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Sports Massage Training and Careers

woman athlete having calf rubbed by trainer

Get Sports Massage Therapy Training and Start a Career in Sports

Professional sports stars, amateur athletes, and even those of us aspiring to live more active lifestyles can all benefit from sports massage therapy.

From flexibility to rehabilitation, sports massage training teaches students how to treat a wide range of muscle and performance issues and emphasizes injury prevention as key to boosting the life of a person’s sporting career.

Career Overview

Sports massage therapists deliver treatments before professional competitions to help improve an athlete’s flexibility and after competitions to alleviate injuries or keep muscles from tightening. They might also work in private practice, health care or athletic facilities where they provide sports massage therapy to everyday clients seeking some of the many benefits of sports massage, such as these:

  • Faster recovery from strenuous workouts
  • Increased flexibility and long range motion
  • Increased blood circulation
  • Reduced muscle spasms and strain
  • Reduced blood pressure and stress
  • Rehabilitation from injuries or chronic pain

Training and Education

What You’ll Study in Sports Massage Therapy School

As part of an overall massage therapy curriculum, sports massage training encompasses a wide range of modalities. Practitioners can use these sports-specific techniques on-site at events like marathons, cycling tours or triathlons or in a private office as part of maintenance or preventive health regimens.

Students interested in sports massage training can expect to take classes that cover these topics:

Average Length of Study

Sports massage training programs generally involve 700 or more hours of combined classroom and hands-on clinical practice. On average, students can complete their training in about 12 months.

Average Tuition

Tuition for sports massage training ranges from $10,000 to $20,000. Sports massage training at community colleges might cost a little less, and private massage schools might cost a little more. Many massage schools offer financial aid packages to help students cover the costs of their sports massage training.

Sports Massage Licensing

Sports massage therapists must meet the same requirements for licensing in their state as other massage therapists. Typically, this means graduating from an accredited massage therapy program and passing the MBLEx.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) current Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of massage-related occupation, like sports massage therapy, will grow at much faster than average rate. The country’s ongoing interest in health and fitness, and in massage as a means to achieving flexibility and reducing stress, will play a significant role in the career outlook for sports massage therapists over the coming decade.

Sports Massage Therapy Salary

Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience, and a variety of other factors. You can search and compare massage therapy salaries for your state here.

Massage Therapists

National data

Median Salary: $43,620

Bottom 10%: $22,580

Top 10%: $79,150

Projected job growth: 20.6%

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 2029. 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 Sports Massage Therapy Career Right for You?

A career in sports massage requires training in a broad range of massage therapy modalities, in-depth knowledge of injuries and rehabilitative treatments, and, in many cases, a willingness to stand ready and waiting on the sidelines of sporting events to treat participants in urgent situations. Additionally, you’ll need strong communication and business skills to help you build a sports massage practice.

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

Sources: SportsInjuringClinic.net, HolisticOnline.com, Cortiva.com, Nevada School of Massage Therapy, National Holistic Institute