A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in Illinois

Illinois sets massage therapy educational standards a little above what is commonly regarded as the national standard. However, the requirements are well within the limit of what many massage therapy programs do cover. Students who attend approved in-state massage schools can expect to meet foundational requirements. Out-of-state students may well meet them, too -- but they could end up needing to do a little more study at an Illinois massage school.

Select an Illinois Massage Therapy School Topic:

Standards for Illinois Massage Therapy Schools

Illinois has set a minimum massage therapy training requirement of 600 hours. The course of study must include required content identified by the Board. Whatever program they opt for, students will need to score no less than 70% on required courses – this is set down in state regulation.

A student who chooses an Illinois massage therapy school will know that it meets standards described in Title 68 of state code (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/068/068012840000200R.html). The instructors will be professionals who are experienced in their fields or, in the case of courses like anatomy and pathology, academic degree holders. The massage therapy school will provide written handbook and syllabi as well as a course philosophy. Illinois sets a maximum instructor-student ratio of but some programs choose to go far lower!

One content area is comprised of body sciences coursework (anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology). Another includes theories, techniques, and practice. The third major content area includes many areas necessary for safe and professional practice, among them, universal precautions, body mechanics, massage contraindications, therapeutic relations, and modesty/ draping.

Massage Therapy Program Options

Illinois students can choose from a diverse set of programs. Many are housed at community colleges. Others are housed in career or vocational schools. The main focus of the sponsoring institution may be wellness or beauty and aesthetics; some massage schools are stand-alone.

Students may want to consider programs that have been evaluated by national massage therapy organizations such as the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA). There can be benefits to attending schools that are members of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). Illinois has 25 AMTA-approved massage therapy schools and is able to provide basic information such as accreditation (https://www.amtamassage.org/schools/index.html).

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is another respected national organization. If a program is 750 hours and has been assigned a code by the NCBTMB, students are well on their way to meeting qualifications for adjunct national board certification. Some NCBTMB-assigned schools have a curriculum less than 750 hours. That just means the student will have to pursue some additional coursework on his or her own. There are plenty of offerings. Some students opt for advanced certifications down the road. Options include bodywork modalities commonly employed in spa settings and those used in traditional Chinese medicine. Illinois has 36 assigned schools (http://www.ncbtmb.org/tools/find-approved-school).

Many programs are in the six to twelve month range. Some are significantly longer and are completed in conjunction with an associate’s degree.

The curriculum may be organized in different ways. While Illinois licensing code references particularly techniques that may be covered (i.e. compression, stretching, percussion, effleurage/gliding), schools may organize their curriculum by modalities or groups of modalities. There may, for example, be separate courses in Eastern and Western modalities. Eastern bodywork includes modalities like shiatsu and acupressure. The school will not necessarily go into depth on underlying philosophies -- but some do. Some programs emphasize philosophies of wellness that draw deeply from particular traditions. The program may include other supportive coursework such as diet and nutrition or aromatherapy.

The massage school may offer various fieldwork and internship opportunities. Often this means work performed at a student clinic. However, this is not the only possibility. Students at the Soma Institute, for example, have the opportunity to work with NCAA Division 1 athletes.

Out-of-State Massage Therapy Schools

Out-of-state education may be accepted if the requirements of the other jurisdiction are "substantially similar" (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/068/068012840000200R.html). What of those who have attended schools in other jurisdictions that include curriculums that aren’t quite up to Illinois standards? They may be re-allowed to enroll in a massage therapy program to make up deficiencies.

After Graduation: Salary and Career Outlook

Massage therapy employment in Illinois has been projected to increase 16.3% between 2014 and 2024 (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm). This is lower than the national average for massage therapy, but still places it in the “much faster than average” category of job growth (https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2015/article/occupational-employment-projections-to-2024.htm).

Illinois massage therapists enjoy a median hourly wage of $19.23. Those at the 25th percentile earn $12.95. Those at the 75th percentile earn $28.74.

The Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division is fifth in the nation with regard to massage therapist employment levels; this is based on total numbers.

Median massage therapy wages in the Chicago area are almost identical to what is reported for the state as a whole -- $19.24. The highest paying metropolitan area in Illinois, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is Rockford; there the median is $26.29 per hour. Springfield is not far behind, as is the Lake County-Kenosha County metropolitan area; workers in those areas average $25.97 and $25.75 respectively.

The median salary in some nonmetropolitan areas is considerably lower. In the Northwest Illinois nonmetropolitan area, it is $13.01; in the West Central Illinois nonmetropolitan area,$13.04. These figures are based on relatively low numbers of wage earners.

Those at the 10th percentile mark make approximately $9.00 to $10.00 per hour in most Illinois districts. Again, the Rockford area tops the list at $11.68.

Those who need help financing their new career may find many options; opportunities depend on choice of program and individual circumstances. Those who are coming from a field that's not as hot – and who find themselves on unemployment -- may be eligible for WIOA assistance.