Becoming a Massage Therapist: 10 Easy Steps


As an industry, the massage therapy field is expected to grow by at least 26 percent in the next 10 years. This makes sense as a lot more people are interested in working in the health and wellness industry.

Massage therapists contribute to a person’s health and wellness by working on their client’s body tissues through intentional touch. If you think you would like to go into massage therapy, this article will outline the 10 steps needed to gain licensure, start your business, and keep your business going.

Becoming a Massage Therapist

1. Getting Certified

You will need to gain certification as a massage therapist in order to work in the field. The certification will need to come from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. While certification is required in most states, the field of massage therapy is not regulated in the following U.S. states:

  • Alaska
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • Oklahoma
  • Wyoming

2. Getting Your Business License

Whether or not you need a license for your business will depend on the state in which you reside. Some of the places where you can get more information on business licenses include the following places:

  • City hall
  • County clerk
  • Your state’s regulatory agency for massage therapy

3. Getting Liability Insurance

As a massage therapist, you will need to get liability insurance. The need to protect yourself against possible lawsuits from your clients is crucial. If you ever get sued by a client, with liability insurance you’ll be able to afford to deal with the case.

4. Getting a Location for Your Business

Next, you will have to decide whether you will seek out office space or operate your business out of your home. If you work from home, the benefits include the money you’ll save on office rent and other costs. The downsides include setting up space for your business, especially if you live in a small dwelling. If you work out of an office, you’ll have a lot more costs. However, you’ll have more options such as hiring additional staff and creating a professional space separate from your home.

5. Getting a Name for Your Business

Deciding on a name for your business can be as simple as using your name (ex. “Jane Smith Massage” or “Massage by Jane”) or you could try to be a bit more clever or memorable. Whichever naming path you choose, make sure you do a copyright search or a simple search on Google to ensure that your chosen business name isn’t taken.

6. Getting Startup Funds

Perhaps you have saved money for a few years in order to get your business off the ground. This path is recommended as you won’t have to go into debt before you see your first client. But if saving money isn’t an option, you can apply for business loans from lenders in your local area as well as online lenders.

7. Getting a Website

Very few business owners today would try to do their work without a website. If you can’t afford a web designer, website builders such as Squarespace and Wix allow you to build your website without knowing any computer code.

8. Getting Referrals

You’ll probably find that most of your clients will come from referrals. If you’re good at what you do, your clients will want to tell everyone about you. Find a way to reward clients who refer you to their friends. Try offering discounts or even one free massage after a client refers a certain amount of new business to you.

9. Getting a Membership to Relevant Associations

Massage therapy associations allow you to meet other peers in your profession. Associations are a great opportunity to network with like-minded people, get business advice, and learn from the experts in your field.

10. Getting (and Keeping) Clients

Never stop marketing. In the first few years of business, continuous marketing can ensure that business will be brisk most of the time. Even if you don’t think you can take on another client, remember that getting to that point is a good thing. You can always hire new staff to take on the overflow.


1. What should I do to become a qualified massage therapist?

To become a qualified massage therapist, you will need to complete a diploma or an approved massage therapy program, obtain a massage therapy license, and/or become a certified massage therapist.

2. What is the scope of massage therapy?

Massage therapy includes working with clients to help them manage pain and stress, improve range of motion and posture, reduce muscle tension, and improve overall physical and mental well-being through relaxation and bodywork.

3. What kind of training and education do I need to become a massage therapist?

To become a massage therapist, you will need to complete a massage therapy program or diploma. These programs typically include anatomy, physiology, massage techniques, and practice hours.

4. How do I get certified as a massage therapist?

To get certified as a massage therapist, you will need to take written and practical exams sanctioned by a massage therapy certification board. These exams usually consist of topics related to anatomy and massage techniques.

5. What kind of massage techniques should I learn to be a massage therapist?

Common massage techniques you will need to learn as a massage therapist include Swedish, Deep Tissue, and Sports massage. Additional techniques such as trigger point therapy, acupressure, lymphatic drainage, and reflexology may also be offered.

6. What is the job outlook for massage therapists?

The job outlook for massage therapists is expected to grow 23% by 2028, which is much faster than the average job growth. This is driven in part by the increasing demand for alternative forms of health care.

7. How much do massage therapists make?

The median salary for a massage therapist is $39,410 per year in the United States. Depending on experience, certification, and the type of practice, some massage therapists can also make much more.

8. What is the best way to find clients for massage therapy?

The best way to find new clients for massage therapy is through referrals. Word of mouth recommendations from existing clients, building a website and presence on social media, are great ways to attract more clients.

9. What do I need to know to practice massage safely and ethically?

To practice massage safely and ethically, you will need to practice proper sanitation procedures, maintain client confidentiality, be aware of contraindications, and maintain current first aid/CPR certification.

10. What do I need to understand to maintain a successful massage therapy practice?

To maintain a successful massage therapy practice, you will need to have a good understanding of business planning, marketing and promotion, professional ethics, financial management, and communication.

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