Massage therapists help people by using touch to manipulate different muscles. These professionals relieve overworked muscles and treat different injuries and ailments. They can specialize in different techniques, which are known as modalities, including Swedish, neuromuscular, acupressure, sports, reflexology and deep-tissue massage therapy.

Where Massage Therapists work

There are good prospects for anyone interested in pursuing massage therapy as a career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is projected to grow by as much as 20 percent between 2010 and 2020. By 2010, massage therapists held around 153,700 jobs, 60 percent of which were in self-employment. They were also found in several healthcare industries, personal care services, fitness and recreational sports centers, traveler accommodation and offices of chiropractors. The number of jobs is projected to rise to about 184,600 by 2020.

Massage therapists can work in franchise, spa, fitness and sports or healthcare-related industries.

Many massage therapists are found in spas, and the number of spas has been increasing steadily over the past few years. Many clients prefer massage clinic franchises because they are relatively cheaper than spas. Since the franchises attract a wide variety of customers, their numbers have been increasing to accommodate the growing demand for massage therapy services.

Requirements

The increasing demand has forced states to adopt standard and licensing requirements for massage therapists. Some states insist that professionals who will be licensed must have passed recognized examinations and been certified by formal training programs.

The standards that different states set are actually good for massage therapists because they make them more respectful, which will allow more people to accept their services.

Sample Clients

Some specific groups of people receive particular benefits from massage therapy. For example, some workplaces strive to be as employee-friendly as possible and provide professional, seated massage services to their employees.

Many people take their senior family members to assisted-living facilities or nursing homes. These older people receive great benefits from massage therapy, including reduced health problems and increased energy levels. There is therefore an increasing demand for massage therapy services from such homes and facilities.

Job Prospects

Many opportunities exist for those interested in practicing massage therapy, whether they are just starting out or are seasoned professionals. Those with formal training and relevant licenses are expected to get more workflow over the coming years.

New massage therapists can work part-time in physical therapy centers, hospitals, spas and hotels as they build their client bases. They can find different alternatives to help them capture new audience. For instance, they can offer their services at care homes and different companies, which will help them get referrals and more clients.

In addition, networking plays a central role in increasing job opportunities because many clients rely on referrals. According to the Careers in Health Web site, massage therapists will build strong contacts that lead to steady work by joining professional associations.

It is also a good idea to specialize in several modalities to widen the client base. This is important considering that the physical conditions and needs of clients determine the types of massage applied. For example, athletes need different techniques than the elderly clients. Therapists must also understand the types of techniques applied to particular types of clients. For example, only expectant mothers are given prenatal massage.

This piece was composed by Stan Millersby, a freelancer who focuses on education, career training, professional development and other related areas. Those looking to go into massage therapy may want to spend time with professionals to get a better sense of the requirements and environment; contact a massage therapist specialist to learn more.