Massage Therapy Schools in California

Table of Contents

Are you curious about the world of massage therapy in California? Look no further! California is home to a thriving massage therapy industry, with many individuals seeking out the benefits of this alternative form of medicine.

massage therapy school

Massage therapy is a sought-after profession in California, and for a good reason! With so many people living fast-paced lives, massage therapy provides a much-needed escape from the daily grind.

However, to practice massage therapy legally in California, you must be certified by the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC). CAMTC sets high standards for education, training, and ethics, meaning you can trust that certified massage therapists in California are well-equipped to provide excellent service.

Choosing the right massage therapy school is crucial if you’re interested in becoming a certified massage therapist in California. Not all schools are created equal, and selecting the right one can make all the difference in the quality of education, instructors’ expertise, and opportunities available to students.

So, what should you look for when selecting a massage therapy school in California? Accreditation, curriculum, instructors’ qualifications, and the school’s reputation are all important factors. Choose the right school, and you’ll be on your way to a fulfilling and rewarding career as a certified massage therapist in California.

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 compiled an original list of massage therapy schools in California.

What is Massage Therapy?

massage education

Massage therapy is a form of alternative medicine that involves the manipulation of the body’s soft tissues to promote relaxation, alleviate pain, and reduce stress. It is a therapeutic treatment that has been used for thousands of years to promote healing and improve overall well-being.

There are many different types of massage therapy, each with its unique approach and benefits. Here are some of the most common types of massage therapy:

  • Swedish massage – This gentle form of massage uses long strokes, kneading, and circular movements to promote relaxation and improve circulation.
  • Deep tissue massage – This type of massage therapy is more intense and focuses on relieving muscle tension and stiffness by using deep pressure on the muscles and connective tissue.
  • Sports massage – This type of massage is specifically designed for athletes. It is used to prevent and treat injuries, as well as to improve flexibility, range of motion, and overall performance.
  • Trigger point massage – This type of massage targets specific areas of muscle tension or pain, using pressure and stretching techniques to alleviate discomfort.
  • Thai massage – This traditional form of massage involves stretching and compressing the body to improve circulation, flexibility, and overall well-being.
  • Shiatsu massage – This Japanese form of massage involves applying pressure to specific points on the body to improve energy flow and promote relaxation.

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 (American Massage Therapy Association (MTA), 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 include 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 completing the course, students 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 eventually.

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. Approved by the California Massage Therapy Council, or the CAMTC, the massage therapy program 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.

After completing 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 California’s few massage therapy schools in California to provide hybrid learning, though most 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.

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

Choosing the right massage therapy school is crucial to jumpstarting a successful career in this field.

California offers numerous options, but ICOHS College stands out for several reasons. The college offers a comprehensive massage therapy program that covers the latest techniques and provides hands-on training to equip students with the necessary skills to excel in their careers. 

Additionally, we have a supportive community of faculty and staff who are committed to helping students achieve their goals. With a strong emphasis on student success, career readiness, and flexible scheduling, ICOHS College is an excellent choice for anyone looking to pursue a fulfilling career in massage therapy.

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

Our massage therapy programs equip students with the knowledge and skills to perform bodywork techniques and therapeutic massage methods that alleviate pain and enhance the overall health and wellness of our clients. In addition, our comprehensive classroom experiences ensure that students are proficient in essential medical terminology and fully prepared to take the state licensing exam. 

Upon completing our programs, graduates have a range of promising career opportunities, including positions at massage therapy clinics, spas, resorts, cruise ships, and holistic health centers. Graduates may also pursue entrepreneurship, open their own massage therapy 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.

Are there any scholarships available for massage therapy students?

Yes, there are various scholarships available for massage therapy students. Some of these scholarships are offered by massage therapy schools, while others are provided by professional associations or private organizations.

One such scholarship is the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Scholarship, which is available to students pursuing a career in massage therapy. The scholarship amount varies yearly, and applicants must enroll in an accredited massage therapy program.

Another scholarship option is the Massage Envy Scholarship Program, which provides financial assistance to students enrolled in massage therapy programs. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, be enrolled in an accredited massage therapy program, and demonstrate financial need.

In addition, many massage therapy schools have their own scholarship programs that provide financial aid to eligible students. It’s important to research and explore all available scholarship opportunities to find the ones that best suit your needs and qualifications.

What is the future of massage therapy in California?

Overall, the massage therapy profession in California has grown over the past decade, with a 14% increase in the number of massage therapists. Nearly half of them hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the profession remains an important part of the healthcare industry. It will likely continue to evolve and adapt to changing circumstances in California.

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