massage therapy career perks

20 Pros and Cons of Being a Massage Therapist

Becoming a massage therapist can be both rewarding and challenging. On the bright side, you get to help people feel better, enjoy flexible work hours, and explore diverse career opportunities in places like spas and hospitals. However, it’s not all smooth sailing. The job can be physically demanding with constant standing and movement, and emotionally draining when dealing with difficult clients. Income may also be inconsistent due to unpredictable bookings. Nevertheless, there’s potential for growth and fulfillment in this career. If you’re curious about balancing passion with these challenges, let’s explore further.


  • Flexible work schedules provide work-life balance and adaptability.
  • Physical strain from continuous standing and movement can lead to injuries.
  • Building trust and rapport with clients enhances job satisfaction and effectiveness.
  • Inconsistent income due to unpredictable client bookings can impact financial stability.
  • Continuous education and specialization offer growth opportunities and skill enhancement.

Quick Facts: Massage Therapists

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of Massage Therapists presents both promising opportunities and unique demands. Below are key insights:

Salary Insights:

  • As of May 2022, Massage Therapists garnered a median annual wage of $49,860.
  • Their earnings, when considered hourly, averaged a robust $27.43.

Earnings Percentiles:

  • Compensation across the profession varies notably: the lowest 10% earned around $13.96 hourly or $29,040 annually.
  • Those in the 25th percentile received about $18.79 hourly or $39,080 yearly.
  • At the median level (50%), wages were approximately $23.97 per hour, or $49,860 per annum.
  • Individuals in the 75th percentile saw $32.36 per hour or $67,300 annually.
  • The top 10% commanded an impressive $43.52 per hour or $90,530 yearly.

Job Outlook:

  • Prospects for Massage Therapists are bright, with an anticipated employment jump of 18 percent from 2022 to 2032, a growth rate that significantly eclipses the average for many other professions.

Professional Requirements:

  • Aspiring practitioners generally need postsecondary education that combines theoretical instruction with hands-on experience.
  • Entry and practice standards can differ substantially by state.
  • A notable aspect of the profession is its regulated nature: most states have rules governing massage therapy and stipulate that therapists must hold a license or certification.
Pros of Being a Massage TherapistCons of Being a Massage Therapist
Attractive Earning PotentialPhysical Demands
High Demand and Job GrowthInconsistent Income
Flexible Work EnvironmentInitial Investment and Ongoing Costs
Diverse Specializations and Career PathsRegulatory Challenges
Physical Health BenefitsEmotional Labor
Emotional SatisfactionLimited Advancement
Human ConnectionNeed for Personal Marketing
Entrepreneurial OpportunitiesHandling Difficult Clients
Global OpportunitiesWork Hours Can Be Unconventional
Continual Learning and Professional DevelopmentJob Security Concerns

Pros of Being a Massage Therapist

  1. Attractive Earning Potential: The median annual wage for massage therapists as of May 2022 was $49,860, with the top 10% earning over $90,000 annually. This indicates a substantial opportunity for earning, especially for those who build a strong client base or specialize in techniques in high demand. Additionally, the mean hourly wage stands at $27.43, allowing for financial stability, particularly in areas where wellness services are highly valued.
  2. High Demand and Job Growth: The BLS projects an 18% growth rate in the employment of massage therapists from 2022 to 2032, which is significantly faster than many other professions. This growth is likely due to an increased awareness of the benefits of massage therapy for health and wellness, suggesting that new therapists will likely find ample job opportunities upon entering the field, and established professionals could enjoy greater job security.
  3. Flexible Work Environment: Massage therapists often have the flexibility to set their schedules, choose their work environments, and even decide on the number of clients they see daily. They can work in various settings such as spas, hotels, clinics, or from the comfort of their homes, which is ideal for maintaining a work-life balance, especially for those with family commitments or pursuing further education.
  4. Diverse Specializations and Career Paths: The field of massage therapy offers various specializations, such as sports massage, clinical massage, or holistic therapies, allowing professionals to focus on areas that interest them the most. By gaining expertise in specialized areas, therapists can carve unique career paths, cater to specific clientele, and enhance their professional standing in the market.
  5. Physical Health Benefits: Practicing massage therapy can also be beneficial for the therapists’ physical health. Regularly giving massages improves strength, dexterity, and stamina. It’s a profession that requires physical activity, contrary to desk jobs, potentially leading to improved physical well-being, provided that proper techniques and self-care measures are employed.
  6. Emotional Satisfaction: Massage therapists often experience high levels of job satisfaction due to the nature of their work, which revolves around providing relief and promoting wellness among clients. Seeing tangible improvements in clients’ health and well-being can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, fostering a sense of purpose in one’s career.
  7. Human Connection: The career involves one-on-one interactions with clients, often building meaningful, trust-based relationships. For individuals who thrive on human connection, this aspect of the job can be particularly satisfying. Therapists often become confidants and wellness advisors for their clients, deepening professional relationships.
  8. Entrepreneurial Opportunities: The flexibility inherent in this profession extends to business ownership. Many massage therapists go on to start their own practices, where they have full control over business decisions, client types, service charges, and more. This entrepreneurial angle can be particularly appealing for those with a business mindset.
  9. Global Opportunities: Since massage therapy incorporates practices that are recognized worldwide, it opens opportunities for practitioners to work globally. Whether working on cruise ships, at international resorts, or in foreign healthcare settings, therapists can use their certifications to explore job opportunities around the world.
  10. Continual Learning and Professional Development: The field of massage therapy is one that values and often requires ongoing education. Therapists have the opportunity to continually expand their knowledge base and skills, learn about new techniques, and stay updated on best practices, which contributes to professional growth and the ability to provide the best possible care to clients.
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Cons of Being a Massage Therapist

