Massage Therapy Education: Do You Need School?


Now that you’ve made the decision to become a massage therapist, you’re probably wondering what type of training you will need to obtain.  You no doubt know that you need to get some type of formal instruction.  But, you’re probably wondering if a career as a massage therapist is one that requires you to go to college.  Well, we’re here to help you navigate through the educational requirements necessary to become certified as a practitioner of massage therapy and bodywork.  Continue reading to learn about the educational requirements you’ll need to meet before you’re eligible to sit for the certification exam administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

You are not required to attend a college or a university in order to become a massage therapist.  However, you will need to receive formal training in the area of massage therapy and/or bodywork.  Even if your state does not require certification before you can become licensed to practice as a massage therapist, it will still serve you well to obtain formal instruction.  Showing that you have invested in your education and training will go a long way toward showing your commitment, building your clientele, and ultimately being able to command a nice salary.

The time required to become a massage therapist can vary.  It all depends upon your interest at the time.  Are you interested in just getting the minimum amount of training necessary to get started in the profession?  Or, do you want to obtain enough training so as to become a master of the discipline?  Another factor contributing to the amount of time you will spend getting properly trained and educated are the requirements of the state in which you will practice.  The minimums for the contact hours you need can range from 330 to 1000.  A massage therapy program can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of years.  As such, you will want to check with your respective state for specific requirements to ensure you obtain sufficient instruction.

After you have consulted with your state’s requirements for massage therapist licensure, it might be a good idea to talk with other people about the massage schools in your area.  You can get some really helpful advice from other students, past and present, as you consider which school to enroll in.  If you already have a spa or other location in mind where you would like to work, call them and ask them to recommend some massage schools to consider.  During your school selection process, make it a point to call the school.  You will be able to speak with the admissions department to get your questions answered.  Also, arrange for a chance to visit the school so you can check out the atmosphere and see how the teachers and students interact with one another.

The massage school should be able to provide you with the contact information of their graduates.  Ask for this information and use it to speak with those who have already matriculated through the program.  These students should be able to give you an honest, unbiased opinion of the school.  The school may try to sell you on the salary you can expect to earn once you graduate from their program.  Keep in mind that the school is trying to recruit students and sell them on enrolling in their program over another school’s massage therapy program.  Keep a realistic view of the massage therapy business and how long it will take you to build up your clientele and earn a lot of money.

You have learned that while college is not required to become a massage therapist, many states require certification.  As such, you will need to obtain formal instruction from a massage therapy school before you can become eligible to sit for and pass the certification exam administered by the NCBTMB.  Check out your state’s requirements for becoming a licensed massage therapist first.  Then, make sure you take your time conducting research of the many different massage schools in your state.  Speak with current massage therapists at spas and other locations in the area and ask for their advice.  Call and visit your prospective massage therapy schools so that you can get a feel for the atmosphere.  As you continue to prepare to become a massage therapist, check out some additional articles on the site.  Good luck!