This article was originally written by Chris Bennett, WA Massage Master Coach and has since been updated by the AIF Communications team.
Massage is a valuable skill you will never lose, whether you choose to treat a handful of friends and/or family members per week or have a busy practice with 30 or more weekly clients. It is a profession where you can continue to practice and grow, even in advanced years.
Some qualified massage therapists go on to work in fitness studios/gyms, on cruise ships, at spas, within hotels or even start their own own practice. Some go on to further their education as a Remedial Massage Therapist, allowing them to work in with sports teams or in a Remedial Massage clinic.
If you are currently considering if a career in massage therapy is for you or are debating where you want your career to take you, these six major benefits of a massage therapy career might just cement your choice.
There is a high standard of tuition available in Massage and Remedial Therapy – provided you are trained at the right Registered Training Organisation (RTO) – in Australia.
The Australian massage industry is well-regulated, and its scope and standards of practice are determined by regulating bodies such as the Association of Massage Therapists (AMT) and the Massage and Myotherapy Association (MAMA). Insurance providers, such as Medibank Private, also monitor the standards of practising massage therapists in the industry.
The Remedial Massage Health Training Package is written and published by the Education Department (Australian government) which determines the competencies and learning outcomes that all RTOs must meet when they write and deliver their Remedial Massage courses. In the writing of the health packages, feedback from registering bodies (such as the AMT and MAMA) as well as insurance providers are taken into account to ensure currency, relevance and the highest possible standards of education are being delivered by the RTOs. The RTOs are also audited on a regular basis to ensure these standards are being met and maintained.
The cost of setting up a massage business is surprisingly low. To get started as a massage therapist, there are two main expenses to consider.
The first is the massage equipment. The following would need to be acquired as a minimum: A good, portable massage table will cost around $400 but it is possible to spend upwards of $2,500 for a quality electric table.
Other expenses might include a bolster, towels, stools, oils and lotions, a small sound system to play relaxing music and a massage chair if you wish to do seated massage treatments. The total cost for these accessories, including the chair would be around $700. Even adding the cost of business cards, registration and professional indemnity insurance, you are looking at a start-up cost of well under $5,000. And most, if not all, of these costs will be tax-deductible from your massage related income. But we recommend checking with your accountant to be sure.
The second is room rental. This cost is variable depending on many factors ranging from the location of the premises and the size of the room to what services are included (e.g. secretary, heating, etc.). Whatever the rental cost, it would need to be offset by client fees so that it can be met each week.
In a private practice setting, massage therapists can charge $80 – $90 per hour or more. It may take a while to build up to 20 or 30 clients per week which would give a potential gross income of $1,500 to $2,500 a week. Deducting room rental and other outgoings of, say $500 a week would give you a potential earning of $1,000 to $2,000 a week before tax.
Many massage therapists prefer to work for someone else, especially when they are starting out and wish to gain experience. Working for someone you can expect to earn between $30 and $55 an hour, however, you would only be paid for the clients you actually see. On the plus side, you would not be paying rent, secretarial costs or other expenses.
There are many varieties of massage specialisations and different applications of massage to add interest to your massage career. For example, sports massage is very popular and there are opportunities to: work with professional sporting teams and clubs such as rugby, soccer, football, basketball and tennis; conduct massage at events such as triathlons, Ironman and cycling events; or work as a massage therapist in your local gym. And it’s not just athletes who benefit from regular massage. Anybody can, whether it be for relaxation, stress management, enhancing performance or rehabilitation.
There are also opportunities for massage therapists to work in hospitals and nursing homes, in a corporate environment or in a practice alongside physiotherapists or chiropractors.
There are endless opportunities for learning and continuing education, so you can continue to grow in your chosen specialty. All massage registering bodies require its members to participate in continuing education to maintain currency. You may have received training at your massage school in relaxation massage, deep tissue massage and trigger point therapy. When you graduate you could upgrade your skills to include myofascial release or even structural integration, manual lymphatic drainage, pregnancy massage, corporate massage, shiatsu, dry needling, soft tissue release, joint mobilisation, etc. – the possibilities are endless.
Perhaps more important than all these benefits of being a massage therapist is the one underlying benefit that you are making a positive contribution to people’s lives. The beauty of working in this industry is that you usually get positive feedback almost immediately after giving your client a massage treatment. It is so rewarding to have a client get up from the massage table after their treatment and tell you that their neck, back pain or headache is gone or greatly relieved, or for an athlete to report back to you that they have improved their running time, increased their deadlift or swam a new PB in the 400m freestyle as a result of the massage treatments you have been giving them.
There are so many incredible benefits to a career in massage and if you kickstart your career on the right foot with a quality education, you’ll have the best possible chance at experiencing all of these benefits for yourself.
The Australian Institute of Fitness is an example of an RTO that maintains a consistently high standard of curriculum content and delivery across all its regional branches. In WA, for example, the combined massage industry experience of the members of the Massage Training Team is over 75 years, which goes a long way to ensuring that the standard of the student graduates is second to none.
Learn more about a career in massage with the Australian Institute of Fitness here.