Massage Education and Training
If you wish to become a qualified massage therapist, you will need to go to school. There is, at the present time, no set path to pursue the career. Unfortunately, training requirements and educational qualifications vary from country to country throughout the world.
In fact, the specifications for a massage therapist may even vary within a country. In England, Canada and the United States, for example, differences continue to exist between provinces and states. It is up to the potential massage practitioner to ensure he or she receives the best possible education in the field.
There is no lack of good schools on massage therapy. There are many different college courses and training programs. The curriculum for each and the focus will vary. You may attend a course providing general information on a variety of massage techniques. You could also go to a college or school which concentrates on or promotes a specific type of massage therapy e.g. Swedish, Sports or Trigger-Point.
HOW TO CHOOSE A COURSE
In general, be sure to choose a course which offers you an extensive look at topics covering anatomy, kinesiology and physiology. This will provide you with a solid grounding in basic body mechanics, physical makeup and motor development. You will need to thoroughly understand how the body works if you want to be effective in your career choice. Make sure you prepare yourself well in advance by taking courses in such sciences as biology during your high school years.
Besides courses in physiology and related topics, your selected massage school should offer a curriculum preparing you for the different types of techniques used in massage therapy. These should include a look at both Western and Asian methods. A basic overview of the types of massage should contain Swedish Massage and Traditional Chinese Massage. The two provide an excellent and comprehensive overview of the history and techniques of massage therapy you will require in your chosen field.
You may also wish to specialize. There are a variety of massage therapy schools that focus only on specific type of massage therapy. While you will still learn the basics, the major focal point will be a particular type of massage therapy or a technique. You may want to concentrate on Shiatsu, Reflexology, Reiki or Aromatherapy Massage.
Your interest may lie in Trigger-Point, Swedish Massage or Sports Massage. It is probably a good idea to take a general overview before you commit yourself to one specific type. This will ensure you do not spend time in a course your ultimately decide is wrong for you and your intent. If you are unsure as to your preference, enroll in a general course.
Another way to eliminate what you like from what you have no interest in is to attend workshops. Many local colleges, on-going education programs and community centers offer special interest courses. These frequently include instruction in massage. Attend one or more of these to see if you have the personality, talent and intent for becoming a massage therapist.
PRACTICAL VS. THEORY
During the selection process, consider the number of practical versus theory practice offered by the schools. In the long run, it is the implementation of what you learn that will determine what type of massage therapist you will become. Therefore, it is essential to see whether your school has a focus.
Does it concentrate on the theoretical aspect or the practical? Do you have sufficient sessions in applying what you learn? Is there an apprentice-type program where you can see and put what you learn into action? BUSINESS SKILLS
When you determine your course of post secondary education, look to see if the school offers courses in operating in the world of business. Such a curriculum will allow you to explore the options open to a massage therapist. These may include working in an office environment, alongside a chiropractor, out of your home or in your own office or shop. To help you make your decision, the ideal school will include financial courses.
A reputable massage therapy school will provide you with information on such things as operating costs, location, financial options and how to prepare a business plan. A good massage school will also not ignore the topic of ethics both in business and with your clients. You need to be aware of these issues if you wish to be successful and the best possible massage therapist for your clients.
Massage schools may also help you obtain gainful employment. They can provide you with guidance in selecting employment. Some schools offer job placement services for their graduates. They also continue to support their alumni with specific services to help them continue their learning. This may include post-graduate courses or workshops.
ACCREDITATION AND LICENSING
Choose your school with care. Check to see if the courses you are taking are not only pertinent but are accredited. Since some states require licenses to operate, be sure you select a school meeting with their approval. Be aware, your education is ongoing. In some places, maintaining a valid license involves continually update your education and improving your skill through annual attendance at courses and workshops.
Be sure your school prepares you for the taking of any exams following your graduation. Some countries require you take a specific examination before you are able to operate in their jurisdiction. In the United States, you may be required to take the Certified Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB).
In Europe and the United Kingdom, there are different licensing organizations and exams. The licensing requirements may actually vary in different cities. This may lead to confusion. The Irish Massage Therapists Association (IMTA), for example is trying to establish a national examination.