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What does a
Massage Therapist do?

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Other common names for this position: Bodywork Therapist, Certified Massage Therapist, Clinical Massage Therapist, Deep Tissue Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist, Masseur, Masseuse, Massotherapist, Medical Massage Therapist, Rolfer, Swedish Masseuse, Therapeutic Massage Technician


Massaging is a type of therapy used to treat chronic pains and physical stress. It has been known and used since ancient times and there are many forms, variations, and styles of massaging, although they all come down to the act of rubbing the patient’s body, applying pressure to certain areas in order to alleviate pain or stress.

In general terms, a professional that practices this type of treatment is called a Massage Therapist. They often work in health centers, hospitals, clinics, and spas. They may also be self-employed and work from their own facilities or meet their clients at the location of their choice, usually being their homes. Massage Therapists need to be proficient in at least one style or type of massage. Some employers require them to be versatile enough to learn and apply different types of therapy depending on client demand. According to the type of treatment, Massage Therapists may use a variety of tools and supplies besides their own hands, including rollers, scented oils, lotions, creams, and even warm stones.

A Massage Therapist has to be familiarized with several aspects of human anatomy. When a patient comes in and describes their condition, it is part of the Massage Therapist’s job to quickly identify the source, cause, and location of the pain in order to proceed and apply the necessary treatment.

Primary Responsibilities

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Massage Therapists are required to complete.

  • Treating clients using massages in order to alleviate chronic pain and stress:
  • Interviewing clients in order to assess the location and causes of their pain and stress;
  • inquiring clients regarding their medical history and existing conditions in order to be able to apply the best treatment;
  • creating an environment in which the client can feel completely relaxed and calm in order to facilitate treatment;
  • massaging and rubbing muscles using a variety of movements and applying pressure to certain areas of the body;
  • using aiding products (e.g. scented oils and lotions) to assist in the process of alleviating pain and stress;
  • assessing clients’ physical condition (e.g. soft tissues, joints, muscle strength, and range of motions);
  • performing other forms of therapy (e.g. aromatherapy, skin cleansing, and exfoliation) besides massaging to complement treatment when needed; and
  • recommending further sessions to patients when necessary.
  • Keeping records of patients, treatments administered, and fees:
  • Documenting and submitting reports of clients to supervisors and employers, including all treatments and charges; and
  • maintaining a stock of all complimentary aids (e.g. scented oils, lotions, and creams).
  • Conferring with clients or supervisors in order to schedule sessions and appointments:
  • Contacting clients to confirm appointments when self-employed;
  • meeting their clients at specified locations when requested; and
  • providing clients with the address where the treatment will take place.
  • Advertising and promoting their business when self-employed.

Daily Tasks

  • Scheduling and providing therapy appointments.
  • Using different forms of therapies and massages in order to alleviate pain and stress.
  • Using complimentary aids in order to facilitate relaxation and treatment.
  • Keeping records of patients, treatments, and fees.
  • Charging clients according to treatments provided.

The average Massage Therapist salary in USA is $50,889 per year or $26 per hour. This is around 1.8 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $36,000 while most experienced workers make up to $71,000. These results are based on 900 salaries extracted from job descriptions.

Gross Salary50,889.33 $
Federal Income Tax- 5,941.08 $
Social Security- 3,155.14 $
Medicare- 737.90 $
State Income Tax- 2,460.16 $
Total Tax- 12,294.28 $
Net Pay*38,595.05 $
In New York, USA, if you make 50,889.33 $ a year, you will be taxed 12,294.28 $. That means that your take home pay will be 38,595.05 $ per year, or 3,216.25 $ per month. Your average tax rate is 24.16% and your marginal tax rate is 39.10%.
* Deductions are calculated based on the tables of New York, USA income tax.
Required Skills and Qualifications
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
  • Communicating clearly, especially verbally, in order to create a comfortable and transparent environment with patients, providing answers to their questions and addressing their concerns;
  • displaying strong customer service skills, setting high standards of patient care and safety, treating every patient with dignity and respect; and
  • being able to manage efficiently and work cohesively as part of an interdisciplinary team, dealing with a diverse group of people, always conveying a positive image and building positive relationships with others.
  • Strong sense of empathy, compassion, and altruism:
  • Demonstrating sensitivity to individual needs of patients; and
  • displaying an inherent ability to make others feel cared about.
  • High levels of manual dexterity and motor coordination:
  • Displaying exceptional attention to detail and good hand skills, having outstanding hand-eye coordination.
  • Exceptional professionalism and strong work ethic.
  • Great sense of dedication, commitment, responsibility and reliability.
  • Great physical condition and high levels of stamina:
  • Being able to endure long periods of time without sitting;
  • being strong enough to apply the required pressure on a person’s body;
  • being able to make repetitive movements; and
  • taking care of their wrists, hands, fingers, arms, and shoulders, as these are their most used organs and joints.

In order to become a Massage Therapist, aspirants must first have their high school diploma and complete a specialized training, which usually last from 500 to 1000 hours, in order to apply for either a state-level exam or for 1 of the 2 nationally recognized Therapist exams: the national certification exam, issued by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), conducted by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). It is worth mentioning that these exams are not recognized in all American states. Therefore, candidates need to research each state’s regulations.

Once aspirants have passed the exam, they can aim for their licensure. However, in order to apply for it, applicants need to do a detailed research as requirements and regulations to be licensed vary from state to state.

Although not mandatory, it is highly advisable to get the Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) credential in all professional materials, as it is a very common request in most American states. Additionally, getting a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification is always an excellent asset.

Job Offers
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