A role ideal for those with an enthusiasm for alternative therapies who enjoy working practically and in close proximity with other people, a massage therapist uses their fingers, hands and elbows to manipulate the body’s soft tissue and enable deeper and more sustained relaxation. An ancient yet only relatively recently fully commercialised professional field, the masseuse profession is as complex and intricate as most other physiology-based vocations.
Details of the Role
It would be very easy indeed to dismiss the work of the modern massage therapist if you didn’t understand it. Far more than simply enacting temporary relief on the muscular aches and pains of another, there is a very fine science behind it. Just some of the benefits of a properly conducted massage include:
- Improved muscle and skin tone
- Relief from muscle tension pains (headaches, for example)
- Increased resilience against toxins
- Better blood circulation
More-so than delivering physical relief however, the massage therapist must also prove themselves as being able to tap into the emotional side of things. It’s extremely common for a client to be undergoing emotional healing alongside physical healing- and therefore require a therapists consideration towards both aspects of their wellbeing in order to be successful in their mission to sooth and heal.
Typically, a massage therapist will select a preferred area of specialisation during their time as a trainee- though more times than not they will cover all of the others to an extent as well. Popular areas include:
- Indian head massage (the use of oils and unique techniques which focus on the relaxation of the neck, shoulders, head and face)
- Sports massage (for the treatment of sports injuries – sprains, broken limbs, ruptured ligaments)
- Baby massage (helping to bond babies with their parents)
- Whole body massage (also known as ‘Swedish massage’ – it focuses on the entire body, in particular the limbs and the back)
Generally speaking, massage therapists are self-employed professionals who are responsible for a) sourcing their own clients, and b) setting their own rates. As a result of this, pinning down exact figures for the amount a therapist may expect to earn per annum can be rather tricky.
Charging at an hourly or sessional rate, prices tend to start at £20 and can run as high as £60. As a therapists gains more experience and builds their repertoire of available therapies, earnings can rise drastically. There is no reason a successful self-employed therapist couldn’t earn upwards of £40,000 per year.
Given that massage therapists work in such close proximity with their clients, it takes a certain type of person to succeed in this role. Character traits likely to enable progression in this area include:
- The self-confidence and professional confidence to work almost intimately with clients
- A smart appearance and close attention to personal hygiene
- The ability to develop an empathy with clients
- Manual dexterity
- A good business sense
- The ability to keep accurate client records
- Physical stamina necessary for providing a number of varying treatments in a single working day
- Excellent communication skills
Becoming a Massage Therapist
Gaining work as a legitimate massage therapist is relatively straight-forward providing that, as an individual- you fit the bill. Professional bodies (for example- the General Council for Massage Therapy) suggest completion of an immersive course of at least six months (full time) or one year (part time) before entering the industry as a ‘qualified’ masseuse. Anything shorter is generally considered as little more than an introduction to the field and unsuited to those wishing to make it a fulltime career.
The lone-wolf nature of this profession means that there is an unfortunate absence of a structured scale of progression. Largely a self-employed bunch, the trajectory of the modern day masseuse’s career is usually dependent on their own drive and ambition. As always, membership to one or more relevant professional bodies is a move which comes highly recommended. Such bodies include:
- The Federation of Holistic Therapists
- The Massage Training Institute
- The Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine
- The General Council for Massage Therapy (GCMT)
Success met as a massage therapist will, 99% of the time, be dependent on the knowledge, skill and subsequent reputation of the individual in a professional capacity. The harder you work to master your field and practice will ultimately manifest itself as professional gain in the long term.