Massage Therapy in the District of Columbia: What to Know About Schools and Career Options
There is opportunity in the DC area for massage therapists, and that means more than just jobs! Massage therapists here have the opportunity to take their training to a high level and deliver evidenced based bodywork services.
In a big metropolitan area like DC, there are many niche areas from rehabilitation services to spa massage. From Columbia College comes an interesting tidbit about the spa industry: 90% of high-end spa packages include massage. There are a number of high-end spas in the area, part of the eclectic mix of organizations, clinical and nonclinical, that offer massage.
Massage therapists in the DC even have the opportunity to be involved in research if they desire. For those that don’t, there’s a tremendous value in observing clients and making skillful use of the hands.
Practicing in a Tri-State Metropolitan Area
A massage therapist in this area may want licensing in more than one jurisdiction. There are differences in practice that extend beyond the number of training hours.
Massage Therapy Schools in the District of Columbia and Vicinity
DC requires programs to include at least 500 hours of coursework, lower than neighboring Maryland. One will find multiple schools in the area which meet or exceed the 600 hours required for a Maryland massage practitioner credential.
Potomac Massage Training Institute (Silver Spring, Maryland) has been educating massage therapists for well over 40 years. They currently offer a 622-hour program, designed to be completed in 18 months. It is comprised of three segments, each of which includes lecture, lab, clinic, and fieldwork. Segment 1 fieldwork involves visiting a nursing home and learning to adapt massage for special needs. PMTI is accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA)
American Massage & Bodywork Institute (Vienna, Virginia) is also COMTA-accredited. The program is 700 hours.
Northern Virginia School of Therapeutic Massage (Falls Church) is NACCAS-accredited. The 600-hour curriculum includes 90 hours of medical/ clinical massage and 20 each of sports and deep tissue techniques. Students have some introduction to other modalities and systems of healing, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, reflexology, and hydrotherapy/ spa.
Columbia College (Silver Spring, Maryland) is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE). The program is 600 hours and can be completed in 30 weeks. It includes 100 hours of clinical practicum.
Hospitals in the area are not only providing therapeutic massage but carrying out research that can help guide care in other parts of the nation.
Healwell, a local nonprofit organization, has worked in partnership with more than one DC-area hospital to carry out research.
MedStar Washington Hospital and MedStar Research Institute received a grant to study massage in palliative care and help determine “effective dosages”.
Children’s National Medical Center has studied the efficacy of massage with pediatric oncology patients and found favorable results. Healwell reports the lead investigator is looking toward multi-site replication.
Massage therapists in this area have access to high-caliber oncology massage training through Healwell in Arlington.
Massage Magazine carried an article by two LMT/ instructors affiliated with Healwell. It provides insight into the complexities of providing hospital-based oncology care and the minimum standards needed to function within the system.
Massage in Healthcare Settings
Hospital massage is not limited to oncology. Massage at the Virginia Hospital Center is provided by The Teal Center. The Teal Center also operates out of another location.
It is common for massage therapists to work in healthcare offices, alongside professionals like chiropractors and physical therapists. Physical & Massage Therapy Associates, a small practice, currently lists two physical therapists, a physical therapy assistant, and a massage therapist. The website describes how different types of bodywork may support people’s needs: myofascial release for fascial restriction, connective tissue massage for conditions like fibromyalgia and post-surgical scarring, and trigger point release for spasm and pain.
The Center for Neuromuscular and Massage Therapy Rehabilitation notes a number of conditions where medical massage may be helpful, including arthritis, acute strain, TMJ dysfunction, and recovery from motor vehicle accident. They characterize medical massage as a service that is provided when a chiropractor or physical therapist determines that massage would be an effective part of the person’s treatment plan. There are other medical professionals who might determine the need for services. Quite a few practitioners do, and one will find a number of massage therapists in the DC area offering medical massage!
Massage at Spas, Studios, and Holistic Wellness Centers
The following are among the businesses that have put down roots in the DC area:
Deluca Massage & Bodywork touts its status as one of the oldest and largest massage practices in the area, in operation since 2000 and situated in a facility that includes 13 treatment rooms. There are 24 LMTs on the team.
Unwind Wellness Center has two locations. It boasts 16 massage therapists as well an acupuncturist and Reiki professional. Unwind Wellness Center touts its “best of DC” recognition.
Mustard Seed has two locations and 13 LMTs.
Some practices develop niches. Spa on the Hill counts among its specialties massage for different stages of pregnancy, including pre-conception.
Many LMTs are self-employed. Some work solo, some are part of teams, and some manage teams of their own.
Eye Street Massage Therapy has been in business well over 20 years. The owner is an LMT with national certification. Several of the other massage therapists also hold Board Certification. One will find many different modalities here, including Active Isolated Stretching, Abdominal Visceral Massage, and Myofacial Release. Medical massage is on the menu. There’s also relaxation massage and hot stone.
Revive is a partnership between two experienced and Board Certified massage therapists. They’re putting together a team.
Manifest Station is a well-rated small enterprise. The proprietor offers services at several other locations, including the Paradise Alexander Day Spa and Unwind Wellness Center.
Massage Therapist Salary
Massage therapists in the greater DC metropolitan area earned an average $19.05 an hour in 2018. The 10th percentile wage was just $9.00. At the 90th percentile, the wage rose to $27.64.