The Truth About a Career in Massage Therapy
A career in massage therapy can be a very rewarding experience. It can also be a frustrating and disappointing experience. Though it feels great to work hard and pass the national exam, the hardest part actually comes after getting your license.
Top Reasons People Think Massage Therapy Will Make a Great Career
1. It will be easy to find a job or work for yourself after you graduate.
After you graduate, you have dreams and expectations about what it will be like to start your new career. You expect to have no trouble finding a job or working for yourself. It seems like there are thousands of people that want or need your services. You can choose to work in a salon, spa, medical clinic, massage clinic, or home office. The choices seem endless.
2. You will have your choice of workplace.
You dream of things like helping people get past their chronic pain in a medical setting, helping people relax in a spa, or maybe working in a clinic that specializes in massage. There are so many places out there that you should have no trouble finding the perfect position where you can use your skills and all of your training.
3. You will make a lot of money.
The pay is one thing that you are definitely looking forward to seeing. At $60-$80 an hour, you should be on easy street. Once you get started, you will able to make more money than you know how to spend. You start dreaming of what you are going to do with all of that money.
4. You get to help people for a living.
However, money is not the only thing that interests you. You are also excited about the chance to help people. There is so much that you can accomplish with your skills and training and you can't wait to get started.
The Hard Realities of a Career in Massage Therapy
1. It is difficult and expensive to run your own business.
In theory, it seems like a great idea to have your own business and keep all of the profit for yourself but the truth is that your profits will go towards rent, utilities, equipment, supplies, advertising, insurance, and more.
You will need a solid, repeat client base to be able to pay for all of the expenses that you will acquire when you own your own business. This takes time to build up, sometimes even years. It is a good goal to have for the future but it may be unrealistic when you are first starting out.
2. Working in a salon or spa is not always what you think it will be.
A salon or spa could be a great place to work. You will already have a client base and new treatments you can learn. If you are interested in learning body treatments, a spa could be the best place for you to work.
However, there are always drawbacks to any position. The contract is sometimes a drawback. Before accepting a position that requires you sign a contract, have a lawyer look it over and make sure that you understand what you are signing. If you are not completely satisfied with the contract, do not sign it. This is your future and you need to protect yourself.
You should know the answers to these questions: What kind of work will you be expected to perform? Will you need to help with the reception desk, take care of the laundry, sweep up after the hair stylists or such? Are you expected to perform free massages for advertising? Do you receive more than 30-50% commission?
I had a negative experience with working at a salon. I was offered a position, and I accepted since it seemed like a nice place to work and the people were friendly. However, I did not like the expectations or the contract. I was expected to work six to eight hours a day and I was only paid commission. If I had no clients I was expected to basically work for free and I had to sweep up after the hair stylists and work as the shampoo girl. This would have been fine if I were getting paid an hourly wage for my work, which I wasn't. Furthermore, the contract stated that if I quit, I would need to pay them $100 for each day that I worked so I could pay for the "valuable" training I received at the shampoo bowl. Learn from my mistake: Read your contract.
A medical clinic could be a good place to hone your skills and gain valuable experience in your field. The same considerations apply to a position in a medical clinic. What is the pay, what are the expectations, and is there a contract? Those are the need-to-know questions. Also, try to talk with someone who works there or is familiar with the establishment. They can provide you with inside information that you will not receive in an interview.
3. A career in massage therapy will not make you wealthy.
A career in massage therapy will not make you wealthy. In fact, you may need to have a second job in order to make a decent living. If you are paid on commission, you are likely to be paid anywhere from 30-50 percent of the total price of the massage. If you are paid an hourly wage, it will likely be in the $10-20 an hour range. $60-80 an hour is mostly just a myth.
4. The hours of a massage therapy career can be difficult.
Massage therapy is not a 9-5 job. Your hours will depend on the hours that the client is available. Evening and Saturday hours are almost guaranteed. Furthermore, massage is not the kind of career that you work 40 hours a week. If you try to work 40 hours a week, you may burn out quickly. The physical demands of a massage career should be factored into any decision about the number of hours you would like to work.
Conclusion: This Career Takes Work
- Massage therapy is hard on the therapist both physically and psychologically.
- The hours can be difficult.
- It is not easy to find the right massage therapy job.
- The starting pay is not as good as advertised.
- You may need to have a second income.
- You may not be doing what you want to do with your training and experience.
That said, if massage therapy is really want to do with your life, you will find a way to make it work. You will work the jobs that you do not like in order to get the experience. You will go through all of the interviews.
You will learn from your mistakes and do better the next time. A massage therapy career might not be exactly what you expected it to be but it is a career which can be very fulfilling for many people.