How to Become a Certified Massage Therapist

If you want to join this booming industry, keep reading this article. We’ll outline the steps on how to become a massage therapist.

In addition, we’ll talk about the duration of their study program and average annual earnings. Before anything else, let’s review the roles of these practitioners.

We will also look at the education requirements for massage therapists.

Massage Therapy Training

Are you interested in holistic and complementary medicine?

Then, a career in massage therapy will be right for you. The occupation primarily concerns helping millions cope with physical ailments, sore muscles, and emotional distress.

Workers in this field often complete specialized training and gain relevant skills. That way, they can help their client relieve pain, improve their well-being, and reduce stress.

  • Responsibilities of a Massage Therapist

In the clinical sector, an expert helps soothe tension and soreness and encourages patient relaxation.

They achieve that by manipulating the soft tissues in their body. A massage therapist can provide therapy that aids injury recovery or promotes overall bodily and mental wellness.

Furthermore, they can create a calming and therapeutic space for each client, develop a tailored massage therapy plan, and keep track of the patient’s progress.

Checking clients to ensure their comfort during sessions, using specific types of massage techniques, and recommending holistic products and exercise are additional duties of these experts.

So, what does it take to become a massage therapist? Let’s find out.

Massage Therapy Education

There are many requirements to be a massage therapist.

Also, growing into an expert in this field involves several steps.  To begin with, you’ll need to enroll in a certified massage therapy school or training program.

After meeting the minimum academic essentials, you’ll head on to gain experience. After that, you seek certification or license. If you don’t mind, let’s review these steps individually.

  • Meet the Minimum Academic Essentials

Before pursuing a career in massage therapy, you’ll need at least a high school diploma or GED.

These credentials will help you secure admission into specialized training programs swiftly. Moreover, you’ll be provided with a foundational knowledge of the field.

After finishing high school, you must complete massage therapy training. You can opt for a certificate or diploma degree program in a certified institution.

These programs typically take about six months to two years to finish. They’re intended to prepare you for board certification and licensure exams.

You’ll cover anatomy, pathology, physiology, kinesiology, and various massage techniques during your studies. Other relevant topics are body mechanics, medical terminology, and massage ethics.

  • Gain Hands-On Experience

It’s crucial to acquire industry experience when taking this career path. Having such proficiency will increase your chances of securing a high-paying job.

In addition, you’ll provide the best therapy to your clients. You can gain industry experience through an internship or at a school’s massage clinic.

That said, each state has conditions for the hours of hands-on experience you’ll need before getting a license. In some states, you must finish at least 330 to 1000 hours of clinical training.

Such training is to be obtained under the direct supervision of a licensed massage therapist.

This is how to be a licensed massage therapist that makes a difference.

  • Seek a State Permit

You don’t require a state-issued license to enter this occupation. However, you must have one because it will allow you to work unrestricted within the country.

Most states often use the MBLEx to determine a candidate’s qualification status. The test is 100 multiple-choice questions that must be answered in under two hours.

Questions are obtained from different topics, including kinesiology, pathology, benefits, and anatomy, physiology. Others are practice guidelines, ethics, client assessment, and more.

You’re required to pass this test with at least a score of 630. If you cannot meet the minimum score line, you can retake the exam after 30 days.

  • Acquire Certification

Similarly, you don’t require an attestation of competency to enter this field. However, the credential can be a valuable asset for you.

It’ll demonstrate your expertise in a specific type of massage to prospective employers. Moreover, it will distinguish you from other applicants in a competitive job market.

Some certifications you can obtain include AAS, BCTMB, CESI, SM, MMT, SMT, and ZBC. Other qualifications can be earned in veterinary massage, spa management, palliative care, clinical rehab, and sports massage.

Some recognized nongovernmental organizations provide these credentials. Before receiving either of them, you’ll need to fulfill certain conditions.

These include having the minimum academic certificate, hands-on experience, and passing the qualification exams.

Updating Your Massage License or Certification

Obtaining a state-issued permit or attestation of competence isn’t the end. You’ll need to renew these credentials after a certain period.

While updating them, you’ll be required to meet certain conditions. One is to complete some hours of continued education in massage therapy.

Those with BCTMB licensure will be asked to finish 24 hours of continuing education and 100 hours of clinical experience. However, some states require therapists to maintain liability insurance to keep their credentials.

Consider joining Professional Organizations.

While practicing, you may join some professional organizations for massage therapists. It’s an excellent way to stay connected and updated in the field.

Most of these associations often provide possibilities for networking with other experts in the industry. Moreover, they will allow you to learn from their experiences and expertise.

What’s more? Professional agencies may also offer you access to resources such as research papers, industry publications, and forums for discussions on best practices and new developments.

Finally, as a member of a recognized organization, you’ll enhance your credibility and reputation.

Cost of Finishing a Massage Therapy Program

Before considering this profession, you must learn about the cost of completing a massage therapy training program. This will help you make informed decisions regarding your finances.

Plus, know whether or not the career path is right for you.

Based on research, the average cost of finishing a massage therapy program is around $3,000 to $15,000. However, this amount is subject to change based on critical factors—your choice of institution, schedule, and residential status.

Average Salary for a Massage Therapist

This occupation is among the most lucrative in the clinical industry. According to BLS reports, practitioners in this field receive an average of $75,958 annually.

While true, this amount may differ based on some fundamental elements. These include your educational background, experience level, geographical location, place of work, and massage techniques.

Certification can also affect how much money you can make in this profession. So, before taking a job offer, you’ll need to weigh these factors to make the best choice.

Meanwhile, BLS still reports that employment possibilities in this field will increase by 32% from now to 2030. This percentage is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.


Is becoming a massage therapist worth it? Yes.

It’s excellent you want to become a massage therapist. You’ll have the chance to assist people in recovering from injuries faster than expected.

However, before becoming an expert in this field, you must satisfy the abovementioned steps. Use this guide to help you make informed decisions regarding your future career.