Massage Therapy School in Chicago

How much respect can massage therapy command in the Chicago area? For an answer, one can turn to the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. The Osher Center, which operates under the banner of Northwestern University, counts massage therapy among the integrative services it offers the public ( The Center also uses research to inform the public that there’s value in this type of treatment. Among its major areas of research focus is ‘Studying Traditions of Acupuncture, Bodywork, and Life-force Energy’, or STABLE.

Here, too, there are many career tracks. The Soma Institute lists the following among their graduates’ careers paths: hospital settings, physical therapy settings, neonatal practice, and geriatric practice. This is in in addition to spas, chiropractic offices, and private practice — what we may think of as classic massage therapy settings. Pacific College also notes a wide variety of settings, including cancer centers and sports medicine clinics.

Popular Massage Therapy Schools in Chicago

The Soma Institute offers a diploma in clinical massage therapy. Myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and manual lymphatic drainage are among the modalities covered. The Soma Institute states that it can’t guarantee graduate placement, but does drop names of places where grads have found work, among them, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, The Four Seasons, and the Joffrey Ballet.

The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine offers a 675-hour certificate in massage/ Asian bodywork. Tui Na, Shiatsu, and Thai massage are among the Asian bodywork modalities covered. The Pacific College is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Morton College offers students a choice of a career certificate or an Associate of Applied Science in Therapeutic Massage. Both include three courses in therapeutic massage techniques. Students in the AAS program get two courses in advanced massage. The AAS degree program also includes some general studies courses.

The National University of Health Sciences in Lombard offers a certification course in massage and also offers graduate degrees in acupuncture, chiropractic care, naturopathy, and Oriental medicine. The school states that massage therapy students utilize an anatomy and physiology lab on a par with what medical students use. The National University of Health Sciences holds COMTA accreditation. AMTA lists the program hours at 705. The school touts its high examination pass rates.

The Marco Polo Massage Therapist School offers a 600-hour program. Students learn the fundamentals of massage therapy. Coursework in specialty modalities is designed to provide students with a level of familiarity and let them know which specialized modalities will require advanced training/ certification.

Therapeutic Massage

The Society for Oncology Massage notes multiple Chicago hospitals that offer massage to cancer patients. One will also find a number of smaller massage studios in the area advertising oncology massage.

Communities are beginning to recognize the importance of massage for other special populations. Some Chicago Land senior living communities include massage among their amenities. Geriatric massage, like oncology massage, is a specialty area.

Massage is of course commonly used to treat orthopedic and muscular issues. LMTs are often allied with chiropractors. They may also work with physical therapists and sports medicine professionals.

A massage therapist doesn’t have to work for a healthcare center to be part of healthcare. One local practice, for example, noted that referrals from physicians, chiropractors, and physical therapists were commonplace.

The Osher Center notes that therapeutic massage is a broad category. Massage can be considered therapeutic when it is based on client evaluation and client needs. Therapeutic massage can include any of many different styles: Shiatsu, trigger point, stretching, and even Swedish massage.

The Current Market

A spring 2019 job search turned up many diverse positions for LMTs. One could find just about everything represented and sought after in Chicago Land, even an LMT who was interested in becoming a flight attendant – yes, air-born massage! A physical therapy office, meanwhile, sought a bilingual English/ Polish LMT who could also serve as a rehab aide.

It was more common of course for companies to list desired modalities. Some were quite specific about needs, citing, for example, myofascial release, trigger point, and prenatal.

The University of Illinois-Chicago was looking for a massage therapist for its campus recreation center. There were many other wellness facilities, including chiropractic offices, fitness centers, and spas, in the market. Some businesses even identified themselves as combined fitness-spa centers.

Vive! Therapeutic Massage, an Illinois practice, stated that they had more than 20 LMTs onboard but were seeking additional experienced therapists who could communicate well with clients and customize their treatments.

Incorporate, a corporate chair massage company, was also among those advertising. The company had a 4.2 average rating on, which is quite good. Job seekers can turn to the website for company-specific information about how to pick up gigs and advance along the Incorporate career ladder.

Massage Therapist Wages

Massage therapists in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area made a median hourly wage of $21.84 in 2017. The mid-range was $15.39 to $28.16.

The job concentration is neither especially high nor especially low here. When one considers the number of people here, though, the picture changes — the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division is number five in the nation with regard to massage therapist job concentration.

If one’s the sort of person who prefers self-employment to employment, there’s also some bright news. A population like this can support plenty of massage therapists in very specialized niche areas. The big city tends to attract the big-name trainers. On the flip side, those big name trainers also attract one’s competitors. It’s important to stay current — and on the cutting edge.

Additional Resources

Illinois Massage Therapy License Requirements

Illinois Massage Schools