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How Long Does it Take To Become a Massage Therapist?

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How long does it take to become a massage therapist? The answer depends on where you live, what program you enroll in, and whether or not you want to provide specialty services. Read on below for a step-to-step guide to becoming a massage therapist, from education requirements to lab experience and more.


What is Massage Therapy?

how long does it take to become a massage therapist

Massage therapy manipulates soft tissues on the body to release tension and relieve muscular pain. 

Licensed massage therapists can select from a variety of techniques to specialize in. It’s not a modern method, either. The holistic practice dates as far back as 3000 BC. It’s important to do your homework to get familiar with all the opportunities available. 

Popular specialties include sports massage, shiatsu massage, Swedish massage, Thai massage, Hot stone massage, acupuncture, parental massage, prenatal massage, and medical-massage therapy.

Today, the practice is considered an integrative part of healing and restorative treatment.

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According to the National Holistic Institute, more than 40% of U.S. citizens seek massage therapy for pain relief, injury rehabilitation, and migraine control. More than 50 million adults have discussed the practice with their doctors in the past few years.

3 Steps to Becoming a Massage Therapist

1. Get Your Education

To become a massage therapist, you must complete a certification or degree program. There, you’ll take courses on body mechanics, massage ethics, physiology, and anatomy. Educational requirements can typically be completed within a year, allowing graduates to enter the workspace in a much shorter time frame than in other fields.

Today, there are over 245 massage therapy institutions within the United States. Before enrolling, it is essential to consider location, graduation rate, tuition fees, and how many people found work in the field after completing the program.

Understanding the Costs

As far as costs go, massage therapy schools are a lot more affordable than your standard university. Though, tuition will vary depending on the length of the program and where it’s located. The average cost starts at around $5,000 and can reach up to $25,000.

The shorter the program, the less it will cost. Programs range from 300 to 1,000 hours of in-class instruction and practical training. That said, there are additional costs to take into consideration. Some schools provide students with a massage table to help them practice. Others require them to purchase one on their own. The average price for this equipment hovers around $500.

Online vs. On-Campus Options

As of now, no massage therapy training program offers online learning exclusively. While some may claim to be 100% remote, recognized institutions always require some hands-on component so that their students can gain necessary practical experience. 

The online component of these programs focuses on general education courses like human anatomy and nutrition.

Program Length

The duration of programs depends on the type of massage school you plan to enroll in and how many specialties it covers. Some programs can be completed in as little as five months, while others may last upwards of two years, though most programs require a minimum of 500 credit hours to apply for a professional license. 

The nationally accredited professional massage therapy program at ICOHS College takes approximately nine months to complete and is based on a total of 630 clock hours.

2. Obtain A License or Certification

massage therapy program

In most states, a massage therapist requires a license to practice. To obtain this credential, they must pass either the MBLEx or the BCETMB exam. There are only a few states, including Kansas, Vermont, and Wyoming, where individuals can skip this step and immediately begin practicing massage therapy.

In areas where it is required, licensure allows individuals to open up their own massage business and work independently.

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Costs largely depend on the program you attend and where you plan on becoming licensed or certified. Graduates of ICOHS College are qualified to sit for the licensing exam from the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), which comes with a $200 application. We support all graduates in obtaining licensure, including reimbursing them for this fee.

3. Begin Your Work Experience

As a licensed massage therapist, you can begin your experience across various environments, including spas, including rehabilitation facilities, clinics, hotels, and wellness centers. According to the AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association), massage therapists work in two different environments, on average.

Unlike most other professions, massage therapists are able to structure their schedules with a great amount of flexibility. Typically, massage therapists work about 25 hours per week. That’s about eight or nine hours per day or around five massages. Late nights and weekends provide additional work hours for individuals who may have other responsibilities to tend to during the standard workday.

How Long Does it Take to Achieve Success in the Field?

To see your practice take off, you’ll first need to obtain a license or certification. Starting your own massage therapy business takes around 300 hours to 1000 hours of training, on average.

From there, you’ll need to start building up a loyal client base. Networking with local organizations, staying on top of current trends, and advertising your services can help attract new massage clients quickly.

You can also gain additional credentials from your massage school to help distinguish yourself from the competition. Do some research about what massage techniques are most popular in your area, and act accordingly.


treatment goals & massage therapy

The massage therapy field is ballooning, with 23,300 new jobs opening up each year over the next decade. 

Start your journey towards a successful career at ICOHS College. Our Professional Massage Therapist certificate program is a California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) approved school as recognized by the state of California. Program courses include the following subjects:

  • Fundamentals of Massage
  • Kinesiology and Client Assessment
  • Anatomy and Deep Tissue
  • Eastern Modalities
  • Western Modalities
  • Body Systems, Pathology, and Special Populations
  • Career Development

Students will receive bodywork techniques and therapeutic massage methods designed to relieve pain and improve the overall health and wellness of their clients. They’ll also undergo classroom experiences to learn all necessary medical terminology and prepare for the state licensing exam. Financial aid options apply to those who qualify. 

After leaving our programs, students can find promising career opportunities at massage therapy clinics, spas and resorts, cruise ships, holistic health centers, and more. Students may also open up their own businesses or work as independent contractors. 


How long does it take to train to be a masseuse?

Massage therapy school can take anywhere from a couple of months to a year and a half to complete, depending on the program you select. You should also factor in the time it takes to obtain a license and certification as well.

Can you make good money as a massage therapist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), massage therapists earn a median annual income of $43,620, with the top ten percent of earners making more than $79,000 per year.

Is it worth becoming a massage therapist?

Most massage therapists remain incredibly satisfied with their careers. If you are passionate about health and healing, then you may be a good fit for the industry. Massage therapists are also hugely in demand. In addition, they enjoy good earning potential and are able to make a measurable impact in the lives of their others.

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