Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is one of many healthcare professions that in a growing demand. Read on to discover what is a massage therapist, what are its duties, desirable skills and work environment. 

You might also be interested in learning how to become a massage therapist or viewing our list of best massage therapy schools in the United States.

What is a Massage Therapist?

Massage therapists treat their clients injuries, aches and pains, and provide a relaxing and enjoyable hands-on treatment. They use the mode of touch to work on the soft-tissues and muscle in the client’s body.

Through a series of techniques a massage therapist can relieve pain, reduce physical and mental stress, help rehabilitate injuries, and most importantly – provide an extremely relaxing and beneficial experience.

What Does a Massage Therapist Do?

Massage therapists main objective is to offer relief from pain and to help rehabilitate injuries. They do this by using their hands, arms, and elbows to work on the tissues and muscles around the client’s body to help resolve their health issues.

A typical massage session takes between 30-45 minutes. The session starts with a brief consultation to establish the needs of the client. This allows the therapist to tailor the session to their needs. There are various different modalities, which are types of massage therapy.

The most common types of massage are:

  • Swedish Massage
  • Sports Massage
  • Deep-tissue Massage
  • Shiatsu Massage

A therapist will often specialize in one modality. Although there are a lot of similar stroke and techniques across several of the modalities, so they can often perform a few different types of massage.

Some massage therapists will travel to their clients. This is made possible as the equipment needed for a typical massage is a table, some blankets, and massage oil. Performing a massage also involves setting a relaxing and calm environment. There are mental and spiritual benefits to a massage, not just the physical. A lot of clients have treatments for the mentally relaxing benefits only.

The Key Duties of a Massage Therapist Include:

  • Keep their studio space clean and prepared for the next client
  • Consult with clients to find out their therapy requirements and current health
  • Perform massage techniques to resolve the client’s’ issues
  • Provide advice and discuss aftercare for clients

There is a mix of self-employed massage therapists and those who are employed in spa’s and health and fitness centers. Health centers will often have a massage therapist in-house as they complement other health treatments attend to sporting injuries.

Desirable Skills of a Massage Therapist

In such a personal and intimate profession as a massage therapist there are some desirable skills that help people to enter the industry, and to be successful. Possessing the following skills are certainly an advantage:

Good at Using Hands

Some people are naturally better than other at using their hands for practical work. Using your hands is certainly a skill that can be improved on with practice, but having a natural touch and fluidity to hand movements will help you be a better masseuse.


Massage therapists work on people and work with people. You are going to be using your hands to work all over their body, so being able to make your client feel comfortable is incredibly important.


Massage therapists are left to work with clients on their own. You need to be self-motivated to do the best possible job and secure repeat business. Self-employed therapists are responsible for booking all their own clients and managing their own schedule.

Reliable and Timely

You absolutely have to always be on time. This is vital if you’re self-employed, but just as important if you work for a company. Most companies will not have someone available to stand-in, so all the appointments will be canceled if the therapist doesn’t show up.

Massage Therapist Work Environment

The majority of massage therapists are self-employed.

Typically, massage therapists rent out a studio where they can provide clients with their services.

Some massage therapists make home visits as well, and some work out of their own homes.

Generally, self-employed massage therapists must acquire their own work materials including lotions, oils, massage beds, sheets, and pillows.

The typical massage therapist works on a per-client basis so their schedule is constantly changing and involves working nights and weekends.

Working conditions depend heavily on the venue. Relaxation massage may be performed in a dimly lit room with candles and incense, while a rehab massage may be performed in a well-lit room with multiple other people receiving the same treatment.

Since many massage therapists are self-employed, a good chunk of time is spent attending to business-related matters.

Massage therapy is not a particularly high-impact career but there are some potential risks. Giving a massage can be physically demanding so massage therapists are at risk of fatigue and muscle injury from repetitive motion and standing for long periods of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Noel Griffith

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