  1. Physical Demands: The job is physically demanding, often requiring hours of standing, bending, and applying pressure. Without proper techniques, self-care, and balance, this can lead to occupational injuries, such as repetitive strain injuries, muscle fatigue, and even burnout, potentially limiting the number of clients one can see or the therapist’s career longevity.
  2. Inconsistent Income: Despite the potential for high earnings, income can often be inconsistent, particularly for those working on an appointment basis or just starting their practice. Factors like seasonality, fluctuating client numbers, or economic downturns can impact the regularity of work and, consequently, the financial stability of practitioners.
  3. Initial Investment and Ongoing Costs: Therapists usually need to invest in their education, licensing, equipment, and possibly a workspace, which can be costly. Additionally, there are ongoing costs related to continuous education, insurance, license renewals, and business expenses (if self-employed), which need to be maintained for a successful career.
  4. Regulatory Challenges: Most states regulate massage therapy and require therapists to have a license or certification, which means practitioners need to adhere to varying standards and requirements. This can make relocating or practicing in multiple states complicated due to the different regulatory landscapes and might limit mobility for work.
  5. Emotional Labor: While the job can be emotionally rewarding, it also involves a significant amount of emotional labor. Therapists may work with clients who have chronic pain, serious illnesses, or emotional stress, which requires a strong capacity for empathy, patience, and emotional resilience, potentially leading to emotional fatigue.
  6. Limited Advancement: In traditional employment settings, there may be limited room for upward career advancement, especially compared to corporate hierarchies. Beyond becoming a senior therapist or starting one’s own practice, there aren’t extensive hierarchical promotions, which might be a drawback for some individuals seeking traditional advancement paths.
  7. Need for Personal Marketing: To build a client base, especially in private practice, therapists often need to invest time and resources into marketing their services. This can involve networking, managing a website or social media, and other promotional activities, which not all therapists might be comfortable with or skilled in.
  8. Handling Difficult Clients: Like any service-based profession, massage therapists may encounter difficult clients. These can range from those with unrealistic expectations about the outcomes of massage therapy to those who overstep professional boundaries, requiring therapists to possess strong communication skills and emotional intelligence.
  9. Work Hours Can Be Unconventional: While the job offers flexibility, the hours can often be unconventional. Therapists might need to schedule appointments during evenings and weekends to accommodate clients’ schedules. This can interfere with personal time and make maintaining a consistent work-life balance challenging.
  10. Job Security Concerns: For self-employed therapists or those working on a contract basis, there may be concerns regarding job security, especially during economic downturns or unexpected events like global pandemics. Unlike traditional employment, there’s often a lack of benefits such as health insurance, paid leave, or retirement plans, requiring therapists to make their own arrangements.

Essential Training and Education

Starting a career as a massage therapist requires completing targeted training programs that blend hands-on practice with theoretical knowledge in anatomy, physiology, and massage techniques. These programs, usually offered by alternative education institutions, take around six months to a year to complete. You won’t need a college degree, but you do need thorough career training to be successful.

The cornerstone of this training involves hands-on practice. You’ll spend countless hours perfecting your touch, learning how to apply the right amount of pressure, and mastering various massage techniques. This practical experience is complemented by a solid understanding of anatomy and physiology, essential for knowing how to treat different muscles and tissues effectively.

Passing a licensure exam, such as the MBLEx, is mandatory. Achieving a score of 630 or higher certifies that you’re ready to practice professionally. Continuous education is also a key part of this career.

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The world of massage therapy is always evolving, with new techniques and modalities emerging regularly. Keeping up-to-date ensures you can offer the best service to your clients and stay competitive in the industry.

