The Fitness Zone
By Chris Bennett, WA Massage Master Coach (BHSc MST, Dip Remedial Massage Therapy)
For those considering becoming a massage therapist, here are 6 major benefits of a massage therapy career that might cement your choice:
1. High standard of teaching / education.
In Australia 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 massage industry is well regulated, 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 practicing 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 consultation with industry, 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 Australian Institute of Fitness is a good 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 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.
2. Low set up costs
The cost of setting up a massage business is surprisingly little. To get started as a massage therapist, there are two main expenses to consider.
The first is massage equipment. The following would need to be acquired as a minimum: A massage table, at $400 for a good portable table, or up to $2,500 for a quality electric table. Other expenses might include a bolster, towels, stools, oils and lotions, a small sound system to play relaxation music and possibly a massage chair if you wish to do seated massage treatments. The total cost for these accessories, including the chair should be around $700. Even adding the cost of business cards, registration and professional indemnity insurance, we are looking at a start-up cost of well under $5,000. And most, if not all of these costs will be tax deductable (from massage related income – best to check with your accountant).
3. Good income potential.
The second is room rental. This would be 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 private practice a massage therapist 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 $1500 to $2,500 a week. Even 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 get experience. Working for someone you would 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 and other expenses.
4. Great variety of work opportunities.
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; massage at events such as triathlons, Ironman and cycling events; or work as a massage therapist at your local gym. And it’s not just athletes who can benefit from regular massage. Everybody 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.
5. Never-ending areas of specialty.
There are endless opportunities for learning and continuing education, so you will never be bored. All massage registering bodies require that its members 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, shaitsu, dry needling, soft tissue release, joint mobilisation, etc. – the list is endless.
6. It is rewarding!
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 head ache 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.
Massage is a skill you will never lose, whether you chose to treat 3-4 friends and/or family members a week or have a busy practice with 30 or more clients a week. It is a profession where you can continue to practice and grow, even in advanced years.