Massage Therapy Schools in California

Are you unhappy with your current job and interested in starting a new career? If you enjoy working with people in a hands-on environment, a career as a massage therapist might be for you!

The first step involves enrolling in a reputable massage therapy school where you can learn from experienced industry experts. If you’re already out west, keep reading. Below, we’ve put together an original list of massage therapy schools in California.

15 Hands-On Massage Therapy Schools in California

massage school

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for massage therapists is expected to grow by 32 percent over the next ten years, a figure that far exceeds those predicted for other professions.

Learn more about programs available in your area to become part of this exciting new wave. As per the standards set by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), these programs offer a minimum of 500 in-class hours to ensure the highest quality massage therapy education.

Massage Schools in Southern California

ICOHS College

Estimated Cost: $10,000

Program Length: 9 months

ICOHS College is located in San Diego and is home to several exciting certificate programs, including Professional Massage Therapy and Holistic Health practitioner Programs. Students can choose between morning and afternoon classes to receive our in-person training without compromising on other responsibilities.

Make an impact in people’s lives by addressing both body and soul through the manipulation of muscles. Request more information about the Professional Massage Therapy program at ICOHS College.

We provide instruction on both Eastern and Western modalities, deep tissue, basic Swedish massage techniques, and special populations. Students will be introduced to hot stone massage therapy, aromatherapy and essential oils, and advanced massage therapy and orthopedic applications.

Upon completion of the program, students will also have received instruction on how to start their own massage therapy business, complete with a working business plan. We maintain an average student-teacher ratio of ten to one, ensuring all students receive the attention, instruction, and care they deserve.

National Holistic Institute

Estimated Cost: $15,000

Program Length: 8-12 months

The National Holistic Institute (NHI) is also a popular choice for aspiring massage therapists, with locations throughout California. The organization offers comprehensive massage training and an advanced neuromuscular massage therapy program. 

Once enrolled, students receive hands-on instruction supervised by a certified massage therapist. Training revolves around core topics, including deep tissue massage, Swedish massage therapy, Shiatsu, sports massage, and myofascial therapy.

Students will have the opportunity to practice both eastern and western modalities through the NHI student massage clinic. Practical business training will also be provided.

Downey Adult School

Estimated Cost: $4,000

Program Length: 6-8 months

The Downey Adult School, once known as the DAS Career and Education Center, has been in operation for more than 70 years. Downey’s classroom instruction puts students through over 600 hours of massage therapy training. Subjects include pregnancy massage, infant and elderly massage, and advanced circulatory massage.

Students will leave prepared for work in chiropractic offices, spas, hospitals, physical or sports therapy offices, health and wellness clinics, cruise ships, and self-employed private practices.

University of Antelope Valley

Estimated Cost: Unavailable

Program Length: 9-10 months

Situated just an hour north of Los Angeles in Lancaster, CA, you’ll find the University of Antelope Valley. The school offers certificates in massage therapy, which instructs students on a variety of massage therapy techniques including Swedish and Deep Tissue.

Additional courses consist of the basics of bodywork, professionalism, legal issues, and medical terminology. They also teach Introduction to Bodywork and Spa Modalities, which include facial treatments and aromatherapy.

After students successfully complete the course, they will be ready to work in various environments, including in salons, medical offices, spas, and alongside chiropractors. They will also receive professional development training to eventually open up their own practice.

North-West College Riverside

Estimated Cost: Unavailable

Program Length: Unavailable

North-West College has locations across southern California in West Covina, Pomona Valley, Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Riverside. The massage therapy program, which has been approved by the California Massage Therapy Council, or the CAMTC, takes around nine or ten months to complete.

In addition to helping heal injuries and decreasing stress among clients, students will learn to book clients and schedule appointments, evaluate clients and isolate problem areas, provide clients with guidance on stretching, strengthening, and overall relaxation, record client notes, and manipulate soft tissues throughout the body.

After receiving their certification and completing a clinical internship, students can work as massage therapists in spas, franchised clinics, physicians’ offices, hotels, clients’ homes, and fitness centers.

American Institute of Massage Therapy

Estimated Cost: $9,765

Program Length: 8-12 months

The American Institute of Massage Therapy is located in Santa Ana, California.  The school offers both a Massage Therapist program and a Massage Therapist/Sports Massage Therapist program.

The Massage Therapist program largely revolves around massage therapy fundamentals, musculoskeletal systems, basic massage, business law and ethics, individual muscles, sports massage, hydrotherapy, systems of the body and advanced and complementary techniques, clinical practicum at athletic events.

Meanwhile, the Massage Therapist/Sports Massage Therapist has a heavier emphasis on sports massage, clinical pathologies, specialty massage techniques, Asian bodywork methods, aromatherapy, and reflexology.

