From times immemorial, massage therapists have been using their “magic touch” to treat many health and wellness related problems. In the UK, massage became popular in the 1800s after the Swedish remedial massage techniques made their way into the English-speaking world. Over the years, its benefits have become more widely known and recognized by the medical authorities. Owing to this increased popularity, there has been a growing demand for massage therapists not only in the UK but around the world. It is a promising career that offers growth, flexibility and satisfaction.
If you are looking to make a career as a massage therapist, this guide is for you. It offers a quick glance at what massage therapists do, qualities you need to become a massage therapist, how to get certified to become a therapist and finally, what to expect in your career as a massage therapist. Here we go.
What Do Massage Therapists Do?
Massage therapists use a variety of techniques to manipulate the clients’ soft body tissue and muscles. The overall aim is to help them relax, treat sports injuries, provide relief from long-term health conditions, improve circulation, alleviate effects of depression and anxiety and promote overall well-being. Simply speaking, massage therapy is aimed at making people feel better.
There are various types of massage therapies that they employ including shiatsu, Swedish, Indian head massage, Thai massage, aromatherapy, deep tissue, remedial and sports.
Duties of a massage therapist include:
- Consulting with clients to determine their problem areas or identifying their reason for seeking massage therapy (relaxation, pain relief, any other)
- Checking the client’s diet, lifestyle and medical history
- Planning a course of treatment and discussing it with the client
- Applying pressure to different areas of the body to ease tension
- Administering treatments such as deep tissue massage
- Advising clients on making improvements in life and about their general well being
- Completing the decided course of treatment
- Referring the client to medical professionals if required
Do I Have The Qualities That Make A Good Massage Therapist?
Massage is a very intimate experience and requires a lot of skill, patience and empathy. Here are some qualities that a massage therapist should possess.
- Excellent interpersonal skills
- Ability to build trust with clients and put them at ease
- Manual dexterity and practical skills
- Friendly and personable to attract clients
- The ability to show empathy to the clients
- Excellent listening and communication skills
- Physical fitness
- Administrative and commercial skills to run a business efficiently
What Are The Entry Requirements For Becoming A Massage Therapist?
While you do not need a degree to become a massage therapist, but, it will help if you have the following:
- General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) at grades 9 to 4 in human biology or biology, or a certificate in physiology and anatomy
- A certification from one of the professional institutes offering courses in massage therapy
Which Institutes Offer Courses In Massage Therapy?
Some employers prefer their massage therapists to have a specialist training or a certification recognised by the Council for Soft Tissue Therapies. There are several institutes offering courses in massage therapy. Here are some options available for those seeking massage training.
This specialist training institute offering diploma courses and postgraduate courses in:
- Sports Massage
- Holistic Massage
- Baby massage
- Thai Massage
- Indian Head Massage
- Other body therapies
The institute offers courses both basic and advanced level courses. The courses are part-time and held over the weekends, daytime or evenings giving students the flexibility to complete their training at their convenience.
London school of massage is accredited by VTCT, ITEC, CThA, IICT and FHT, so their courses are widely recognized.
The City Literary Institute offers several courses in massage therapy that are held both over the weekdays and weekends. They offer courses for beginners as well as professionals seeking to advance their knowledge. City Lit offers courses in:
- Indian Head Massage
- Natural remedies for health and wellbeing
- Complementary therapies
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage(MLD)
The City Literary Institute is a not-for-profit organization.
It is an ITEC Approved training institute offering massage therapy courses for all levels. They have basic courses for complete beginners and continuing professional development (CPD) courses for those who want to pursue advanced level courses. For complete beginners with no previous experience, Gateway Workshops offers courses in the following:
- Baby massage therapy
- Chair massage, Seated acupressure
- First aid courses for therapists
- Hand, feet, arm and leg massage
- Hopi ear candling
- Indian head massage
- Swedish, Holistic, Fully body massage
- Thai foot massage
- Natural lift facial massage
Their fast-track course is for three months. After completion of this foundation course, you can go for any of the specialized courses in pregnancy massage, deep tissue massage, baby massage or other therapies. The institute also offers one-day diploma courses. Even these short courses are insurable, and you can use the therapy professionally after completing these courses.
London College of Massage Is recognised by the BCMA, FHT, APNT and various other associations. After completing the course at London College of Massage and getting certified, you can get indemnity insurance and practice massage therapy anywhere in the UK.
London College of Massage offers three courses: two introductory courses and one advanced level course. To become a certified massage therapist and to be able to practice anywhere in the UK, you need to complete the advanced level course. The duration of the introductory courses is one weekend each, and for the advanced course, it is five weekends.
The practitioner’s diploma course covers the following topics:
- Professional Appearance
- Hygiene and Preparation
- Detailed Contra-Indications
- Detailed Case History
- Treatment Composition
- Massage techniques
- Effleurage and Petrissage
- Additional Work for Arms, Hands and Front of Legs
- Forehead Nerve Compression and Face Shiatsu
London School of Massage offers some online courses as well. All their courses can be booked online.
Bodyology massage courses are accredited by the Massage Training Institute and comply with the General Council for Massage Therapy and National Occupational Standards. They offer a Professional Massage Diploma course for those who want to become a massage therapist. The Diploma course is a nine-month course, spanning eleven weekends. The course covers the following topics:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Massage techniques
- Deep Tissue
- Communication skills
- Business skills
They offer a one-day ‘Massage taster day’ course that you can take to experience everything first-hand before you enrol for the professional course. They refund this course fee once you enrol in the professional course.
The training room offers an ITEC Level 3 Qualification in Massage Therapy. It’s a part-time course covering the following topics:
- Body Massage
- Indian Head Massage
- Client Care and Communication in Beauty Related Industries
- Massage using Pre-Blended Aromatherapy Oils
- Stone Therapy Massage
- Health and Safety
Courses are available at different locations and can be booked on their site.
What Salary Or Income Can A Massage Therapist Expect?
Most massage therapists are self-employed, but some others choose to work in a spa or clinic to gain experience and confidence before they can run their own business. For the self-employed massage therapists, the pay will depend on how many clients they attract, the number of hours they work and the amount of money they charge.
Normally, massage therapists charge between £20-£30 an hour, but the more up-market clinics and spas can charge as much as £60-£80 an hour. Massage therapists can earn a decent amount of tips as well.
How Is The Work Environment?
Massage therapists have a relatively stress-free work life. If they are self-employed, they can choose their own working hours. However, they may have to work outside the regular working hours on weekends or evenings depending on the needs of the clients. The work pattern would also depend on whether the massage therapist works from home, a spa, a complementary therapy clinic or a hospital.
While massage can be relaxing for the client, it can be tiring for the therapist because they must stand for long hours and apply pressure constantly. However, working as a massage therapist is a rewarding and satisfying career. It allows you to meet new people every day and work in a therapeutic and calming environment.
How Can A Massage Therapist Progress On This Career Path?
Massage therapists can improve their earning potential or job prospects by learning new massage techniques and becoming more qualified. If you are an expert in Swedish massage, you can move on to sports or deep tissue massage. This way, you will be able to cater to a wider clientele. Once you have gained experience and built up a reputation and client base, you can set up your own business.
If you think you have the passion and qualities it takes to become a good massage therapist, get yourself enrolled in comprehensive training courses and kickstart a rewarding career.