Benefits of a Degree in Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a natural approach to lowering stress, easing muscle pain and promoting overall health and wellness. It is a practice that encourages relaxation of the body and mind. As more people seek alternatives to pain medication, there is a push towards natural options such as massages. This transition will create many new job openings for massage therapists.

A career in massage therapy requires individuals who are:

  • Socially perceptive
  • Active listeners
  • Service oriented
  • Effective communicators

If you find happiness in helping individuals discover natural methods to address body pain, then massage therapy could be an ideal career for you.

A degree in massage therapy is one way in which you can join this growing field.

Is a Degree Necessary?

There are two paths that lead to earning a license as a massage therapist. You can either earn a certificate or earn a degree.

A bachelor’s degree can be sought for those who want to elevate their understanding of massage therapy or for those who wish to specialize in a particular area of massage therapy. Although a bachelor’s degree is not required to become a licensed massage therapist it could be more beneficial to you, depending on your career goals.

An associate’s degree in massage therapy is the lowest level degree that can be applied towards earning a license. We will focus on this degree type throughout the rest of the article.

What You Learn with a Degree

An associate’s in massage therapy is commonly classified as an Associate of Applied Science (AAS). While massage therapy is the topic you focus on for your degree, an AAS is the degree classification.

The courses you will take while working towards earning a massage therapy degree will be a mixture of lectures, labs and hands-on experience. You can expect to see some of the following courses in your curriculum:

  • Kinesiology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Massage practicum
  • Massage business principles
  • Techniques in massage therapy

Professors will work with you to build your knowledge base of massage therapy. They will also teach you other skills that can be applied in order to become a well-rounded and knowledgeable professional.

Benefits of Earning a Degree

Earning a certificate teaches you the basic practices of massage therapy. A certificate focuses only on massage and does not take the time to teach other practical skills.

Earning a massage therapy degree requires you to complete classes in communication, social science and humanities. These classes have the potential to advance your understanding of professional communication, ethics and how to address conflict, which are skills that are highly sought after in professional settings. Having them can increase your chances of getting picked for a job over an applicant who has only earned a certificate.

A massage therapy degree also sets you up to learn much more about the field as a whole. This type of knowledge can be more appealing to employers and can give you an edge when applying for jobs.

A certificate can take between eight months to a year to earn, while a massage therapy degree can take one to two years to complete, depending on your commitment to the program. With only a year difference between the two programs, why not take the plunge and commit to a program that offers you more?

Should the Program be Accredited?

Whether or not your massage therapy program needs to be accredited varies depending on the state in which you seek to practice.

States that regulate massage therapy have specific boards dedicated to managing massage therapy licensing. Most states require that massage therapists complete between 500 and 700 credit hours from a board approved massage therapy school.

You will need to check with the state that you intend to practice in to see if the program that you are interested in is approved.

The following states do not regulate massage therapy:

  • Alaska
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Vermont
  • Wyoming

For states that do not regulate massage therapy, the requirements for practicing will depend on the company that you are interested in working for. Most business will still require some sort of certification or degree, but the need for the program to be accredited will depend on the business.


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