If there is one industry that has seen much growth in the past 20 years it is massage therapy.
Massage therapy is quickly becoming an extremely lucrative profession and massage therapists face great starting salaries and numerous options for career growth.
In today’s fast-paced stressful world, more people than ever are looking for ways to escape from the monotony of life and find some relaxation. That is one reason why massage therapy as a profession has really taken off in the past 20 years.
Massage Therapy Salary by State
The data suggest that massage therapist pay is highest in New England and the West and lowest in the Midwest and Southeast.
|State||Hourly median wage||Annual median wage|
|District of Columbia||$15.76||$32,770|
How Much Do Massage Therapists Make a Year?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2018 median annual salary for massage therapists in the US was $41,420.
The lowest 10% of massage therapists earned less than $21,340 and the highest 10% made over $78,280.
Massage therapists working in the offices of chiropractors generally see the highest average pay ($51,690) while massage therapists employed in the accommodations industry usually see the lowest average pay ($28,020).
In general, massage therapists charge on a per-client basis and often receive tips for their services.
These figures are based on the assumption of a 40-hour workweek.
Many massage therapists, especially those who are self-employed, regularly work more than 40 hours a week.
How Much Do Massage Therapists Make an Hour?
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for massage therapists in the US is $19.92/hour.
The top 10% of earners have an hourly wage of approximately $36.73/hour and the bottom 10% of earners have an hourly wage of $10.26/hour.
The average hourly wage for massage therapists employed in chiropractic offices is around $25.00/hour while the hourly wage for those employed in the accommodations industry is $13.47/hour.
Starting Salary for Massage Therapists
The average starting salary for massage therapists is around $21,340.
Starting massage therapists often work in day spas and personal services, which require a relatively small amount of formal education.
The highest-paid massage therapists usually work in the offices of physicians and chiropractors, which requires much more training and specialization.
Many massage therapists who work in physician offices and rehab clinics are specialized in a specific kind of massage therapy modality, such as hydrotherapy or deep tissue massage.
Best Industries for Massage Therapists
As of 2018, the industries with the top average annual wages for massage therapists were as follows:
- Offices of chiropractors: $51,690
- Offices of other health practitioners: $44,560
- Personal care services: $39,740
- Accommodation: $28,020
A very large percentage of massage therapists (39%) are self-employed and run their own facilities or rent out space form a studio to meet clients.
Almost a third (29%) work in the personal care services industry and about 12% are employed in the offices of health practitioners.
Similar Occupations Compared
|Physical Therapist Assistant||$48,090|
Massage Therapy Demand & Job Outlook
Massage therapy is a lucrative career that is currently facing extraordinarily fast growth rates.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the massage therapy field is expected to grow by a massive 26% from 2016 to 2026, more than double the average career field growth.
The very high demand means that every year, more and more positions as massage therapists are opening up.
A large part of this growth has been spurned by the recent admission of the physical and mental health benefits of massage therapy. As healthcare providers understand more the importance of massage therapy techniques, massage therapy is likely to continue to grow as a profession.
Additionally, as more people young and old turn to massages as a legitimate form of recreation and relaxation, the field will continue to see new growth.
Massage therapists also are becoming integrated into other fields. For example, many professional sports teams hire massage therapists to help athletes rehabilitate from injury and pain.
How Can I Start Working as a Massage Therapist?
Depending on the state, education requirements to work as a massage therapist can vary significantly.
Most massage therapy education programs require around 500 hours of study to graduate while some programs require 1,000+ hours of study.
Massage therapy programs involve a mix of in-class instruction and practical application.
If you live in a state that requires massage therapists to be licensed and regulated, after graduating from your program, you must pass a state-mandated examination to receive your license to practice.
Not all states require licensure for massage therapists. As of 2016, 45 states and D.C require massage therapists to acquire a state license.
Massage therapists often have to pass criminal background checks and mandatory drug screenings before they can work.