There are 18 massage therapy schools in Virginia. They range from public universities and community colleges to private institutes and academies. MT programs are available across the state, in metropolitan areas and small towns.
Many schools award certificates that take a year or less to earn. Some offer associate degrees that take 15 months to two years. Curricula feature classroom lectures, lab sessions, and real-world clinical experiences.
Massage therapists make less money than the national average, but the job prospects are excellent. Officials expect about 560 annual openings in the field during the decade ending in 2026.
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This 14-member panel, part of the state Department of Health Professions, has departments of administration, licensing, and enforcement. The governor appoints the members, as well as those who serve on the Advisory Board on Massage Therapy.
The advisory board is composed of three licensed MTs, one administrator or faculty member of a nationally accredited MT school, and three members who represent the public. The advisory group’s duties are to:
Oversee practitioner qualifications, examinations, and license registrations
Regulate massage therapists to ensure they comply with laws and standards of professional conduct
Enforce license renewal and continuing education requirements
The department’s Enforcement Division investigates complaints of possible illegal or unethical behavior. Officials take disciplinary action such as fines and license suspensions and revocations. The division also inspects massage therapy establishments. However, the state does not license facilities.
MT schools stipulate that applicants have high school diplomas or GEDs. Students may improve their admission chances by taking college-level classes in science, business, and psychology.
To become a massage therapist in Virginia, it is necessary to attend an accredited postsecondary school that has the authorization of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. The MT program must consist of at least 500 clock hours.
National standards dictate that programs feature courses in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and pathology. There are usually classes in business, laws and ethics, and hygiene. Students learn various massage techniques and other therapeutic methods.
After graduating, a prospective practitioner needs to pass the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), which the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards administers. The organization has an online registration process that involves a fee of about $200. Students schedule the exam at a Pearson VUE testing center in the state. The company reports the results to the state board.
Practitioners will have to renew their licenses every other year, which entails getting 24 hours of continuing education. This is to include at least 1 hour of professional ethics. Massage therapists whom the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork recognizes are exempted from the CE mandate.
We selected the schools below based on the programs that they offer, accreditation, student population, graduation rate and reputation.
View our Ranking Methodology to learn more about how we rank schools.
This school in Vienna is just 20 minutes from Washington, D.C., via public transportation. It boasts “99.53 percent student satisfaction.”
Earning an MT certificate takes as little as 28 weeks. The program is one of two in VIrginia that the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation recognizes. The curriculum involves 700 hours. Students spend 20 hours on campus and five hours online each week. They also administer one-hour Swedish massages at an on-campus clinic.
Day and evening class schedules are available. Licensed practitioners teach all courses. New programs begin every six weeks.
Our 14th top school, in Falls Church, touts its “integrative approach to health and wellness.” The 600-hour certificate program takes six to seven months to finish. There is a part-time option. New classes begin in August, October, December, and March.
Students learn Swedish, sports, deep tissue, clinical, and chair massage techniques. Other courses include Pharmacology, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Muscle Energy Technique, Alternative Modalities, Hydrotherapy and Spa, and Reflexology.
The curriculum features 17 hours of clinics and fieldwork. Students treat the public in multiple settings. The school provides job-placement assistance and continuing education classes.
This Virginia Beach school, established in 1987, “provides the tools for holistic health, spiritual growth, and personal empowerment.”
The 720-hour certificate program, which takes as little as eight months to complete, involves the usual standard courses. There are also classes in Mind/Body/Spirit; Massage Research; Nutrition, Health, and Wellness; Introduction to Asian Theory; Business Development; Hydrotherapy; and Reflexology. Students learn clinical, chair, trigger-point, and sports massage methods.
The curriculum includes at least 200 hours administering Swedish massage, reflexology, and other treatments to the public at a student clinic; and two clinical practicums totaling 55 hours.
Students in massage therapy programs here attend classes in Chesapeake or Virginia Beach.
Both campuses offer a 945-hour certificate program with 24 credits, including general education classes. The eight-month curriculum consists of the basic coursework plus Myology, Clinical Massage, and Success in College and the Workplace.
A 1,080-hour, 60-credit associate of occupational science program in Chesapeake takes 15 months. The curriculum has the same courses as the certificate program, as well as Shiatsu, Nutrition, Critical Cognition, and other classes. Students learn pregnancy, sports, myofascial, and deep-tissue massage. Those enrolled in each program get hands-on experience at a student clinic.
This small, private school is in Lynchburg’s River Ridge Mall. It launched its massage therapy certificate program in 2018.
The six-month curriculum totals 900 hours of full-time study. Day and evening schedules are available. Along with the typical courses, there are classes in Swedish Massage, Hydrotherapy, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Sports/Special Populations Massage, Acupuncture, Hot Stone Therapy, Somatic Psychology, Spa Therapy, and History and Career Opportunities.
Students learn how to communicate with clients and healthcare professionals. They spend 120 hours in clinical settings, including the school’s “full-service salon.” Sylvain has a 100 percent acceptance rate, though program slots are limited.
This small job-training school, in the city of the same name, provides a one-year, 64-credit MT certificate program.
Among the core courses are Medical Office and Health Science, Clinical Assisting and Pharmacology, Maternal Child, Psychology, and Career Development. The curriculum includes general education classes in English composition, literature, math, and computers. There is instruction in Shiatsu, Thai massage, Chinese medicine, trigger-point therapy, myofascial release, rolfing, and sports massage.
