What Your Teachers Don't Tell You About a Career in Massage Therapy

While attending massage school, I was surrounded by classmates that had a very idealistic view of a massage therapy career. They pictured a stress-free environment where they could charge over $65 an hour performing a relatively "easy" service. At that rate, they planned to make a good living working only a few days a week and have the rest of the time to themselves.

At this point in my career, it was no surprise to me to learn that 50,000 massage therapists leave the profession each year according to Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP). The reality is that a lot of the work required to do a good job is physically demanding, and to make a decent living can mean working 6-9 hours a day. So after several years of essentially backbreaking work and struggling to get clientele that are consistent, most therapists end up finding a secondary job to help make ends meet, or they leave the profession altogether.

I didn't end up in that category, and I don't want you to either. I have two suggestions to save you from this fate.

Number one: find an alternate way of making money that is still within in your industry and is a viable service. Meaning that it remains very similar to or builds on what you're already doing. So being an electrician was not a consideration for me considering that I still wanted to do massage. Not that it is wrong, it just doesn't fit in the health field. For example, I added personal training to my credentials and began training people at my location. This enables me to offer a service that both complements massage therapy and brings in additional clients and income as well. In addition, I notice that when one service is slow the other service fills in the gaps. You can even consider adding certifications and products to help increase cash flow, avoid  pyramid schemes. You certainly will not build trust with clients like that.

Number two: make sure you have a realistic view of the profession and the effort required before getting started. It's not an "easy" job. Be prepared to work your butt off. You must be on time, prepared, and ready to do a good massage every time you give a massage. It's the professional thing to do of course, but easier said than done. You might have only one person scheduled on a beautiful Saturday, it's not OK to reschedule that person because you want to go fishing. You cannot be late for a client three times in a row for their massage and not be prepared. I guarantee that person no matter how much they like you will give up on you.

Roman Roberts