The demand for massage therapists is high and a big part of that has to do with the profession’s growing role in healthcare. Clinical massage therapists use massage techniques to help heal injuries, alleviate pain, and improve muscle function.
I’ve experienced the exciting transformation of the massage therapy profession firsthand, both as a practicing massage therapist and as a massage therapy instructor and program director.
Below, I’ll describe five advantages to being a clinical massage therapist.
1. Become a healthcare professional within a shorter amount of time
If you’re interested in a healthcare career but are concerned about the time and expense it can take, massage therapy could be a great option for you.
Depending on the program you choose, it’s possible for you to obtain a certificate in therapeutic massage in a year or so. This can prepare you to work in healthcare settings such as hospitals, chiropractic offices, and integrative healthcare clinics, as well as your own massage therapy practice.
And with approximately another three to eight months of education, you can obtain an associate degree. This can open up additional opportunities for further education and professional advancement. (For more info, check out how to become a massage therapist.)
2. Choose a profession with a bright future
Although there are no guarantees when it comes to obtaining employment, you should know the current — and expected — demand for massage therapists is extremely high.
In fact, in my 18 years of experience, I can’t recall a more promising time to enter the massage therapy job market.
A great indicator of this is the Bureau of Labor Statistics job outlook from 2020 to 2030, which projects a 32% job growth rate. To help put that in perspective, that’s nearly four times the average growth rate for all jobs.
3. Enjoy a low-stress career helping improve people’s health
Clinical massage therapists do more than help people feel more relaxed. They can play a pivotal role in relieving certain types of pain, helping people rehabilitate from injuries and surgeries, and optimizing muscle functioning.
Having a career helping improve people’s health in ways like these can be incredibly rewarding.
Also, keep in mind that some healthcare settings can be hectic and stressful. But the good news here is that clinical massage therapists typically work in low-stress settings.
They also can enjoy the satisfaction of establishing a deeper connection with patients. Rather than move patients quickly through appointments, clinical massage therapists provide direct care through touch, sometimes for an hour or more.
4. Have the freedom to create your own career path
Compared to many other healthcare professions, clinical massage therapists have more freedom to create their own career path.
For example, opening your own massage therapy practice is a viable — and popular — option for massage therapists, which makes it easier to shape your own schedule.
But if having your own massage practice isn’t for you, that’s not a problem. Clinical massage therapists can find employment in a wide range of settings. Here are some examples:
Integrative care clinics
Primary care clinics
Sports and rehabilitation clinics
Public and private hospitals
VA medical centers
Sports team facilities
Clinical massage therapists can also specialize in working with specific types of patients. Veterans, children, seniors, athletes, expectant mothers, cancer patients, hospice patients — these are just some of the many possibilities.
5. Be on the front lines of exciting changes in healthcare
As a clinical massage therapist, you can become part of an exciting new era in healthcare. I’m talking specifically about integrative healthcare, a patient-centered, team-based approach involving practitioners from various fields working together to help patients.
Increasingly, clinical massage therapists are part of a healthcare team — in some cases working alongside — healthcare professionals like chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists, medical doctors, nurses, and more.
In the process, clinical massage therapists are also helping to meet the growing demand for drug-free, noninvasive alternatives to pain medications such as opioids.
Take the next step and start exploring programs
You’ve just gotten a glimpse of a growing healthcare profession in high demand, one where you can become a professional in a shorter amount of time, shape your own career more easily, and enjoy a low-stress environment helping others become healthier.
Could becoming a clinical massage therapist be right for you? To learn more, start researching massage therapy programs today.
Spring Saldana is board-certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork, the highest credential within the massage and bodywork profession. She is also the Program Chair of the Massage Therapy Programs at Northwestern Health Sciences University.