Hello folks of BodyworkOnline,
I am really new here, as this is my first post outside of the Introductions section. I have very
little knowledge of massage and its applications, but I hope to obtain some in my time here.
A bit of a background on myself:
I'm an 18 year old male who is just finishing up his last days of high school. In the past I've been very noncommittal when it came to choosing a career. I've considered many occupations, but a common factor in all of them has been working one on one with people. Before this year, I had pretty much decided on becoming a clinical psychologist. However, with the large amount of money and time needed for an appropriate degree (6+ years for a Doctorate, on average $140,000 in tuition), I have been looking elsewhere to fulfill my interest in helping people. That's when I started considering becoming an MT........
Basically I'm interested in becoming a massage therapist because it doesn't require too much education and I feel like it's something I could be passionate about. I don't know a lot about the field though, so here are where my questions come in.
• How does the general job market for male massage therapists look? I've heard being a male in this field is a big disadvantage.
• What are some qualities of a good massage therapist?
• Are there any reading materials on the basics of massage that you would specifically recommend?
• Is arthritis a long term health risk I should worry about? (now I'm just starting to sound paranoid)
• Finally, I have a pretty good state lottery scholarship that I got for good grades, but I can only use it at certain schools. One school that my scholarship is eligible at is Trident Technical College. Here is the link to the course informartion
. How does it look to you guys? If I go there, the entire program will be covered and all I'll have to pay for is textbooks.
Thanks for any input on my situation that you have. I'm really looking for some good encouragement, because I feel like this would be a great job for me
You are asking some good questions and have some interesting choices ahead of you.
First, while 6+ years of school and $140,000 in tuition seems like a lot at your age, as a clinical psychologist your potential income is far greater than most massage therapists will ever earn. That is a good profession full of opportunities to help people, and having a scholarship (even a limited one) to get you started is a real blessing. If you truly are interested in that profession, it might be incredibly rewarding to pursue it.
You are very fortunate to be self-aware about your preference for working one-on-one, helping people in some fashion. There are many careers that offer satisfaction of that type, including all kinds of physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, nutritionists, optometrists, massage therapists, opticians, counselors, etcetera, etcetera...
Whatever path you start on, know that you can always choose to change paths later.
Now, regarding your interest in becoming a massage therapist:
First, the level of education required varies depending on where you practice. Some areas literally require no formal training, while others (in the USA) require 1000+ hours. In other countries, I have heard of requirements in excess of 3000+ hours of formal training. So, one thing I recommend is to think about where you might want to practice massage therapy later, and get the kind of education you will need for that. "Too much" education is always better than "not enough". Also, most massage schools barely cover the most essential basics and a few extra things for variety. Many, many MTs take continuing education classes to improve on what they learned in massage school, sometimes spending hundreds or thousands of dollars per class. So, the initial education is minimal, but you may end up taking more classes for the duration of your massage career. The fun part is that there are tons of different things you may choose to study, and you can pick whatever you want.
Have you received any massages from professionals? If not, I strongly recommend it. Go to a couple of different types of massage places and see how different they are. Also, receiving the work is a critical part of learning. If you try it and don't really care for it, this might not be the profession for you. BUT, if you try it and love it, you will have a greater appreciation for what you would learn to do.
To learn about the profession as a whole, I suggest that you start with the 2012 Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet
made available by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).
Being a male massage therapist can be more challenging, especially at first, but there are plenty of times wherein it's an advantage. If you peruse the threads in "Massage - The Male Practitioners Perspective"
, you will learn a lot about the attitudes and experiences of professional male massage therapists. In my experience, the biggest challenge is learning how to build a clientele, and women have troubles with that, too. Once you know how to build a clientele, you will be successful.
A good massage therapist is people-oriented and passionate about what they do. They want to learn as much as they can, continuously update their knowledge, and are always open to changing what they do in order to get better results for their clients.
There are tons of great references on massage therapy. Aside from the hands-on skills, it is critical to learn about the nature of establishing an appropriate professional therapeutic relationship with your clients. For this, I suggest reading Nina Hartley's book "An Educated Heart".
Arthritis is a long term risk for EVERYONE, regardless of profession. With a healthy diet and good self-care, you can greatly reduce your chances of developing arthritis, or at least push back the date. Learning and practicing excellent self-care and body mechanics are a must for MTs that wish to stay in the business. The best professional reference on the topic is Darien Pritchard's book Dynamic Bodyuse for Effective, Strain-Free Massage
I don't know much about Trident Technical College, nor the reputation of their massage program. I recommend that you talk to people/businesses that employ massage therapists in your area to learn which school(s) have the best reputation for excellent, skilled graduates. As an employer of 17 MTs, I know the best massage schools in my state and often recommend them to prospective massage students in Minnesota.
Personally, I love being a massage therapist and it has absolutely changed my life for the better. As a male, I can promise you that it is possible to be very successful in this line of work.