Massage Therapy Schools in Idaho: Getting off to a Solid Start
Statewide educational standards have not been in place long in Idaho. Still, the state has a number of massage therapy schools which meet or exceed generally regarded standards. Some of these schools have histories that go back many decades. Idaho massage therapy students can find everything they need to get their careers off to a solid start.
Select an Idaho Massage Therapy School Topic:
- Idaho Massage Therapy Program Requirements
- Massage Therapy Program Options
- After Graduation: Massage Therapist Career
- Massage Therapist License Requirements in Idaho
Idaho Massage Therapy Program Requirements
An Idaho student will need to pursue at least 500 hours of training through an approved school. In order to be considered approved, an Idaho program must include sufficient coursework in required content areas. Idaho code mandates that massage therapy schools include the following:
- 125 hours of body systems coursework (to include anatomy, physiology, kinesiology)
- 200 hours of assessment, theory, and application of massage and bodywork
- 40 hours of pathology
- 25 hours of ethics and business
These are very similar to the minimum requirements to be issued a code by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork; assignment of an NCBTMB test code is not tied to licensure in Idaho but is advantageous in many jurisdictions. The similarity between Idaho and national standards may reflect that licensing was instituted relatively recently in Idaho. There are some differences. The NCBTMB sets the ethics and business requirement at ten hours, requiring that six hours be in ethics.
Massage therapy students will find that business does its place in the curriculum. Nationwide, many massage therapists are self-proprietors. East Idaho News recently profiled a work-from-home massage therapist (https://www.eastidahonews.com/2017/05/east-idahoans-reap-benefits-working-home/).
An Idaho student will have at least 110 hours of clinical work. This is defined as appropriately supervised work in a classroom setting. The clinical portion will not begin until such time as students have completed at least 20% of their required instruction. The 110 hour requirement is Idaho-specific – it is not listed among requirements for assignment of an NCBTMB code. (NCBTMB programs, on the other hand, are expected to include 125 hours that theoretically complete the program—this leaves some leeway.)
Massage Therapy Program Options
Idaho boasts 11 assigned programs. The majority are at schools specifically focused on massage or holistic studies. There are also college-based programs. Idaho State University has an associate’s degree option, one that articulates into a bachelor’s program. Prior to enrolling in the associate’s program, students take an exploratory course.
One Idaho program is hospital-based. Programs do not necessarily require a high level of academic proficiency, but a high school diploma or GED is a licensing requirement, and students will typically be expected to produce it at the time of application.
Idaho massage therapy programs are, for the most part, generalist but may place some level of emphasis on a particular aspect of massage. There is often a set sequence of courses. The program may emphasize Swedish massage (a very common modality which forms the basis of Western massage) or may incorporate a variety of modalities, for example, side lying massage, trigger point therapy, and chair massage.
The massage therapy curriculum may be tied to a general philosophy of holistic health. It may incorporate energy work. There may be some extras that are not strictly speaking massage. A program may, for example, provide an introduction to non-medical treatments which are commonly provided in a spa setting. Some Idaho programs, on the other hand, emphasize medical/ clinical massage.
The program may include an internship experience. Any work performed by student massage therapists must meet supervision requirements described in state code.
Programs may go considerably above the required hours. Conversely, the student may enroll in a core program of not much above the minimum and then take additional elective courses as desired. Massage schools often boast a wide array of courses that may be taken as continuing education. After all, there is a difference between the training needed for safe, competent practice and the training needed to excel. The Idaho Board characterizes the 500 hours described as “entry-level”.
One reason people sometimes opt for additional coursework: to attempt the national board certification examination. Although programs as short as 500 hours may have NCBTMB codes, a student must have a total of 750 hours of education to achieve certification. (Certification is not necessary for Idaho licensure, but the certification examination may be used for licensing purposes; it is one of two options noted in state code.)
Geography will of course be a factor for some. Idaho massage schools, though, sometimes provide student housing.
An Idaho program is to be registered according to state code. An out-of-state massage therapy program that includes the required instruction and clinical hours can be accepted if hold appropriate status in its own jurisdiction.
Massage Therapy Salary in Idaho
The median salary for an Idaho massage therapist is $18.48 an hour or $38,450 a year. Wages are highly variable, but approximately half the state’s workers make between $15.43 and $25.08 an hour. Those at the 10th percentile earn $9.65 an hour; those at the 90th, $29.95.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported salary information for two major Idaho metropolitan districts. Median salaries are very similar in Boise City and Idaho Falls ($21.54 and $21.74 respectively). However, there is a significant difference between jurisdictions with regard to workers at the 10th percentile. In Boise City, the 10th percentile wage is $12.75; in Idaho Falls, it is only $9.32. The job concentration is somewhat higher for Idaho Falls than Boise City.
Nationwide, the massage therapy profession is expected to grow much faster than the occupational average. Idaho is one of several states where no BLS data has been released. A job search in mid-2017, though, reveals a number of Colorado employers advertising for massage therapists. Among them are chiropractors, spas, and massage franchises.
Employers may help one develop their skills, offering training in signature therapies, sometimes even paying for specialized certifications. Massage school experiences, though, can be fundamental to landing that first (good) job.