Pros of Being a Massage Therapist

benefits of being masseuse

One of the primary advantages of being a massage therapist is the flexibility in work schedules, which allows for a better work-life balance. This career in massage therapy offers the freedom to choose your own hours, making it easier to juggle personal commitments. Whether you prefer working part-time, evenings, or weekends, the flexible work environment guarantees that you can tailor your schedule to fit your lifestyle.

Moreover, the job opportunities in this field are abundant and continuously growing. With a projected 26% increase in employment, there’s a wide array of settings where you can apply your skills. From high-end spas and resorts to wellness centers and private practices, the options are plentiful.

Working with your hands every day can be incredibly rewarding. Massage therapists often find satisfaction in helping others improve their well-being. It’s a hands-on career that combines the physically demanding nature of the job with the need for good body mechanics, ensuring both the therapist and the client benefit.

Furthermore, the potential for income growth is promising, especially in luxurious settings. This makes a career in massage therapy not only fulfilling but also financially rewarding, adding to the list of pros for this profession.

Cons of Being a Massage Therapist

While being a massage therapist has its rewards, it’s important to contemplate the challenges that come with the job.

The physical strain from standing and moving continuously can be taxing, and dealing with difficult clients can lead to emotional exhaustion.

Additionally, the unpredictable nature of client bookings often results in inconsistent income, making financial stability a concern.

Physical Strain Issues

The physical demands inherent in the profession of massage therapy can often result in a variety of injuries, including tendonitis, arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Standing for long hours, constantly using your hands, and bending over massage tables can lead to significant physical strain. Such strain can not only result in injuries but also contribute to burnout, making it important to adopt effective self-care routines.

Understanding and practicing proper body mechanics is essential to minimize physical strain. Techniques like maintaining a neutral spine position and using your body weight rather than just your hands can help reduce the risk of injury. Additionally, ergonomic practices, such as adjusting table heights and using supportive tools, are crucial.

Regular breaks are another critical component in preventing physical strain. Taking short, frequent breaks can help relieve muscle tension and reduce the likelihood of injury.

Beyond work practices, self-care is paramount. Good nutrition, adequate rest, regular exercise, and even receiving massages can help maintain physical wellness.

Emotional Drain Concerns

Managing the emotional complexities of clients can be profoundly challenging for massage therapists, often leading to a notable emotional drain. Clients frequently bring their emotional baggage, sharing their stress and personal issues during sessions.

Providing emotional support to clients can be particularly exhausting, as therapists must listen empathetically while working to alleviate physical tension. Empathizing with clients’ struggles means therapists often absorb their emotional issues, which can be emotionally draining.

The continuous exposure to others’ stress and worries can take a toll on therapists over time, making it essential to maintain strict boundaries. Without these boundaries, the risk of emotional burnout increases significantly.

Self-care practices are vital for massage therapists to manage this emotional drain effectively. Engaging in activities like meditation, exercise, and hobbies can help them recharge and maintain their well-being. Regular supervision or talking to a counselor can also offer a safe space for therapists to express their own feelings.

Unpredictable Income Patterns

Apart from emotional drain, massage therapists also face the challenge of unpredictable income patterns, which greatly impact job satisfaction. This inconsistency arises from various factors such as seasonal changes, client cancellations, and economic conditions. A survey revealed that 51% of massage therapists find these unpredictable income patterns dissatisfying. With a job dissatisfaction rating of 3.4 out of 5, it’s evident that this issue is a significant concern.

Massage therapists find that their career as a massage professional can be financially unstable. The number of clients and appointments can fluctuate, making it difficult to predict monthly earnings. It becomes even more challenging when trying to take care of financial responsibilities.

FactorImpact on IncomeCoping Strategy
Seasonal ChangesFewer clients in off-seasonDiversify client base
Client CancellationsImmediate income lossFlexible rescheduling
Economic ConditionsReduced spending on servicesInnovative marketing

Despite these hurdles, there are opportunities for massage therapists to stabilize their income. Building strong client relationships, implementing effective marketing strategies, and exploring different industries can provide a buffer against income volatility. However, dealing with difficult clients and the inherent uncertainties of the profession can still pose significant challenges.

Managing Physical Demands

managing work related physical demands

Managing the physical demands of massage therapy requires a proactive approach to self-care and ergonomics. Practicing massage therapy involves constant movement, leading to physical strain on the body. Standing for long periods and using hands extensively can result in injuries like tendonitis, arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. To mitigate these risks, proper body mechanics and ergonomics are essential. This means learning the correct ways to use your body during sessions to minimize stress on your muscles and joints.

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Incorporating self-care practices into your daily routine is vital. Regular stretching can greatly reduce the likelihood of injuries and help maintain flexibility. Preventive measures, such as taking regular breaks and rotating tasks, can also alleviate physical strain. Additionally, therapists should prioritize their physical wellness by maintaining good nutrition, getting adequate sleep, and engaging in regular exercise.

