Choosing a Massage School: A How-to Guide

 By: Laurie Craig
Choosing the right massage school is an important consideration on your path to becoming a massage therapist. Throughout your massage therapy program, you will be taught a variety of massage therapy techniques, ranging from Swedish, deep tissue, orthopedic, cross fiber, and neuromuscular. You will also be introduced to other elements of massage therapy that will have a lasting impact on your career as a massage therapist, including ethics, massage equipment and tools, anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology.

Choosing a massage school involves identifying a school that has everything you need to be successful when becoming a massage therapist. Factors to consider should include the program schedule and the length of time required for completion, quality of instruction, commute time, and the cost of your education. Research is vital in helping you make your decision.

Factors to Consider When Becoming a Massage Therapist

Teacher experience: Take the time to meet the instructors when you visit a massage school and perhaps even sit in on a class to discover their unique teaching styles. Find out what teachers will be involved in your education and what their qualifications are. Ask how long the teachers have been teaching in their field and how long they have been with the school. You might also consider talking to current students and graduates of the massage school to see what they think about the program. Conducting a little online research of your own may give you a better picture about individual experience at this particular massage school.

Geography: When becoming a massage therapist, different individuals may consider commute time more or less important. The quality of the massage school curriculum and instructors may make a longer commute worth the time and effort.

State authorization: Ensure that your state's governing massage therapy board recognizes the school. In order to operate in any state, the massage school must be fully authorized. Each school is required to post documentation indicating compliance with state mandated guidelines. Ask to see this documentation if it is not pointed out in your visit to the school.

Courses: Some massage schools tout classes that might not be essential for everyone interested in becoming a massage therapist. Though most massage schools offer the same or very similar curricula, others might add information or techniques that may be useful for some but could create more of an overload to students than a learning opportunity. Each state specifies the subject matter and required hours in the curriculum; anything beyond that is not necessary to fulfill state requirements. (In the state of Georgia, the requirement for massage therapy education is 500 hours.) How the information is sequenced and presented is a key difference between schools.

Class schedule: Determine if the massage school offers a program that can work with your current schedule. While some individuals may be able to accommodate classes that require a full day, many people already have commitments that need to be fulfilled concurrently with their massage therapy training. Whether it is a job, caring for family, or other commitments, you may need to check a number of schools to find one that allows you the flexibility you need. Ensure that you are aware of requirements outside of the regularly scheduled class times for clinic or off-campus events. Some schools require additional evenings or weekends to complete their program. You may even want to inquire about the homework/assignment load, as it may not be realistic with all the other things you have to contend with on a daily basis.

Cost: Be practical. The price of attending a massage school and becoming a massage therapist varies widely. What can you afford on a monthly basis? Many, if not all, massage schools offer financing options to help you afford your education. Carefully evaluate the total cost of massage therapy training including what you will pay in interest for all loans needed to pay for tuition, books, and supplies.

Placement assistance: Find out if the massage school provides job placement assistance after you've passed the state licensing exam. Many employers of massage therapists are affiliated with schools. Ask about this during your interview process. Remember, you are interviewing the school as much as they are interviewing you.

Embark on a New Career in Massage Therapy

A blend of research and analysis goes into finding the right massage school when becoming a massage therapist. Not every school will work for you, your schedule, and your needs. Get to know the school, meet the teachers, and ask questions! The only way you'll know if you belong at the school is if you speak up and ask questions!
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