10 Tips for Future Massage Therapists

April 12, 2024

Massage therapy can be a rewarding and flexible career, offering opportunities in a variety of settings. However, if you are planning on enrolling in a massage therapy program, you may have questions about what to expect in your career. Here are 10 tips to consider when planning your future as a Licensed Massage Therapist.

1. Find your niche.

Understanding your passions and priorities will help you make fulfilling choices throughout your career. For example, a licensed massage therapist who loves to travel might find working on a cruise ship more rewarding than opening a private practice. Our career placement services are available to current and former students to help determine the best career path for you.

2. Follow industry trends.

Staying up to date on industry trends will maximize the impact of your practice. Understanding why clients are seeking massage therapy will help you to tailor client offerings. For example, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), stress reduction is often a primary reason that clients pursue massage therapy. To facilitate relaxation, you might consider incorporating other offerings into your practice. Aromatherapy, light therapy, and guided meditations are easy to incorporate and can create additional value for your clients.

3. Keep learning.

Continued education is vital to a successful career in massage therapy. A New York State massage license is valid for 3 years. While you will not be required to complete coursework during your first registration period, New York State requires all massage therapists to complete 36 hours of coursework to re-register every 3 years thereafter. Making a plan for your continued education will help you develop your knowledge base throughout your career.

4. Let the client lead.

As massage therapists, our purpose is to help our clients achieve their health and wellness goals. For some clients, relaxation may be the goal, and they may prefer a silent session. For others, light chatter may be appropriate. Some may even use the session as a chance to get some much-needed sleep. In any case, allow the client’s specific needs to guide your interaction.

5. Educate your clients.

During the intake process, ask your client to describe their goals for treatment. With these goals in mind, you may be able to educate your client on lifestyle modifications to facilitate their progress. For example, if your client is hoping to reduce stress, you might recommend practicing daily mindfulness through grounding or breathwork. Offering guidance within your area of expertise is a great way to promote client relief.

6. Be versatile.

The massage therapist training program at The Institute for Holistic Health includes over 1,000 hours of classroom instruction, including over 300 hours of hands-on practice using a variety of massage modalities. This versatile approach will be an asset to your future practice. As a licensed massage therapist, it is essential to adapt your therapeutic approach to meet the unique needs of each client. For example, treating a client with a localized injury will require an understanding of how to treat the injured area and a sense of which techniques will effectively reduce pain.

7. Stay organized.

Licensed massage therapists are generally required to take notes and maintain client files. Documenting client visits in an organized way can help you keep track of client progress and share details with other healthcare providers when appropriate. Digital applications exist to make notetaking easier, but some employers may already have a method they’d like you to use.

8. Develop a professional network.

The connections you make at The Institute for Holistic Health are the foundation of your professional network. Fostering positive relationships with local employers and other Licensed Massage Therapists will help you strategically navigate job opportunities and determine where your services are needed most. Connecting with professionals in other sectors of the health and wellness industry is also recommended, as these relationships can help to expand your client base through referrals.

9. Practice ethical principles.

Ethics are of paramount importance for all healthcare professionals. As massage therapists, we need to establish guidelines to protect ourselves and our clients from unpleasant experiences in the therapeutic environment. Students at The Institute for Holistic Health will receive extensive ethical training in our prerequisite course, Professional Development and Ethics. Still, it is a good idea to consult the AMTA Code of Ethics (or confer with an employer or colleague) if you encounter a question of ethics in your future practice.

10. Take time for yourself.

Healthcare professionals are susceptible to burnout. It is important to remember that we cannot care for our clients unless we have cared for ourselves. Incorporating self-care rituals into your daily routine can help defend against burnout and promote wellness, allowing you to practice as the therapist you want to be.