Receiving massages themselves can also be beneficial, as it helps them understand their clients’ experiences while relieving their own muscle tension.

Navigating Client Relationships

understanding and managing clients

Managing client relationships is a cornerstone of a successful massage therapy practice, where building trust and rapport is essential.

Effective communication, paired with active listening, helps in understanding and addressing each client’s unique needs.

Additionally, setting boundaries professionally ensures both the therapist’s and client’s comfort, fostering a respectful and positive environment.

Building Trust and Rapport

Establishing trust and rapport with clients is essential for a thriving massage therapy practice. To build trust, a strong client-therapist relationship must be nurtured from the very first interaction. Effective communication is a cornerstone in this process, allowing therapists to understand their clients’ needs fully.

Active listening plays a significant role here, as it helps therapists pick up on subtle cues and respond appropriately. When clients feel heard and understood, their comfort level increases. Empathy is another essential ingredient, enabling therapists to connect on a deeper emotional level, making the therapeutic experience more meaningful.

Understanding and respecting client boundaries is crucial for maintaining a positive rapport. Every client has different comfort levels, and recognizing these boundaries can prevent misunderstandings and foster a sense of safety. By consistently demonstrating respect and care, therapists can create a welcoming environment where clients feel valued and supported.

Ultimately, building trust and rapport enhances the overall therapeutic experience for both the client and the therapist. Clients are more likely to return and refer others, contributing to a thriving practice. The journey of managing client relationships, while challenging, is incredibly rewarding and essential for long-term success.

Managing Boundaries Professionally

Clear boundaries between therapists and clients are fundamental to upholding a professional and ethical massage therapy practice. Establishing these boundaries helps maintain a clear line between personal and professional interactions. Setting expectations early on regarding the therapeutic nature of the massage can prevent misunderstandings and guarantee both parties are on the same page.

Maintaining confidentiality is another cornerstone in building trust. By keeping client information private, therapists show respect and professionalism, which is essential for a strong, trusting relationship. Addressing any inappropriate behavior promptly and assertively is essential. When a therapist encounters such behavior, it’s important to handle it with a firm yet respectful approach to safeguard the integrity of the practice.

Self-care is also essential for therapists, especially when dealing with challenging interactions with clients. Taking time for oneself, seeking support from peers or supervisors, and establishing a healthy work-life balance can help manage stress and maintain a positive outlook. By doing so, therapists are better equipped to handle the emotional and physical demands of their job.

Career Growth and Opportunities

Massage therapy presents a wealth of career growth and opportunities, allowing therapists to work in diverse environments such as spas, wellness centers, and hospitals. The growing job market in the field of massage therapy means that becoming a massage therapist can lead to various career paths.

Many massage therapists work part-time, providing flexibility and balance in their professional lives. Employed as massage therapists, individuals can choose to specialize in different modalities, such as deep tissue, Swedish, or sports massage, enhancing their skills to attract specific clientele.

Specialization options are abundant and can cater to specific client needs, such as prenatal, geriatric, or oncology massage. This diversity allows therapists to find a niche that aligns with their passion and expertise. Continuous learning through licensing requirements and continuing education ensures that therapists stay updated with the latest techniques and advancements in the field.

The possibilities for career paths are endless. Therapists can work in luxury resorts, open a private practice, or even teach future therapists. This variety keeps the profession dynamic and engaging.

Whether you’re just starting or looking to expand, the field of massage therapy offers exciting opportunities for growth and development.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Downsides of Being a Massage Therapist?

The downsides of being a massage therapist include physical strain from extensive use of hands and long hours, emotional stress from challenging clients, rigorous licensing requirements, inconsistent income, and irregular schedules that affect work-life balance.

Is It Hard on Your Body to Be a Massage Therapist?

Yes, being a massage therapist can be physically demanding, with risks of injuries like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. However, proper body mechanics, ergonomics, regular breaks, and self-care practices can mitigate these physical challenges.

Why Did I Quit Being a Massage Therapist?

I quit being a massage therapist due to the physical toll on my body, inconsistent income, and the challenges of dealing with demanding clients. The stress and physical strain ultimately led me to pursue a different career path.

Is a Career in Massage Therapy Right for Me?

Determining whether a career in massage therapy is suitable for you requires evaluating your passion for healthcare, readiness for education and licensing, physical stamina, adaptability to client needs, and commitment to continuous learning and marketing efforts.


Becoming a massage therapist presents both rewarding and challenging aspects. The profession offers opportunities to help others, flexible work hours, and potential for personal growth.

However, it also involves physical strain, managing diverse client relationships, and maneuvering in a competitive field. Essential training and education lay the foundation for success, while ongoing learning and adaptability guarantee longevity in the career.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue massage therapy hinges on weighing these pros and cons carefully.


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