10 most asked questions about my career as a Massage Therapist
(That are perfectly fine to ask!)
Thinking about becoming a massage therapist, and doing some research about the career?
Interested in getting a massage, but feeling self-conscious or nervous? Do you have some of these same or similar questions you have been wanting to ask?
I have been working as a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) for 4 years, and love it! I do not mind when clients ask me questions, and I thought it would be informative for others if I shared a few popular ones along with my honest answers. These answers are as close to word-for-word of how I usually respond, and all info is based off my own opinion and research as a Licensed Massage Therapist in Pennsylvania. For more about me and my massage career, you can start with my first post: http://balanceandblessings.com/2017/06/28/a-more-detailed-introduction-part-1/
Here are the top ten, most commonly asked questions I get from my clients:
1. Did you go to school for this?
Yes, as a matter of fact in the state of Pennsylvania you must have not only certification from a Massage Program, but a License from the State. Different States require different levels of hours and certifications, but most now require you to have a license. In the state of PA, 600 hours are required to graduate with a certification. My school’s program consisted of 750. After you complete a Professional Massage Therapy Certification program you may then go on to the next step in obtaining a license; pass a huge exam administered by the State at a testing facility of your choice. It is very difficult, and of course costs money. I was very lucky to pass mine on the first try only a week after I finished my class hours! Oh, and if you are lucky enough to pass the exam you still have another step: sending in the application (again costs money) with your test scores to the State which will hopefully not find any reason to not allow you a license. If everything goes through fine, you will receive that beautiful certificate with your very own, activated license number in the mail usually within a few weeks. I might have cried a little.
2. How Much does it cost, and how long of a program?
I visited at least 5 schools that had a massage program including technical schools and a community college. Every single one was different whether the price, length of program, or what modalities were in the curriculum. The school I attended offered only a massage certification program, which took me one year of part-time classes to complete. Full-time day students could complete it in only 7 ½ months! My total cost was about $12,000, but included EVERYTHING I needed in that one price; a big selling point for me in deciding to attend! My books, uniform shirts, lotions/body treatment products, and even a professional massage table were included in my tuition!
3. Do you ever need to get recertified or relicensed?
You do not need to get recertified, but you do need to renew your license every 2 years. You will be required to take 24 credits of continuing education + keep your CPR Certification Current + PA now requires most healthcare professionals to take a two credit course in child-abuse reporting. The re-licensing process is simple and done online. If you do not have a current license, you better not get caught practicing massage and getting paid for it. If you do get caught, say good-bye to any chance of getting one or getting one next renewal period! Not even students are allowed to be paid, but can accept tips.
4. Do you do this full-time?
Yes, for the most part because I usually work in more than one place, as do most Massage therapists that work full-time. However, regular 40 hour a week full-time positions are uncommon for LMTs, and most will not work that many anyway in order to save our hands and strength. 20-30 hours a week is a norm for our industry. I am still building my own business between outcall massages and renting my own office, while also working for a Chiropractor, plus setting up at events over the summer, so my weeks have ranged from 25 hours-50!
5. Do you get massages too?
YES. At least once a month. I try my best to “practice what I preach” to my clients, which is recommending massage at least once a month for a beneficial wellness routine. I recently started practicing Yoga, which I often recommend to my clients to help correct any body alignment issues.
6. Does your significant other like massage?
No, but my dog LOVES it!
I should mention here that we Massage Therapists understand that not everyone likes to be touched. If you want to try massage, but feel self-conscious or nervous a great introduction to it would be chair massage. For a chair massage you stay clothed, and a chair massage appointment usually lasts for a shorter amount of time (10-30minutes).
7. How can you work on butts all the time?!
First of all, the state of PA requires proper draping which includes keeping private parts covered up, although we can undrape a “butt cheek” as long as we do not expose the gluteal cleft (aka your butt crack) unless we have your consent and ONLY if treatment to that area is necessary. Many people do leave their underwear on, or have me practice over the sheet, and either way is perfectly fine with me. Even if there is half a butt hanging out, we massage therapist are so busy trying to see through your mess of tissues, muscles, and trigger points (aka knots) underneath, and focus so much more on what is going on with your anatomy underneath, we really do not even have time to think “oh look, ew, a butt.” It is more like, “oh my word – their gluteus maximus is so freakin tight!”
8. How do you put up with hairy/sweaty/smelly people? Or FEET?!
We got oils for that. 😉 Honestly, there have been a few bad enough I can actually remember them, but like I said in my answer to the previous question about butts, we are so focused on trying to work through what is underneath usually it is hard for things like hair and smells to distract us. Or, we might be worried we are the ones being too sweaty or smelly from how hard we physically have to work! As for feet – I have wipes for that, and at some places have hid washcloths under the feet end of my table just in case! Hair can be tough, but usually I just use more lotion or oil to help me glide easier.
9. Are “Fat” people harder to work on?
Well, not really. Surprisingly they are about the same as everyone else. If they are tight, they are tight. Whether it is extra skin or actual fat underneath, sometimes it can get in the way a little of getting to deeper layers, but not really that much harder than working on a severely tight “skinny” person.
10. What does Massage do?
Massage, according to our State Board, is “a system of structured touch, pressure, movement, holding and treatment of the soft tissue manifestations of the human body in which the primary intent is to enhance the health and well-being of the client.” I could go into scientifics of how it all works, but it would take me a while to go through. BTW, The great thing about massage and massage therapists are no two can be exactly alike. My education and training whether from books or hands on, how I touch, how I drape, what modalities are mixed into a session, and pretty much everything is at least a tad bit different than even one of my fellow former classmates.
Before going on I must say that this career is a great one for someone like me who likes to change things up once in a while and be creative because you can sort of personalize it as you go. Hence me running off to California soon to learn how to work on kids, as mentioned in this post…….. This means you might not like one therapist, but really like another, and we are TOTALLY OKAY WITH THAT! We do not get offended by much. All this to say, Massage can benefit your body in many ways, but if you are looking for a particular modality (i.e. sports massage, lymphatic drainage, etc.) feel free to try a few therapists out. We are all different in many ways, and we understand that.
Back to the rest of my usual response….
The benefits of massage are numerous! It can affect every system in your body. Here are a few popular benefits: Relief of stress and anxiety, speeds up metabolism, relief from headaches and migraines, faster healing of injuries and scarring, better rest and sleep, relief from pain and stiffness due to arthritis, and more!
Want to see my LMT website for a list of modalities and prices I offer?
Want to see the rest of the laws from our PA State Board of Massage Therapy?
Thank you for reading!
-Jillian (LMT #MSG007989)