Massage Therapy Schools in Florida: High Standards and Diverse Options Abound
Those considering massage therapy school in Florida will find high standards and plenty of diverse options. No matter where students go to massage school in the Sunshine State, they will have the same basic curriculum. The program may, however, include any number of extras.
Select a Florida Massage Therapy School Topic:
- Florida Massage Therapy School Requirements
- Program Options
- Massage Therapy License Requirements in Florida
- Beyond Massage School: Salary and Career Development
Florida Massage Therapy School Requirements
Florida massage schools go through a multi-step approval process. The Florida Board requires documentation that trade schools have been approved or licensed by the Department of Education/Commission for Independent Education. (If the school is within the public school system, it is considered to have met an equivalent requirement.)
In order to receive approval, schools must teach the state-mandated curriculum. A student can expect, at minimum, the following:
- Anatomy and physiology: 150 hours
- Massage theory/ history: 100 hours
- Allied modalities: 76 hours
- Practicum: 125 hours
- Hydrotherapy: 15 hours
- Business: 15 hours
- Ethics: 4 hours
- Florida laws and rules: 10 hours
- HIV/ AIDS: 3 hours
- Medical errors: 2 hours
Mandated subject hours add up to 500 hours, which is the minimum program length in Florida (and in many other states around the nation). However, Florida does mandate some content that is not universally required and sets the anatomy and physiology requirement a little higher than in some areas.
Prospective students will be glad to know that the Florida Board does some monitoring of outcomes (https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ruleno.asp?id=64B7-32.003&Section=0). If a program falls below the expected level two years in a row with regard to first-time licensing examination pass rates, it may be placed on probation; a remedial plan may also be required. (The expected level is no less than 10 percentage points less than the average of comparable Board-approved programs.)
Schools in other states must have the approval of the Department of Education or other appropriate entity; the course of study must be no less than 500 hours (http://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/licensing/licensed-massage-therapist-lmt-by-examination/).
A prospective student will find a list of approved massage therapy schools linked to from the Board’s FAQs page (http://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/education-program-faqs). One of the first things that’s apparent: There are many! Massage therapy schools are located in cities and towns throughout the state: Daytona Beach, Winter Haven, Pinnelas Park, Coconut Park, Hialeah.
If one doesn’t live in a remote area and doesn’t know people who have attended a particular school and raved about it, how does one choose?
A prospective student may wish to consider the program’s status with other standard setters. Three are 29 Florida programs that hold membership in the American Massage Therapy Association, or AMTA (https://www.amtamassage.org/schools). Accreditation by nationally recognized organizations is added validation of quality, one that is important in some jurisdictions. Some Florida programs are accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation, or COMTA (https://comta.org/). Some hold other recognized accreditation.
Massage schools are also differentiated by philosophy; the mission may be to incorporate the latest medical research — or the traditions of various ancient cultures. Programs emphasize different treatment approaches and modalities, whether for medical purposes or for the purpose of appealing to particular populations. One will find Florida schools that emphasize everything from using neurosomatic therapy to alleviate pain to combining massage with esthetics and facials; the latter is among those that might prove useful in a spa setting.
Florida programs can have as few as 500 hours of instruction, but some provide 1,200 hours or more. Programs may award a certificate or diploma or even an associate’s degree. A variety of courses can complement one’s practice, from technique to business and communications; massage therapists are often sole proprietors and sometimes utilize unique business approaches such as traveling to the client. Massage therapy certificate programs can typically be completed in less than a year. An intensive 500 hour program may be completed in as little as four months. Some students opt for part-time schedules, taking a couple of years to complete a relatively short program. Students sometimes choose to pursue other complementary practices, for example, yoga teaching.
Massage therapy, though, is not a field where students do all their schooling at the start. Some students enroll in additional voluntary certificate programs later with the intent of learning new modalities. They may choose to enhance their practice in other ways. Florida’s Touch Institute teaches short workshops in how to carry out massage therapy research, thus enhancing the profession as well as one’s own career. Touch Institute research in pregnancy and infant massage has been cited in Massage Magazine (https://www.massagemag.com/resource-centers/online-prenatal-education/).
Certificate programs do not typically ask for particularly strong academic backgrounds – a high school diploma will suffice. However, a prospective student may need to go through an interview to demonstrate aptitude/ suitability.
Salary and Career Outlook
Florida massage therapists earn a median wage of $18.46, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages are highly variable. 25% earn below $14.53 while another 25% earn above $24.68.
Employment concentration is greatest in the North Port/ Sarasota/ Bradenton metropolitan area and the West Palm Beach/ Boca Raton/ Delray Beach areas (https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319011.htm). Both these areas have median wages a little above the state average. When measured by sheer numbers, the Miami/ Fort Lauderdale area, not surprisingly, comes out on top.
The following are median hourly wages for major metropolitan areas in Florida (https://data.bls.gov/oes/#/home):
- West Palm Beach/ Boca Raton/ Delray Beach: $20.76
- Fort Lauderdale/ Pompano Beach/ Deerfield Beach: $19.28
- Miami/ Fort Lauderdale/ West Palm Beach: $18.63
- Orlando/ Kissimmee/ Sanford: $18.19
- Tampa/ St. Petersburg/ Clearwater: $17.46
Massage therapy employment in Florida has been projected to grow an impressive 28.9% between 2014 and 2024 (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm).