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Chair Massage Certification, Training, and Careers

males therapist performing chair massage on female client

Chair massage is a brief session of bodywork during which the client is treated while sitting in a chair.

Massage therapists with chair massage training—also referred to as seated massage or on-site massage—treat clients in airports, workplaces, and many other settings.

The massage, which usually lasts between 5 and 30 minutes, may take place in a special massage chair or an ordinary chair, and focuses on the head, neck, shoulders, back and hips.

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to enter this specialized massage field.

Career Overview

If you’ve attended chair massage school, you’ll find that job opportunities are everywhere, from shopping malls to hospitals, from convention centers to sporting events. Many massage therapists provide chair massage services as a part of their regular practice, as a way of introducing a wider range of people to the benefits of massage through short, inexpensive sessions.

Also, more and more employers are recognizing the advantages of providing employees with on-site wellness care. As a result, many massage therapists with chair massage training work in the corporate world.

Chair Massage Certification and Education

What You’ll Study in Chair Massage School

At chair massage school, you’ll learn specialized massage techniques, as well as how to effectively adapt familiar massage skills to the seated massage session. As with other types of massage education, you’ll also learn about anatomy and physiology, body mechanics, business practices and professional ethics.

Average Length of Chair Massage Study

Although chair massage training at the basic level can be completed in as little as a few weeks, a full certificate or diploma program may require 500 to 1000 hours of study. An associate’s degree usually takes about 2 years to complete.

Chair Massage Certification

Massage therapists may be able to receive continuing education credits for chair massage training, ultimately leading to professional certification from the NCBTMB (National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork). NCBTMB certification requires at least 500 hours of study. However, local and state regulations vary, and not every state requires massage therapists to have a license or certification.

Career Outlook

Employment for massage therapists is projected to increase by 21% through 2029, which is a faster than average job growth rate according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Massage therapists with chair massage training will be well positioned to take advantage of this growth, with many job opportunities expected in the corporate world. Both the American Massage Therapy Association and the Bureau of Labor Statistics report that employers are showing an increasing interest in wellness, with well-known companies like Google and Eddie Bauer offering massage therapy to employees.

Chair Massage Salary

Chair massage training can earn you a solid income if you’re able to put in the hours. According to the AMTA, massage therapists who work on-site charge about $60 to $70 per hour, plus tips. However, if you work for a spa or franchise, your employer may take out a percentage of your overall earnings. You can research state and national massage therapist salary info from the BLS here:

Massage Therapists

National data

Median Salary: $43,620

Bottom 10%: $22,580

Top 10%: $79,150

Projected job growth: 32.2%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $36,300 $18,550 $52,970
Alaska $82,600 $22,140 $132,950
Arizona $43,240 $26,740 $66,690
Arkansas $47,200 $25,210 $63,410
California $34,400 $27,230 $80,940
Colorado $46,020 $25,170 $65,170
Connecticut $42,460 $24,340 $81,100
District of Columbia N/A N/A N/A
Florida $36,360 $19,770 $66,090
Georgia $23,490 $16,770 $69,490
Hawaii $55,700 $25,330 $89,120
Idaho $44,860 $23,520 $78,050
Illinois $49,940 $20,450 $76,900
Indiana $44,780 $27,060 $72,470
Iowa $36,120 $20,290 $68,740
Kansas $29,210 $17,770 $80,830
Kentucky $49,930 $18,710 $75,440
Louisiana $23,890 $17,000 $57,630
Maine $53,430 $27,910 $87,240
Maryland $41,440 $23,140 $83,190
Massachusetts $61,790 $41,880 $112,470
Michigan $49,840 $23,570 $75,540
Minnesota $54,400 $22,680 $83,810
Mississippi $34,870 $17,570 $50,860
Missouri $37,080 $20,050 $67,500
Montana $40,070 $19,230 $68,250
Nebraska $57,390 $31,290 $79,390
Nevada $28,260 $18,000 $85,180
New Hampshire $49,590 $32,070 $83,930
New Jersey $45,490 $23,420 $68,620
New Mexico $46,050 $24,320 $83,750
New York $52,560 $27,200 $89,200
North Carolina $41,220 $19,150 $67,460
North Dakota $45,790 $18,300 $65,590
Ohio $48,000 $20,150 $79,750
Oklahoma $38,030 $20,950 $52,940
Oregon $61,220 $26,010 $96,720
Pennsylvania $41,620 $21,460 $85,640
Rhode Island $28,110 $23,370 $55,690
South Carolina $36,170 $18,110 $60,240
South Dakota $30,550 $22,430 $48,450
Tennessee $42,560 $18,940 $83,240
Texas $41,820 $21,560 $63,430
Utah $44,250 $18,550 $73,450
Vermont $38,730 $24,650 $77,510
Virginia $43,690 $18,780 $63,630
Washington $65,140 $40,480 $86,640
West Virginia $39,660 $20,620 $75,740
Wisconsin $48,190 $19,300 $68,730
Wyoming $49,760 $28,510 $76,090

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

Sources: NCBTMB, NCCIH, American Massage Therapy Association.