Wondering how to become a massage therapist? Follow our simple guide

Thinking of becoming a massage therapist? Our guide takes you through the important things to think about before you start your new career.

What does a massage therapist do?

Massage therapists manipulate the muscles and soft tissues of the body to help alleviate tension, aches and pains. If you decide this is the career path for you, clients may be coming to you for a number of reasons.

Some may just need help to relax. Others could need rehabilitation following a sports injury, or help to manage a long-term health condition. Feeling that you’re helping people in your profession is one of the great benefits of starting a massage therapy business.

Read on for more reasons to make the career move.

Top reasons to become a massage therapist

1. Flexible work

If you’re setting up as self-employed, you get to set your hours of business and fit work around your other commitments, whether that’s family, another job, or writing your memoirs.

2. Working from home

You’ll also be in charge of where you work, if you decide to work for yourself. If you’re not working as an employee of a clinic or a gym, be sure to think about what sort of space will appeal to your customers. It’ll need to be welcoming, clean, warm, quiet and clutter-free.

3. Helping people

The benefits of massage therapy can be far reaching. Just one treatment can help to relieve muscle tension and pain, while more regular treatments over a longer period may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as other mental health conditions.

4. Physical activity

Massage therapy can be a great career choice for those who like to keep active. It’s worth thinking about whether you’re happy to work in what can be a physically challenging job – especially if you choose to offer sports massage or deep tissue massage.

5. Meeting different people

Working with the public can have its pitfalls, but it can also be a great way to meet a wide range of people you may not otherwise have met. You might even find people working in other complementary therapies to skill swap with.

Skills and qualities of a massage therapist

You’ll need to be a good listener to make sure you’re meeting your client’s needs and treating them for what they came to see you about. It’s also important for all types of complementary therapist (not just massage therapists) to be able to set boundaries.

This can be key to keeping your appointments running on time, as some clients may want to stay and chat like you’re close friends. Striking the perfect balance between warm yet professional is important.

If you’re working as a self-employed massage therapist, you have to be organised with your business admin, including:

Different types of massage therapy

There’s a wide range of possible specialisms for massage therapists, and many offer more than one. It may be best to start with a good general massage qualification (more on this below) before branching out into different areas as you gain experience.

Massage specialisms include:

  • aromatherapy massage
  • baby massage
  • deep tissue massage
  • hot stone massage
  • Indian head massage
  • pregnancy and post-natal massage
  • sports massage
  • Swedish
  • shiatsu
  • Thai massage

Massage therapist qualifications

You don’t need a degree to become a massage therapist – in fact, there are no set massage therapist training requirements.

But if you’re just establishing yourself, and you need to build your client base, having a qualification they can trust will give them confidence that they’re in safe hands. It may even be the deciding factor when they’re choosing which massage therapist to book with.

Massage therapy courses

To become a massage therapist you’ll usually need to complete a qualification lasting around six months, depending on how frequently you attend classes. Types of massage therapy certification include the ITEC (Level 3 RQF) Diploma in a range of different massage styles, which you can see above.

You could then build on your training as you gain more experience, through CPD and more advanced training courses, like the BTEC level 6 Professional Diploma, which is claimed to be a degree-level program.

You could also aim for a degree at a UK university. Cardiff Metropolitan University, for example, offers a BSc (Hons) degree in Sport Conditioning, Rehabilitation and Massage.

Massage therapist apprenticeships also become available sometimes. If this is an avenue you’d like to consider, you can register your details and find an apprenticeship via the government website.

You can also study massage therapy online. However, you may want to consider how potential clients could view a qualification that’s not gained with a qualified trainer in person.

UK massage therapy accreditation bodies

Massage therapists may be accredited by the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT), or the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Registering as an accredited therapist gives your clients added reassurance that they’re in safe hands.

Do you have any questions or tips about becoming a massage therapist that we haven’t covered above? Let us know in the comments below.

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