The American Institute of Massage therapy is approved by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA).

Santa Barbara Body Therapy Institute

Estimated Cost: Unavailable

Program Length: 4-12 months

The Santa Barbara Body Therapy Institute (SBBTI) has been offering training for prospective California massage therapists since 1984. Their massage therapy programs are best suited for working individuals who can’t commit to a full-time school schedule.

The program can be completed in anywhere from four to 12 months. The only requirement to enroll is a high school diploma. The school also offers financial assistance to those who qualify and veterans interested in receiving assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Northern California Massage Therapy Schools

experienced massage professionals

Skyline College

Estimated Cost: $8,500

Program Length: One year

The massage therapy program from Skyline College places a heavy emphasis on wellness and holistic health. It is a 600-hour full-time evening program that can be completed in two semesters. We will note that the school has reported low graduation rates in the past, suggesting that the curriculum is not for all students.

Graduates will walk away from the program proficient in various massage therapy techniques, including Swedish (relaxing/wellness), deep tissue, trigger point, myofascial release, neuromuscular therapy, PNF/MET, energy healing techniques, Ayurveda, Asian bodywork traditions, and integrative health modalities.

Experts believe that professional licensing helps enhance public safety standards and ensures worker competency across the field. Today, over 40 states issue massage therapy licenses.

Following the successful completion of their massage therapy training program, students can go on to pursue advanced certificates for holistic, complementary, alternative, or integrative medicine in various therapies.

Carrington College

Estimated Cost: $16,000

Program Length: 9 months

Carrington College offers a nine-month certificate curriculum at seven different locations across California, making it one of the most accessible massage therapy schools in the state. Earning an associate of science degree in health studies entails an additional 42 weeks of general education studies.

Students at Carrington can expect to learn Swedish massage, sports massage, deep-tissue applications, Shiatsu, and chair massage therapy. Students also attend a career-development seminar and complete an externship.

San Francisco School of Massage and Bodywork

Estimated Cost: $9,330

Program Length: 6-8 months

The San Francisco School of Massage and Bodywork provides a 600-hour massage therapy program. It’s one of the few massage therapy schools in California to provide a hybrid learning, though the majority of coursework is performed in a classroom setting.

Not only does the program qualify you for certification through the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), but it also provides you with the core hours needed to become nationally certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Subjects covered include Swedish massage, body mechanics, massage theory, deep tissue massage, neuromuscular techniques, lymphatic massage, trigger point therapy, business and ethics, and body mechanics.

Diamond Light School of Massage and Healing Arts

Estimated Cost: $1,985

Program Length: 6 months

Diamond Light Massage Therapy School is often celebrated for fusing a grounded, professional certification training in Massage Therapy with a heart-centered, spiritual approach to healing.

Diamond Light offers four different state-approved massage therapy programs, including a Professional Bodywork Therapist Certification Course, an Advanced Bodywork Therapy Training, a Massage Therapy Course, and an Energetic Healing Certification. Individual courses and workshops are also available.

Students will be introduced to subjects including massage essentials, anatomy, body mechanics, energy principles, prenatal and meditation, and energetic healing. Instructors maintain decades of experience in the massage therapy field.

Bodhi Panya Institute

Estimated Cost: $7,750

Program Length: 5.5-8 months

The Bodhi Panya Institute offers a 500-hour Traditional Thai Massage Program. Upon graduation, students will be certified massage therapists within the state of California.

The program focuses on Thai massage, though students will also study Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and other western-style massage techniques. 

Curious about industry requirements outside of California? Learn how to become a licensed massage therapist in [currentyear].

Courses are offered part-time two days a week, three days a week, or four days a week. The full-time schedule is five days a week. Students must have a high school diploma to enroll.


massage therapy schools in California

Opportunities for massage therapists are exploding throughout California, and there is now an abundance of institutions investing in the field. If you are unsure where to start, look into the massage therapy programs offered at ICOHS College.

Our Professional Massage Therapist diploma 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. 

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 become a California massage therapist?

California massage therapists must complete a minimum of 500 hours of education with 100 of those 500 hours meeting core curriculum requirements (a minimum of 100 hours in anatomy, physiology, contraindications, health and hygiene, and business and ethics) to receive certification from the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC).

How much is a massage license in California?

The state of California does not currently require massage therapists to become licensed, though many municipalities require practitioners to become certified through the California Massage Therapy Council. Residents of California can apply for their massage therapy certification online. Applications must be completed by individuals 18 years or older along with a $200 fee, criminal background check, official transcripts from your massage school, and copies of your state-issued identification.

Do massage therapists have to be licensed in California?

The State of California does not require you to be certified by the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC). However, some areas require certification from the organization to receive compensation. We recommend checking with your local municipality to ensure you are operating legally.

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