Skills Needed for a Massage Therapist Career

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:

Required Abilities

  • Good strength: Good strength to work out knots in muscles.
  • Manual dexterity: Ability to precisely move hands and fingers.
  • Visual processing: Ability to identify issues by sight.
  • Good listening skills: Massage therapists need to listen to clients’ complaints and use their feedback to modify their massage routine to be the most effective.

Necessary Knowledge

  • Biology: Massage therapists need to know the basics of human biology. More specifically, they need to know how the body responds to pain and how muscles get sore so they can properly treat clients.
  • Anatomy/physiology: They must also know how the body is arranged and organized so they can more effectively target specific muscle groups.
  • Chemistry: Massage therapists have to know about the different substances they use and how they interact.
  • Kinesiology: Massage therapists need to know the dynamics of human movement.
  • Therapeutic techniques: Massage therapists will learn about various massage modalities, like Swedish massage, sports massage, and deep tissue massages.
  • Knowledge of the spine and vertebrae: Many people go to massage therapists for back and spine pain and there is evidence that massage therapy is an effective treatment for reducing spinal pain.

Technology Skills

  • Calendar and scheduling software: Massage therapists might need to schedule sessions with their clients and their schedule varies widely
  • Medical software: Massage therapists take a detailed history of their client’s health
  • Spreadsheets and word processors: Since many massage therapists are self-employed, they often need to keep track of client invoices using spreadsheet and word processing programs.

Desirable Skills

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.

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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