Massage Therapy Schools in Connecticut

Connecticut has a lot to offer future massage therapists from quality schools to positions with solid incomes. Connecticut is very specific about the type of education that its massage practitioners pursue. The path, though, is relatively short.

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Meeting Educational Standards

Connecticut bases its approval process on the approval of national standard setters. In order to be license-qualifying, massage therapy schools must be assigned codes by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. There are seven assigned schools in Connecticut — a large number for such a small state. Approved schools are housed in different types of schools. One is at a community college. Several are in technical or career institutes (including one at a career institute that is focused on beauty and aesthetics). Several are at branches of a massage therapy institute.

Massage therapy programs do not have to be Connecticut-based. All schools, whether located in Connecticut or another state, need an additional accreditation or approval beyond that of the NCBTMB. They can be accepted if they are accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), a national accrediting agency specifically for massage therapy, or are accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. A massage therapy school may instead be licensed by the board in its state that licenses post-secondary trade and technical schools.

According to Connecticut state code, programs must be 500 hours. Programs are often longer. One possible reason: NCBTMB certification has evolved. In order to actually become certified through the NCBTMB, a graduate must have 750 hours of approved education and training. The Board certification examination isn’t a licensing requirement in Connecticut – there’s another examination option – but students at assigned schools often do want that extra credential. If the initial program is 500 hours, that’s sufficient for eventual certification; some students take additional classes post-graduation.

An NCBTMB-assigned school must teach the following minimum curriculum:

  • 125 hours of body systems/ anatomy/ physiology/ kinesiology
  • 40 hours of pathology
  • 200 hours of supervised instruction
  • 10 hours of business and ethics

Qualifying supervised instruction takes place in class.

Even the basic 500 hour programs are allowed 125 hours of discretionary curriculum.

Assigned schools that are non-accredited submit additional materials to verify the legitimacy and quality of their programs. (Those that are accredited have already gone through a rigorous process.)

What differentiates one program from another?

What differentiates one program from another besides reputation and examination pass rate? Partly it is the type of massage that is emphasized. There are many bodywork modalities, Eastern and Western. A massage therapy program may provide training in a number of common modalities such as acupressure, Swedish massage, and deep tissue. Some massage modalities are designed to achieve specific physiologic effects. Others like chair massage, are designed with practicalities in mind.

A program may have a particular focus. It’s not necessarily a problem, though, if one can’t find the philosophy or modality that he or she finds most compelling in an initial track at a local school. Massage therapy is a career where one doesn’t do their training all at once. The foundation should be there: A reputable program should, for example, include adequate training in contraindications and cautions. If one wants to learn the most effective methods for working with people with cancer, though, they may need more training.

Programs may have public clinics where soon-to-be massage therapists practice their skills. They may have career services to help students find positions that match their unique skill set. Massage programs are not necessarily academic in the traditional sense. Even a community college program may be offered non-credit. This is not the case with all programs nationwide. In fact, while a certificate is the norm, there are some programs that are offered at the associate’s level.

Depending on program, there may be various financial aid options, including the Workforce Opportunity Investment Act, or WOIA; this is designed to help individuals retrain for new careers when they might not otherwise be able to access needed services.

Career Outlook and Salary

Connecticut has one of the highest concentrations of massage therapists in the nation (as measured by employment per 1,000 total jobs). Job concentration is highest in the Norwich-New London-Westerly area which spans portions of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Total employment levels are significantly higher in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk and Hartford areas, however.

Connecticut massage therapist wages are above the national average as well. The average hourly wage was $21.32 in May of 2016. The median hourly wage for massage therapists ranges from $17.02 in Waterbury to $22.80 in the Hartford area. There can be a significant difference between salary distribution even when the median is fairly similar. In some municipalities, there are a number of low-wage massage therapists, but there is also significant potential for skilled therapists to earn high incomes. In the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area, massage therapists at the 10th percentile earn just $9.93 an hour, but those at the 90th percentile make $45.88. In the New Haven area, those at the 10th percentile make a more solid $12.81; 90th percentile wages, though are just $30.92.

Connecticut massage therapist employment has been projected to increase 19.8% between 2014 and 2024, from a base of 2,320 to a future 2,780.

Sources: BLS Data CT

Narrowing it Down

Massage Schools in Hartford, CT

Massage School in Bridgeport, CT

Massage School in New Haven, CT

Massage Therapy License in Connecticut