Finding the best massage therapy school can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for. There are several categories of massage therapy programs that schools will follow. Some are geared toward traditional Chinese massage and others will be medical massage focused, or sports rehab massage; it is up to you to determine which school setting is best for you. Massage therapy schools have come along way since I entered the massage industry 14 years ago, since that time many massage schools have come and gone but the industry continues to grow and the need for more massage therapy programs is greater then ever.

When looking at a potential massage program you are interested in, be sure to see that the program says it is an accredited school. Unfortunately, I still hear about it to this day that students complete an entire massage program and when they go to sign up for the EMBLx exam they are denied a spot because they do not have the required documents to sit for the exam.

This is appalling, I can’t even imagine that feeling of thinking your are all set and ready to start your career as a massage therapist only to be turned away at the finish line. Don’t let this happen to you, do you research and talk to massage therapist in your area an see what massage therapy school they attended and what they thought of the program.

What makes a massage therapy school accredited?

For a massage therapy school to be consider accredited they have to have a 90{aa85435535b2bb3a4ba78547bb21fc32eb7710b0e77a951858af600607b97eba} EMBLx exam pass rate and they also have to follow the state guidelines regarding the amount of hours a massage student must physically be in the classroom. State to state the requirements are different regarding the amount of hours an accredited massage therapy program needs to be. Some states still only require 500 hours while others require 1,500 hours but many states are in the middle at 750 hours of in class and clinic time. Topics you will cover throughout your massage therapy program:

  1. Kinesiology
  2. Anatomy and Physiology
  3. Business and ethics
  4. Typically a computer class
  5. History of massage
  6. Advanced study of movement
  7. And many clinic hours

For a more in depth look into what it takes to be a successful massage therapy student check out this article.

The licensing process will be that much easier to get through if your massage therapy program is national accredited. The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) is a national accrediting agency specifically for the massage therapy profession. However, there are other nationally recognized accrediting agencies that accredit health programs and/or trade schools. What’s key is that the accrediting agency be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Another way to tell if a massage school is approved is by seeing the letters NCBTMB which stands for The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. The NCBTMB is not an accrediting agency but is still important to see in prospective massage programs that they are backed by the NCBTMB. The NCBTMB has only one  job and that is to improve and grow the massage industry through education and overseeing schools to maintain a level of standard that all massage therapy schools should follow.

Once you have completed your massage training and you start your career as a massage therapist you will need to take continuing  education as part of maintaining your massage license. When looking for prospective classes I like to see that any class I consider attending be NCBTMB approved course and displays this stamp.

Massage therapy schools focus?

Each school is different depending on the schools goals and the states requirements. For example, if you are attending a massage therapy school that their primary focus is sports massage, you will have more classes geared towards different types of athletes and common sports injuries.

If you are attending a massage therapy school that is a medical massage program, that program will be longer and it will be classified as an associate program most likely being a 2 year program. Other massage therapy schools primary goal is to get you ready to work in a spa. Where you will have all the same course work but you will also focus on how to give an effective 50 minute massage and you may cover product selling tactics.

Some schools are more traditional and focus on Chinese massage modalities like acupressure and Reiki. In massage schools like this you will be exposed to lots of modalities focused around alternative medicines, you will learn herbalism, aromatherapy and Thai massage. If you can find a school that focuses around this and is doing it right, jump on it! This would give you the best first steps to your massage career.

Becoming certified in medical massage is also a growing trend and it could be a benefit to you to become certified in this. You can attend a massage therapy school that focuses on this specifically or you can later take continuing education and become certified. I know many massage therapist that are prominent in their area and are recognized by other health care professionals and value what they bring to the community in terms of alternative healthcare as a medical massage therapist.

Being a medical massage therapist is a great way to get doctor referrals or possibly work in a doctors office or post-op medical center not to mention any kind of physical therapy office. Medical massage is a sure way to fast track your massage therapy career in the industry today.

State requirements:

Organizations like the AMTA have been hard at work for decades trying to uniform all 50 states to have a set standard of classroom and clinic hours but the wheel of congress move slow. It may surprise you but a few states have no requirements what so ever regarding massage therapy. Anyone could label themselves as a massage therapist and open up shop and none would be the wiser, that’s pretty scary! The states that require no formal massage training include:

  1. Wyoming
  2. Kansas
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Minnesota
  5. Vermont

If you live in one of these states don’t get comfortable many organizations are working around the clock to change this so if you are interested in a career as a massage therapist I recommend getting a formal education, even if that means you have to travel a bit to get it. If you truly want to become a massage therapist then you need take your massage career serious and get a real education!

Check out what your state requirements are before looking at any massage therapy school so you can make an informed decision when applying.

Massage therapy schools near me:

Once you have determined what your state requirements are to become a licensed massage therapist then it’s time to find some massage therapy schools to choose from. To help in this search there are several resources available to you that update their lists regularly. Some of the resources include:

  1. AMTA
  2. ABMP

If you are looking at a particular massage therapy school and you do not see it on either of the sites listed above I would proceed with caution! When evaluating a program, there are many factors to consider: quality of the faculty and facilities, financial stability of the school, and job-search assistance provided to graduates. Be sure to verify that any school you’re interested in is accredited or endorsed by COMTA especially if you do not see it on the list above.

Online massage therapy schools:

When searching for a massage therapy program near you, it might be slim picking. You would then naturally look to see if there were any online massage therapy schools available to you. Unfortunately, you will not find any accredited massage therapy programs online because they don’t exist.

You can take online continuing education and get certified in a variety of modalities but you have to start your massage career in a traditional classroom setting. Each state requires a certain number of in classroom hours and clinic time.

You may get confused when searching this but you must physically attend an accredited program in class in order to have the necessary  hours documented in order to sit for the EMBLx exam. Please don’t get discouraged, many massage schools are extremely flexible, having part time or full time hours. Some schools offer night and weekend classes and some school have found a way to create programs that utilize online lectures in conjunction with in class clinic to meet their state requirements.

This allows the student to get much of their course work done from home but will still need to be in class for clinic, there is no way around that part. Also note that if you have to drive some distance to get to school, a massage therapy program typically last 9 months to 2 years. So in the grand screen of things this is not a long time. So what I am saying is where there is will there is a way!

Go forth and be awesome:

I hope you found this article helpful as you start your career as a massage therapist. Finding the right massage therapy school is key to having a great experience as a massage student. The biggest take away from this article is to make sure the massage program is accredited and you should verify that with the COMTA before applying.

When you are ready to start your journey to becoming a massage student check this page out to see what you need before your first day of class. Thanks for reading and I would love to hear from you and learn about your massage journey. Thanks again