state’s exam may claim the title of licensed massage therapist and the “LMT” initials after their names. Certification also assures employers and clients that you have the level of professionalism and expertise required to treat clients.
- Keep learning. To stay licensed, massage therapists must take periodic continuing education credits in most states. It’s usually around 12 hours annually. It’s also in the best interest of the massage therapist to learn the latest techniques and modalities to offer patients more. By expanding skills, the massage therapist can help grow the business and keep patients coming back.
- Provide the appropriate environment. Especially if you work in private practice, it’s vital to create an appropriate environment for patients. (If you work at another person’s practice, they will take care of many of these aspects for you.) Patients must feel at ease so that the massage therapy is most effective. That means providing a private place to change and then receive massage therapy, since most patients disrobe for massage therapy. Therapists must offer sufficient clean drapes to cover the areas of the body not receiving massage at that moment. Many use aromatherapy, soft music or sound effects, green plants or flowers and soothing decor to create a relaxing area for patients. The room must be kept scrupulously clean for the safety and comfort of each patient.
- Market your services. The old adage goes that if you’re doing business without marketing, you’re winking in the dark. You know what you’re doing but no one else does. Whether you employ someone else or do so yourself, marketing your business is absolutely essential for success.