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Rolfing® vs. Structural Integration

Discover the paths to practicing Structural Integration and a specific form of it called Rolfing®

woman receiving intense rolfing massage on shoulder

Overview of the Field

What is structural integration?

Structural integration is a form of bodywork that focuses on the connective tissue, or fascia, that protects the muscles.

What is Rolfing®?

Named after its founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Rolfing® is a specific form of Structural Integration bodywork. Through a series of gentle techniques, Rolfing® lengthens and repositions the fascia, which, in turn, helps release, realign and balance the whole body. Clients may experience dramatic improvements in posture, flexibility and energy levels.

What Is the Rolfing® Ten-Series

Aimed at optimizing the structure and function of a client’s entire body, Rolfing® involves a standard set of 10 sessions in which the practitioner frees restrictions in a particular area of the body. Divided into three distinct units, the “Ten-Series” works in this order:

  • Sessions 1-3: Focus on breath work, arms, lower legs, head, shoulders and hips
  • Sessions 4-7: Work on the core, feet and legs, pelvis, abdomen and back, neck and head
  • Sessions 8-10: Emphasize integration and allow the practitioner to determine the best techniques to use at this point for individual clients

The aim of Rolfing® is to reorganize the connective tissues, called fascia, that permeate the entire body.

Training and Education

What You’ll Study in General

Training is available at specialized structural integration schools and natural health degree schools. In addition to beginner and advanced training programs, you’ll also find continuing education classes that can help you fulfill credits needed to maintain licensure in other natural health practices.

In general, you can expect your Structural Integration school to offer classes that cover these topics:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Structural integration theory and principles
  • Movement integration
  • Maintaining professional therapeutic relationships with clients
  • Career development
  • Clinical application of theory

What You’ll Study at The Rolf Institute®

If your goal is to become a Rolfer®, DIRI’s® certification programs cover five areas of knowledge and skills:

  • Seeing
  • Touch
  • Embodiment
  • Therapeutic Relationship
  • Didactic

Average Length of Study

In general, structural Integration programs can involve close to 1,000 hours of combined classroom training and hands-on experience. Advanced practitioner programs may require around 600 hours of training. Generally, students can complete their program in 18 to 24 months.

Average Tuition

Tuition for standard structural integration school can cost $15,000 or more, generally speaking. Many training programs allow for a certain number of weeks between classes, which allows students to spread tuition costs over the course of many months.

For Rolfers® specifically, Dr. Ida Rolf Institute’s® Regional Basic Rolfing Certification Program is offered regionally across the US. It requires 600 hours and tuition for 2023 is $20,121. Plus another $1,012 in mandatory student fees.

Structural Integration Certification

General Structural Integration practitioners can get certified through the Certification Board for Structural Integration (CBSI)℠.

While those looking to become a Rolfer® must go through the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration. The Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration doing business as Dr. Ida Rolf Institute® (DIRI) is the only school, that trains Rolfers® and Rolf Movement Practitioners.

Although optional, certification shows that you have graduated from a structural integration school that meets established standards of excellence in education and that you demonstrate competency and proficiency in your practice.

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook indicates that massage-oriented professions, like Structural Integration, can anticipate significant job growth in the near future, around 18.3% through 2032.

Key factors contributing to this growth include the public’s continued interest in touch therapies as a means to reduce pain and stress and an aging population that continues to explore natural medicine as a means to achieve better wellness.

Learn more about what a massage therapist does day-to-day.

Structural Integration Salary

Find state and national salaries for massage therapists, a structural integration-related career, here:

Massage Therapists

National data

Median Salary: $49,860

Projected job growth: 18.3%

10th Percentile: $29,040

25th Percentile: $39,080

75th Percentile: $67,300

90th Percentile: $90,530

Projected job growth: 18.3%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $25,670 $18,780 $56,460
Alaska $127,470 $41,710 $151,400
Arizona $49,920 $29,920 $93,010
Arkansas $38,440 $25,480 $51,800
California $58,920 $30,830 $100,830
Colorado $51,010 $28,640 $72,520
Connecticut $66,140 $33,650 $122,620
Delaware N/A N/A N/A
District of Columbia $50,500 $40,150 $76,340
Florida $46,720 $29,000 $74,130
Georgia $46,720 $19,310 $71,890
Hawaii $61,520 $23,120 $104,050
Idaho $57,220 $31,810 $75,730
Illinois $60,880 $34,370 $95,840
Indiana $49,930 $33,770 $80,470
Iowa $47,450 $31,980 $63,510
Kansas $47,090 $22,280 $68,560
Kentucky $47,110 $23,500 $81,110
Louisiana $35,580 $18,780 $70,300
Maine $44,930 $27,550 $95,250
Maryland $57,860 $35,980 $101,330
Massachusetts $49,740 $35,840 $92,870
Michigan $58,240 $31,410 $87,240
Minnesota $48,600 $43,540 $74,870
Mississippi $45,330 $30,850 $108,440
Missouri $28,730 $23,190 $68,990
Montana $52,260 $22,430 $95,970
Nebraska $55,990 $25,910 $83,000
Nevada $36,010 $18,520 $63,470
New Hampshire $62,400 $40,960 $75,690
New Jersey $48,250 $29,960 $71,190
New Mexico $41,510 $26,080 $67,600
New York $49,350 $34,250 $97,690
North Carolina $55,170 $32,470 $108,330
North Dakota $49,330 $29,500 $80,110
Ohio $47,140 $29,640 $74,060
Oklahoma $47,350 $26,240 $54,080
Oregon $77,080 $34,430 $93,600
Pennsylvania $58,940 $29,170 $95,800
South Carolina $44,500 $17,560 $65,060
South Dakota $41,500 $29,650 $69,540
Tennessee $49,010 $20,450 $65,450
Texas $48,100 $24,290 $76,280
Utah $51,100 $24,420 $83,550
Vermont $80,360 $27,590 $103,760
Virginia $52,870 $25,060 $83,010
Washington $76,290 $39,160 $99,960
West Virginia $48,550 $25,690 $76,130
Wisconsin $47,180 $19,110 $78,990
Wyoming $49,650 $31,150 $53,900

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. 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.

Learn more about massage therapist salaries.

Is a Structural Integration Career Right for You?

Structural integration welcomes practitioners from all backgrounds, whether they have experience in bodywork careers or not.

Building your career takes training in structural integration techniques combined with an in-depth understanding of how it can improve the structure and function of the body and how to convey to clients the role that body movements play in their health.

If you are interested in a structural integration career, take a closer look at structural integration schools. Then choose the training program that meets your personal and professional needs.

Sources: Rolf.org, Rolfguild.org