First, find out which boards or organizations grant massage licenses in your home state. Then, go to that organization’s website and find a list of the schools that it deems acceptable. Narrow down your choice of schools according to the cost of tuition, whether or not you want to take classes full time or part time (not every school offers both options) and according to which locations are most convenient for you.
If there’s more than one school that meets these criteria, visit all of those schools so you can get a sense of which school just feels right to you. You might also want to chat with teachers and students at these schools, and check out some online reviews if you can as well. Some schools may require an interview and/or character references, as they want to make sure that you’re someone who’s hardworking, good at following directions and listening, and that you care about people-that you’re someone who’d be able to build a rapport with clients.
Massage therapy school will involve a combination of classroom-style learning as well as actual massage practice on both mannequins and real-life human beings. The subjects you’ll study include anatomy and physiology, so that you’ll know by heart all the muscles of the human body, as well as the joints and organs. Since many people seek massage therapy as a treatment for pain, it’s crucial that you understand how all parts of the body work, both separately and in conjunction with one another. You’ll also study disease-a subject called pathology-so you can get a sense of what diseases you can help treat and what ailments are not curable at all by massage. There will also be courses in various theories of massage, the history of massage, and the latest massage techniques.
These techniques can be quite involved, too, involving the use not only of your hands and wrists but also your elbows, feet and your overall body weight as well. (Don’t worry, though, you don’t necessarily have to have a lot of body strength in order to be a good massage therapist.) You’ll even learn about nutrition.
Massage therapy schools also give their students a valuable overview of business and finance; if you are going into business for yourself, as many massage therapists do, you’ll need to know the basics of bookkeeping, accounting, finance, marketing and advertising. Massage schools offer a few lessons in ethics, too. When you’re working on a patient, that person is often vulnerable-not to mention naked in many instances-and so it’s important to understand the kinds of things you should and shouldn’t say, how to value each customer’s privacy and well-being, and how to make decisions that are in the best interests of both yourself and your clients.