Thinking about starting a career in massage therapy? It’s important to know that it’s a multistep process that comes with certain educational requirements. Both private and public postsecondary schools both offer programs in massage therapy, and you usually need at least a high school diploma or GED to get into these programs. A few programs confer bachelor’s degrees, but most are at the certificate and associate’s degree level. Some certificate programs may last up to two years, but most require less than one. An associate’s degree is completed in two years and a bachelor’s degree in four.

Programs primarily cover the hands-on techniques of a given massage modality. Techniques can include soothing, tapping and kneading strokes as in Swedish massage, or direct pressure, friction slides, and slow strokes as in deep muscle massage. Courses may also include healthy living practices, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, business management, and professional ethics. Electives might include pregnancy and labor massage, sports massage, or stone massage. Some may also touch on aromatherapy, homeopathy, herbalism, meditation, tai chi, and yoga.

Certification Requirements for Massage Therapists

Currently, 45 states have some form of licensing and regulation for massage therapy. Many states require practitioners to complete a training program, pass an examination and renew their credentials every four years. The examination may be the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB), the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), or one specifically developed by the state. Renewal of credentials with the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork entails performing 100 hours of massage therapy and completing a continuing education program.

What Conditions Can Massage Therapy Treat?

Today, massage therapists play an important role in caring for a variety of medical issues, from the rehabilitation of injuries to clinical depression. Their role is to listen to their clients’ needs and provide a massage experience to treat these issues. Some of the medical issues for which massage therapy can be an appropriate adjunctive treatment include:

  • Low back pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Carpal tunnel-like symptoms
  • Sciatica-like symptoms
  • Calf cramps
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Knee pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ disorders)
  • Hip pain
  • Headaches
  • Iliotibial band friction syndrome

What Are the Benefits of Massage Therapy?

In general, patients who undergo massage therapy can experience the following benefits:

  • Reduced or complete elimination of pain
  • Higher levels of flexibility and strength
  • Increased ease and efficiency of movement
  • Better posture
  • Balanced musculoskeletal and nervous systems
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Lower levels of body toxins
  • Higher levels of energy and vitality

Massage Programs at AIAM

If you are interested in learning more about a career in massage therapy, you should consider committing to AIAM’s School of Massage. These rigorous programs focus on giving prospective massage therapists the holistic and practical skills to connect, comfort, relieve and assist patients with overall wellness.

AIAM’s massage therapy programs have been running for 20 years – making them some of the longest-running in the Midwest. Beyond the education requirements, you can expect to learn key business skills and professionalism, which sets you up for a rewarding, long-lasting career as a registered massage therapist.

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