A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in Georgia: Often completed in well under a year

The opening of a new neuromuscular massage therapist program was highlighted in early 2017 by Valdosta Today (http://valdostatoday.com/2017/02/wiregrass-announces-new-neuromuscular-massage-therapy-program) *The article noted that the program met an unmet need in the school’s service area; the dean is quoted as saying that local positions were going unfilled due to lack of a trained workforce.

Massage therapy is a licensed profession. Massage therapists in Georgia, like those in most other states, must meet a specific set of standards, even when demand for services is high. This means completing approved career programs. Would-be massage therapists aren't necessarily in school a long time, though. They may earn a certificate or diploma instead of a degree. Programs can often be completed in well under a year.

Select a Georgia Massage Therapy School Topic:

Georgia Massage Therapy Educational Standards

Georgia requires prospective massage therapists to complete programs of at least 500 hours. Schools are to be explicitly approved by the Board. A good starting place to search for programs is the Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission for Private Career Schools (https://gnpec.org).

Georgia students enjoy quality standards set at the state level. Georgia requires massage therapy schools to provide student handbooks and maintain adequate student records. Instructors must meet minimum standards set down in state code. Georgia places limits on class size for practical learning though not lecture. The state has set the following curricular requirements:

  • 125 hours of body systems coursework
  • 200 hours of theory, technique, and practice
  • 40 hours of coursework in pathology
  • 10 total hours of ethics and business, with at least 6 in ethics
  • 125 hours in other Board-identified topics

A number of specific techniques will be covered, among them, effleurage or gliding, tapotement or percussion, petrissage or kneading, stretching, and superficial warming.

The following are among the topics identified as fundamental: benefits and contraindications, modesty and draping, client data collection, and therapeutic relationships.

The student will need 50 hours of supervised clinical practice. The licensing agency can credit no more than 60 hours of supervised practice in a basic 500 hour program. Schools are allowed to offer longer practical experiences, though; in order to do so, they need to increase total program length.

Massage Therapy Program Options

There is far more to distinguish one program from another even than the number of practical hours that it offers. Programs may cover more than just traditional western massage. Some programs include reflexology as well as various forms of bodywork that are designed to influence the body’s energy systems. The school may offer students the opportunity to earn certification in multiple modalities.

While massage therapists have not traditionally trained at the associate’s level, Georgia does make it an option. The associate’s program may offer more career-focused coursework as well as general studies. One Georgia school, for example, offers an associate degree in massage and natural health.

Schools are also distinguished by their philosophies. These guiding philosophies may include more than theories of massage or even physical wellness; at least one Georgia school boasts its green practices and sustainability efforts. Schools may also boast instructor credentials that go far beyond the minimums described in state code. Some schools are not only state-approved but nationally accredited through recognized organizations such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Students may qualify for traditional financial aid.

Education for Adjunct Credentialing

The contact hour requirements in most categories match those set by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork for assignment of a test code. In most parts of the nation, it is not necessary for a program to have a code in order to be license-qualifying. The code, though, allows a person to test for a prestigious adjunct credential. Georgia boasts 24 assigned schools -- among the highest in the nation. By enrolling in an assigned program a student takes the first of several steps necessary to become a board certified massage therapist.

The total educational requirement for option board certification is 750 hours. If the qualifying program was between 500 hours and 750 hours, the difference can be made up through college coursework or NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses. The state’s massage schools provide plenty of CE options; so do other approved providers. There’s something for just about everyone: polarity therapy, muscle traction, trigger point and medical massage, diabetic massage, hospice massage, TMJ dysfunction, integrated restoration techniques. Some courses are just a few hours. Massage therapists may, however, pursue blocks of 30 to 50 hours in topics such as reiki, neuromuscular therapy, or Thai yoga therapy; school may even offer several related blocks, allowing students to explore modalities in relation to specific areas of the body.

Does one have to be on the journey to board certification to enroll in additional training? No. One just has to be on the path to become a more adept practitioner.

Career Outlook and Average Salary

Georgia massage therapist employment levels have been projected to increase by 22.4% between 2014 and 2024 (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm).

In Georgia, the median massage therapist wage is $15.62 an hour. There's quite a range of possible wages. 80% of the state’s massage therapists make between $8.02 and $26.44. 10%, though, fall on either end of this range.

Location within the state is one factor that influences earnings. In the Atlanta area, the median is $15.57. In the Savannah area, it is $13.07. The lowest salaries in the state are in the Augusta/ Richmond County area. Here the median is just $9.64. Those at the 10th percentile and 25th percentile (e.g. those closer to the entry-level) make salaries comparable to those of their counterparts in other parts of the state, though, and 10% make over $23.47. This is one area of the state where one may want to strive to be in the upper half salary-wise; between the 50th and 75th percentile, wages go markedly upwards.