The student-to-teacher ratio is 16:1, better than average for Virginia community colleges. Students practice their skills for 100 hours at the school’s day spa, and perform two externships.
Based in Fairfax, this small private school offers three massage therapy programs on its Centerville and Silver Spring extension campuses.
Students earn certificates in 30 weeks by completing a 600-hour, 67-credit curriculum. Another certificate is available in Asian bodywork therapy. An associate degree program takes 70 weeks. Ninety-one credits cover the standard coursework, plus classes in Pregnancy/Special Populations Massage, Myofascial Release, Sports Massage, and Lymph Drainage Massage.
Students take part in a 100-hour practicum, work at an on-campus clinic, take field trips, and hear guest speakers.
This for-profit network of career colleges and institutes consists of 40 schools in 15 states. The Richmond and Norfolk campuses are among those that award certificates in massage therapy.
The 720-hour curriculum involves 36 weeks of study. Classes begin in April, May, July, August, October, and November. There is instruction in Swedish, deep-tissue, sports, and orthopedic massage modalities; as well as spa techniques.
At an on-campus clinic, students perform massage methods and other types of therapy. They also learn about clinic management. The school provides career services and continuing education classes.
This private Fredericksburg school, originally the Health and Beauty Academy, has since expanded to additional career fields. The MT certificate program is part of the Wellness & Beauty Department.
The 750-hour curriculum features 363 hours of lectures, 252 of lab sessions, and 135 hours of clinical work. In addition to the usual courses, there are modules in Hydrology & Neuromuscular, Special Populations, Lymph & Prenatal, Hot Stone & Reflexology, Sports Massage, and Eastern modalities.
Students spend 90 hours administering massages and other techniques in The Spa at Eastern, an on-campus clinic. About 85 percent of graduates pass the licensure exam on their first attempt.
This public school offers a nine-month MT certificate program that consists of 750 hours and 25 credits.
Students enroll for two semesters, either in the fall and spring or in the spring and summer. They attend classes at either the Rockbridge Center in Buena Vista or the Roanoke Higher Education Center.
The curriculum includes an Introduction to Massage, Musculoskeletal Structure/Function, CPR, College Success Skills, Eastern-Asian Bodywork, Exercise Science, and three Therapeutic Massage classes. Students also perform internships. Prerequisites for admission to the program are 100 hours of anatomy and physiology, and 200 hours of massage theory and application.
This small public school is in a rural area, eight miles north of the town of Martinsville.
The three-semester Therapeutic Massage certificate program involves a minimum of 39 credits. Among the courses are Concepts of Disease, Introduction to Personal Wellness Concepts, Muscles and Massage, and College Success Skills.
Students also must complete 15 credits of the following general education classes: College Composition I and II, Small Business Management, CPR, Yoga, and Human Biology.
A medium-sized school in a rural region of southern Virginia, SVCC operates on seven campuses. The MT certificate program is at the Estes Community Center in the small town of Chase City.
It is possible to graduate from the program in as little as six months. An option is to attend evening classes on Tuesdays and Wednesday for a year. In addition to the typical core courses, students take Cosmetology Theory. They learn “standard massage techniques,” as well as traditional Swedish, pregnancy, elderly, sports, corporate chair, and deep tissue methods.
The curriculum includes an internship at an area business.
This school is based in Chester, but MT students attend classes on a six-building campus in the Richmond suburb of Midlothian. Advisory committees of local business leaders guide all JTCC technical programs.
The three-semester MT career studies certificate curriculum takes less than a year to finish. Students must complete at least 18 credits. They take the standard courses, plus Musculoskeletal Structure and Function, Business Skills for the Health Services Practitioner, Nutrition, Cardiac Care, and Principles of Psychology. Classes teach Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, prenatal, and infant massage techniques.
The program provides practical experience in on-campus labs and internships.
A private school with 19 campuses in Virginia and the Carolinas, East Coast Polytechnic Institute was formerly known as the ECPI College of Technology. MT students attend classes in Richmond and Newport News.
The certificate program involves 645 contact hours in 10 months of full-time study. Day and evening class schedules are available. Students take the usual core courses, and learn medical and special populations massage techniques. There is a Career Orientation class, and the school provides job-placement services.
Program participants get practical experience at a student clinic and during an internship. Classes begin every five weeks.
This is the largest public education institution in the state, and the No. 2 community college nationwide in terms of enrollment. The MT certificate program is on the Woodbridge campus in eastern Prince William County.
Among the required courses in the 25-credit curriculum are Interpersonal Communication, CPR, Lifetime Fitness and Wellness, Principles of Nutrition, First Aid and Safety, Human Sexuality, Exercise Science, Stress Management, General Pharmacology, Therapy for the Older Adult, and a prerequisite in biology or health science.
Students learn pre- and post-event massage, hydrotherapy, Shiatsu, polarity techniques, pain management, self-care practices, clinical bodywork, and advanced massage modalities.
The average practitioner here makes about $39,350 a year or $19 per hour, less than the national median of around $41,400 or $20.
The top 10 percent of the state’s earners receive about $57,900 or $28, compared with around $78,300 or $37.60 nationwide. For the bottom 10 percent, the pay is about $17,900 or $8.60 in Virginia; and around $21,400 or $10.25 nationally.
There were 4,070 licensed massage therapists in this state in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency predicts the number will increase to 5,080 by 2026. That would be a job-growth rate of 25 percent, about the same as the projected national median of 26 percent.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop
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