Massage Therapist Salary

As a massage therapist, you’ll have some great earning opportunities—it’s all about where you work and how you take advantage of those opportunities.

How much can a massage therapist make?

According to the 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for massage therapists is $37,180 per year. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.

When you decide to enroll in a massage therapy program, you can either complete the minimal training hours to begin working as quickly as possible, or you can complete more hours to specialize in a particular type of massage. The latter can sometimes yield a better paycheck in the future due to your expertise in a specific area.

Your earning potential as a massage therapist will depend on your workplace and your ability to build a large client base. Establishing a regular list of clients can provide a steady income and gives you the potential to earn more.

And here’s something to work toward: The BLS reports that top 10 percent of those working in massage therapy earn more than $71,950 annually.

How do massage therapist salaries compare?

Natural Health Career Median Annual Salary*
Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides $41,640
Athletic Trainers $43,370
Skin Care Specialists $29,050
Cosmetologists $23,200

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Massage Therapists; Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides; Athletic Trainers; Skin Care Specialists; Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Is there demand for this career?

As more health care practitioners view massage as an important part of overall patient wellness, the demand for skilled massage therapists has grown. With massage now recognized as a legitimate way to treat injury and mental health issues, places other than spas will look to hire massage therapists.

Is this a growing field?

According to BLS data, employment for massage therapists is predicted to grow by 22 percent through the year 2024.

For comparison, the average predicted rate for employment growth for other careers is only 7 percent through 2024, making massage therapy a faster-growing field. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions.

How much competition will I face for a job?

You’ll likely come across the most competition for jobs at high-end spas. Since these facilities are generally more expensive, there may be a higher pay rate, as well as greater opportunities for generous gratuity.

If you’re just starting out and want to deal with less competition, consider looking for jobs at airports, hotels and corporate environments. Many companies hire massage therapists to visit their office regularly to provide chair massages to stressed-out employees.

Another way to separate yourself from competition is to specialize in an in-demand type of massage therapy, like Asian bodywork or medical massage. Becoming a specialist in a certain type of massage can give you an edge over other massage therapists.

What kinds of institutions hire massage therapists?

Generally, massage therapists are hired by an assortment of very different types of facilities, including:

  • Personal care services: 40,900
  • Offices of other health practitioners: 26,970
  • Traveler accommodations (hotels): 8,310
  • Other amusement and recreation industries: 3,710

While you may not go out on your own at first, the number one career path for massage therapists is self-employment. Many massage therapists work independently.

How do I advance in my massage therapist career?

Advancing in your massage therapist career is all about experience—the more you practice, the better chance for advancement.

Because you don’t need a higher degree to advance in the massage therapy field, you won’t need to worry about paying to go back to school. Instead, gathering a large client base is the best way to move forward in your career.

There is an option of returning to massage therapy school to train in a certain type of massage, like Asian bodywork. Doing so can help make you an expert in a specific type of massage and therefore help you earn more clients.

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