Massage Therapists help clients to relieve stress, pain and muscle tension by manipulating soft tissue on different parts of the body. They work in a wide range of professional settings from spas to sports injury clinics, depending on the area they specialise in. If you’re considering becoming a qualified Massage therapist in 2020, our expert guide for Massage Therapists in training is packed full of advice and tips on how to kickstart your new career.
1. Take a Massage Therapy Course
The best way to prepare for a career in massage therapy is to gain hands-on practice by earning a recognised qualification online. By taking a professional massage therapy training course, such as an introductory Massage Therapist Course, you’ll develop the skills and industry knowledge, as well as an insight into how to set up a massage therapy business. Taught by an expert instructor, you’ll learn about the different types of massage therapy, the tools and equipment you’ll need, health and safety best practice, and techniques to use. Before you enrol, decide whether you want to choose a general massage therapy course or focus on one particular treatment.
2. Pick Your Specialism
The art of massage goes back thousands of years, to ancient China when the first form of acupuncture was introduced. Today, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to massage therapy treatments. At first, you may want to stick to a general massage certification, but later on, you might want to explore a specific area of massage to specialise in. Some forms of massage are more focused on alleviating specific physical ailments, like deep tissue massages, while others are more focused on relieving stress and clearing the mind, such as a Swedish massage.
Some of the types of massage you can gain a recongised qualification in are:
- Aromatherapy Massage
- Deep Tissue Massage
- Baby Massage
- Hot Stone Massage
- Indian Head Massage
- Sports Massage
- Swedish Massage
- Shiatsu Massage
- Thai Massage
- Pregnancy and Post-natal Massage
3. Study the Art of Massage
To really understand how massage therapy works and to master its techniques, it’s important to do your research. This can be in the form of practising on friends or browsing your local library for books on bodywork. You can also watch video tutorials online carried out by certified professionals. Many Massage Therapists see the role as a pivotal part of their spiritual way of life, and so massage therapy becomes ingrained in who they are.
4. Decide if you Want to Work for a Company or Start a Business
It used to be that all massage therapists were self-employed and worked for themselves. Nowadays, there’s a lot more choice when it comes to career options in this field. You can decide to start your own business and build your clients organically or work in a professional setting such as a health spa. With an increasing number of salaried jobs on the market, the choice is yours. Keep in mind, however, that if you are set on starting your own business, then you will need to obtain necessary permits and licenses.
5. Know Your Target Market
Whether you wish to become a self-employed business owner or want to work full-time for a particular company, it’s important to identify your clientele and competitors. A successful Massage Therapist builds positive relationships with clients by understanding ways to connect with them. They could be sports athletes looking to alleviate pain from injury, pregnant women looking for a holistic experience, or overworked business professionals looking to de-stress. To keep them coming back, you must know what their general expectations are and the types of products to recommend.
6. Understand the Skills Required
Being a Massage Therapist requires a certain set of qualities and professional attributes, including excellent customer service. Before you decide if this career is right for you, take a look at the necessary skills for the role, and make a mental note of the ones you have or need to develop further:
- Customer service
- Interpersonal/social skills
- Physical stamina
- Listening skills
- Sales skills
- Time Management
- Active Learning
7. Establish Where You Want to Work
Over half of all massage therapists work at a client’s home or office, on a self-employed basis, while many choose to work in their own office or home. But Massage Therapists can also work in spas, fitness centres, hotels and franchised clinics. You even have the option to work in a healthcare environment, which includes hospices, community health services and cancer centres.
8. Practice Your Technique
Beginners who are just starting out and have no practical experience will benefit greatly from practising massage therapy techniques on close friends and family. This way, you get to understand what clients want, their different ailments, and how to identify the signs of muscle tension. You will also develop valuable communication, listening and empathy skills.
9. Act Like a Pro
Excellent etiquette and a high level of professionalism are two essential qualities that are looked for in a Massage Therapist. This means being punctual, having all your equipment and paperwork ready, maintaining a high standard of hygiene, taking care of your appearance, and maintaining appropriate boundaries with your clientele. Sometimes a client may want to share gossip with you or personal information, which you must listen to but never indulge in if you want to maintain an air of professionalism. The golden rule is to make clients feel comfortable and well-looked after.
10. Look After Your Mind, Body and Soul
As well all know, getting a massage is a highly relaxing experience, however, if you’re the one performing the treatment, it can be very physically demanding – especially as the day goes on. That’s why it’s crucial to stay fit and healthy to be able to work to your best ability. Much stamina is needed to perform excellent bodywork, and some massages can be more physically demanding than others. Remember, massage therapy works best when both the client and therapist are relaxed and free of stress! Some things you can do to boost your performance at work are:
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Follow a healthy diet plan
- Go to bed early
- Exercise regularly
- Meditate/practice mindfulness
11. Have a Genuine Passion for the Role
In the massage therapy industry, having a genuine passion for helping people is essential to the role. If you genuinely care about your clients’ wellbeing, wanting to impart your specialist knowledge to help them overcome their ailments, it will show in your performance and will enhance their overall experience. When your heart is not in it, you simply won’t perform at your best. Remember, massage therapy is a spiritual as well as physical practice, and positive energy is key in this type of environment.
12. Know how the Muscular System Works
Having a good grasp of basic human anatomy and physiology sets the excellent Massage Therapist apart from the mediocre ones. Having in-depth knowledge of how the muscular system works and the physical effects of massage is the basis for a successful career in this field. It’s not all about technique and form; it’s about understanding the body, its energy systems, and how it reacts to pain, stress and illness.
13. Keep up-to-date on the Latest Products and Trends
Full body massage treatments will always be popular, but just like any other industry, there are always new trends, techniques and products to look out for. Did you know that 90% of social media users reach out to companies and brands? If you’re thinking of starting a massage therapy business, it’s vital to be social media savvy, as many of your clients will be acquired online rather than face-to-face. Also, keeping an eye out for the latest products and tools is essential if you want to stay ahead of your competitors.
14. Be Consistent and Organised
Sometimes a client won’t reschedule at the time of the appointment, and so it helps to be organised and set up a massage scheduling software to keep track of your follow-ups. Make sure there is a system in place that allows you to manage the loyal clients you already have rather than concentrate on the prospect of acquiring new ones. If you own your own business, you’ll have to manage your time and money efficiently to achieve an ideal work-life balance.
So, is Massage Therapy for You?
If you think you have what it takes to become a qualified Massage Therapist, then now is a better time than ever to enter this diverse industry. Whether you choose to run a massage therapy business of your own or work for a particular company, you’ve got to be 100% committed and dedicated before you jump straight in. And as this competitive job market continues to grow, now is the time to seize the opportunity to make the most of this rapidly expanding profession.