A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in Alabama: High Standards for Massage Therapy

Alabama sets high standards for massage therapy – and for massage therapy education. Alabama not only approves massage therapy schools but registers instructors. The total requirement for educational hours is a little above the national norm, but programs can still be completed in well under a year. Some students choose to take longer, either because they want a broader and deeper education or because they need a relaxed part-time pace to meet work or family responsibilities.

Alabama programs are at least 650 hours. Students are expected to select Board-recognized schools. Prospective students can do a program search on the Board website (http://www.almtbd.state.al.us/licensee.aspx). Alabama does have provisions in place for consideration of out-of-state education and credentials, but these applications are subject to careful scrutiny by the Board.

Select an Alabama Massage Therapy School Topic:

The Alabama Massage Therapy School Curriculum

The program will include at least 100 hours of anatomy and physiology distributed in a manner identified in state code. The school will devote 35 hours to myology, 15 hours to osteology, and 10 each to the circulatory and nervous systems. (The individual school will decide how to allot the remaining hours.)

No fewer than 250 hours will be devoted to basic massage theory and closely related subject matter; this coursework will include contradistictions as well as other touch modalities that are related to massage. At least 50 hours will be devoted to supervised practice.

The school will allot 50 hours to other state-identified topics. Among these are the following: hydrotherapy, business, ethics, and first aid.

Under current law, 250 hours are left to the discretion of the individual school. This means that Alabama-approved massage schools can be varied indeed. Some schools include more than the required 650 hours, allowing for even more in-depth coverage of massage-related topics.

Massage Therapy Program Options in Alabama

Some Alabama massage therapy programs are closer to a typical college experience than others. Programs offered by community colleges are not always offered on a for-credit basis. Sometimes they are, however, and the student may even have the choice of whether to pursue a certificate or diploma or an associate’s degree.

While state law specifies minimum experience for massage therapy schools, some of course far exceed this. One Alabama school, for example, boasts 25 years of experience on the part of its instructors.

Some Alabama schools offer specialized or advanced coursework designed for healthcare practitioners. The school may, for example, offer an advanced certificate in neuromuscular therapy.

State law mandates a little coursework in business practice and in therapies that utilize water. Some students, though, want to take it further. There is, after all, plenty of room for innovation, whether one is interested in providing relief from serious physical ailments, creating a staycation experience that rivals vacation, or doing some combination of the two. Birmingham Magazine recently featured five local spas and their signature treatments (http://www.al.com/bhammag/index.ssf/2016/08/check_out_these_5_great_spas_i.html). One offered a poultice massage that used local herbs; another had developed a Southern peach treatment that incorporated peach products into massage and other services, another, a full body treatment that included both a warm stone/ lavender-infused massage and a foot and pressure point scalp massage.

Massage Therapy Education for Advanced Credentialing

Most Alabama massage therapy schools have been assigned codes by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Historically, there has been a strong relationship between NCBTMB processes and Alabama credentialing, though Alabama has not “upped” its licensing requirements to match those of the new NCBTMB certification. NCBTMB certification is, at this point, intended in most places nationwide to reflect a higher level of professional expertise than licensing. A person who seeks board certification will complete 750 total hours of education. Some education can be accrued through college coursework or through continuing education that has been explicitly approved by the NCBTMB. Alabama does not have as many NCBTMB CE providers as initial programs but there are opportunities to do blocks of courses in areas like postural analysis or the myofascial system. Massage therapists who wish to pursue significant additional training sometimes travel to conferences; Alabama massage therapists can use search tools found on the NCBTMB website.

There are other types of advanced credentialing. Alabama law sets educational requirements for massage therapists who wish to provide massage therapy for animals. This training is considered post-graduate. The massage therapist will need training that is geared to the specific type of animal.

Beyond Massage School: Salary and Career Outlook

The number of massage therapists in Alabama may be low compared to the average state, but it is on the rise. Alabama has been projected to see 19.2% growth in massage therapist employment levels across the 2014 to 2024 decade (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm). Job concentration is higher in Huntsville than in the state as a whole.

The median hourly wage for an Alabama massage therapist was $13.24 in 2016; the mean, a much higher $16.34. Four out of five of the state’s massage therapists made between $8.28 and $28.20 an hour (with the remainder evenly split between those who were below this range and those who were above). The Bureau of Labor Statistics has provided salary information for three Alabama metropolises. The hourly median is just $12.80 in Huntsville, as compared to $17.69 in Mobile and $21.03 in Montgomery. There is a significant difference in what massage therapists at the upper end of the wage continuum are making in these districts. In Mobile, massage therapists at the 90th percentile bring in $39.09. Those at the 90th percentile in Hunstville, meanwhile, make $18.07. This does not mean that a massage therapist in Huntsville can’t go higher than $18.07 – some are. Massage therapy is a career where people have often carved out their own opportunities.

Training in treatment of clinical health conditions, training in research, training in forging business relationships… it all has its place. Some Alabama practitioners are interested in education that will help them build the profession as well as their own individual career.