Career and Salary Outlook for Massage Therapists

While massage therapists earn less than other alternative care specialists as well as medical professionals, this is still considered as a well-paying job, especially in the present economic conditions.

Are you looking for a career that will allow you to make a great living? Do you want to eventually start your own practice and manage your own time? Training to become a massage therapist can help you achieve your career goals.

As a massage therapist, you will use touch to relieve pain, alleviate stress, unwind tense muscles, rehabilitate injury, and increase relaxation. There are more than 80 different types of massage treatments, called modalities, such as deep-tissue, Swedish massage, sports massage, acupuncture, reflexology, orthopedic and prenatal massage, to name a few. You can choose to specialize in one or more of these to deliver relief to your clients. You will conduct a short interview with your client to determine their physical condition and desired results, and tailor your treatments according to their specific needs. The most important qualities that successful massage therapists possess are good communication skills and decision-making skills, to help them understand their clients’ needs and determine the best treatment. Good massage therapists know how to make their clients feel at ease and provide a positive experience. Physically, this job requires physical strength and dexterity, as these professionals must be able to give several treatments in one day and stay on their feet throughout the massage sessions.

Work Environment

You can find work as a massage therapist in a variety of settings, whether private or public. These settings include private offices, spas, hospitals, fitness centers and even shopping malls. You can also expect to travel to your clients’ homes or offices to perform the massages at their convenience. Some massage therapists eventually open their own practice and provide their own massage table or chair, sheets, pillows, and massage lotions or oils.

Many massage therapists work part-time and work by appointment. This means the schedules and number of work hours vary considerably from one massage therapist to another.


According to the BLS, the median annual wage that massage therapists received in May 2010 was $34,900. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,870, while the top 10 percent earned more than $69,000. The top paying States for this occupation include Alaska, Vermont, Rhode Island, Washington and Delaware.

Meanwhile, the States with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in this occupation include Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Washington and Colorado.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the top paying industries for massage therapists are:


Hourly Mean Wage

Other ambulatory care services


Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)


Technical and trade schools


Offices of physicians


Specialty (except psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals)