There are two massage therapy schools in Alaska, both privately owned institutions. One is a career college and the other teaches Oriental medicine disciplines.
Students hear lectures in classrooms, receive hands-on training in labs, and gain practical experience in clinics. Earning a certificate, which takes about a year or less, qualifies a graduate to file an application for a license to practice in the state.
Most Alaska massage therapists have much higher incomes than those in the rest of the country. Job opportunities are growing, with officials predicting about 70 new positions annually during the decade of 2016-26.
You might also be interested in viewing our list of best massage schools & programs.
A department of the state Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, this board imposes massage therapist licensure requirements regarding training and testing. It grants licenses and license renewals, and determines continuing education rules.
The board adopts standards of professional and ethical conduct by practitioners, as well as minimum curriculum criteria for massage therapy schools and regulations governing MT establishments. Investigating complaints is another responsibility. The board holds hearings and punishes those found guilty of legal or ethical violations.
The panel is composed of five members, whom the governor appoints. Four of the officials are licensed massage therapists with at least three years of experience practicing in Alaska. The other member represents the public. No more than one member may be an owner of a massage school.
A high school education or a general education diploma is necessary for a resident seeking to become a massage therapist in Alaska. Science and health classes make prospective practitioners more qualified to continue their studies.
The state board gives licenses only to those who graduate from nationally accredited MT schools that provide at least 625 contact hours of instruction. There must be 125 hours of classes in anatomy, physiology, pathology, and kinesiology; 275 hours of basic massage therapy techniques and clinically related modalities; 50 hours in ethics and professional boundaries; and 138 hours of clinical practice.
Some programs feature additional courses in massage methods, health topics, business practices, or other subjects. The amount of time getting real-world clinical experience also varies.
Before looking for a job, graduates must obtain licenses from the state board. This entails filling out an online application, paying a fee, submitting to a criminal history record check, being fingerprinted, providing school transcripts, showing proof of CPR certification, and taking at least two hours of safety education about bloodborne pathogens and universal precautions.
Another requirement is to pass the MBLEx (Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination). The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards registers students to take the test.
Licenses need to be renewed every second year, with 16 continuing education credits from providers the board has approved.
We selected the schools below based on the programs that they offer, accreditation, student population, graduation rate and reputation.
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This small school in Anchorage offers a 915-contact-hour certificate program.
Students who take daytime classes graduate after 9.5 months. The evening program lasts 14 months. A part-time alternative is available. Among the techniques taught are chair, sports, and hot stone massage; as well as reflexology and Shiatsu. There is also instruction in business and legal practices, and students administer 80 massages in an on-campus clinic.
The program begins in January, March, May, and August. Classes are no larger than 16 students. The school assists students with career services, and has continuing education classes for graduates.
Also located in Anchorage, this school’s MT program integrates other Taoist healing arts such as acupressure, herbal therapy, medical QiGong therapy, Tai Chi, and Feng Shui.
The curriculum covers Swedish, Thai, and chair massage, as well. Additional classes address Tuina, aromatherapy, cupping, GuaSha, essential oils, moxibustion, energy healing, tuning forks, and meditation. The on-campus Wellness Clinic gives students
opportunities to treat the public with one-hour chair massages.
Local spa owners and chiropractors often hire graduates. The school serves its alumni with continuing education classes. There are also “mind-body community classes and fun workshops.”
The median annual salary and hourly wage for a practitioner here are more than $93,400 and nearly $45—more than double the United States averages of over $41,400 and approximately $20.
Earners in the upper 10 percent in Alaska make almost $129,450 a year or about $62.25 per hour—far outpacing the national norm of around $78,300 or $37.65. Those in the state’s lower 10 percent bring in about $21,600 or $10.40—similar to nearly $21,350 or approximately $10.25 across the nation.
There were 510 positions for massage therapists in Alaska in 2016. Within a decade, the total will become 610, based on estimates by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. This would be a job-growth rate of 20 percent, a little slower than the expected U.S. median of 26 percent.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop