Massage Therapy Schools in Indiana: The Switch to Mandatory Licensing in Indiana
In 2017, Indiana is in the process of switching from voluntary certification of its massage therapists to mandatory licensing. One of the purposes is to curtail illegal activity — sex trafficking masquerading as massage – but many in the field are glad that the law will mandate competency as well as good intention. A massage therapist will need initial and continuing education.
While licensing of massage therapists is brand new in Indiana, massage therapy education is scarcely new. Indiana State began offering a massage minor 50 years ago. It’s in part because the Indiana State community loves sports that they also love massage, but these days there is increasing recognition of the many health benefits of massage — and a growing body of science to back it up. Indiana has well respected massage therapy schools to train the next generation.
Select an Indiana Massage Therapy School Topic:
- Educational Standards
- Considering the Perspectives of National Standard Setters
- Other Considerations When Choosing a Massage School
- Massage Therapy License Requirements in Indiana
- Beyond Massage School: Salary and Career Development
Indiana massage therapists must get their education from a massage therapy school that requires no fewer than 500 hours. The school must be authorized to operate in the state. Authority for some institutions was recently transferred between agencies. Schools that are not credit bearing are now under the jurisdiction of the Office for Career and Technical Schools (OCTS). A list of schools is available for download (http://www.in.gov/dwd/2731.htm). OCTS directs students who have questions about the validity of schools can contact OCTS at ‘OCTS at dwd.in.gov’.
An institution of higher education is considered authorized. An Indiana program may draw its authorization from the Indiana Commission of Proprietory Education (ICOPE).
A program in another state may be approved if it draws its authority from an appropriate source.
An Indiana massage therapy school will need to be in good standing with an organization that regulates massage therapy, whether at the state, national, or regional level.
Considering the Perspectives of National Standard Setters
Prospective students may want to give particular attention to massage therapy schools that have been reviewed by other organizations at the national level. This may enhance mobility as well as serving as an extra validation of program quality.
Nine schools have been assigned testing codes by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (https://www.ncbtmb.org/schools-students/). Students who complete NCBTMB-assigned schools will be able to test for adjunct board certification. If their program was less than 750 hours, though, they’ll need to take some extra classes before they qualify for certification. Board certification notably does not replace Indiana licensing – or licensing in any other state where it is mandatory. In an age where almost all states license, third party certification has been redesigned as a way of signaling practitioners who have a higher level of expertise.
Accreditation is separate. A massage therapy school may or may not hold a recognized national accreditation. National accreditation is more important in some states than others. Accreditation by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) is most closely associated with massage therapy education than any other (https://comta.org/).
Other Considerations When Choosing a Massage School
Indiana schools are known for different emphases, philosophies, and signature modalities or treatments. Indiana State’s massage therapy students may do their clinical training under a PhD who is known for having developed a technique for myoskeletal alignment. Students may opt instead for a program that incorporates massage and various other wellness practices or one that utilizes guest speakers to introduce a number of modalities. Schools may even use a modular format and let students choose what advanced coursework is most important to them.
The prospective student may consider many factors, including class size. Some Indiana programs limit class size to six students – or even four.
Students will want to select the coursework that allows them to position themselves well for employment. They won’t have to master or even explore everything the first time around – even if the program exceeds the minimum by several hundred hours. Massage schools often offer a number of courses as continuing education. Some students opt for large blocks of continuing education coursework in specialties such as geriatric massage. In Indiana, a massage therapist can even take a post-graduation course in canine, equine, and feline massage.
Beyond Massage School: Salary and Career Development
The South Bend-Mishawaka metropolitan area has the highest concentration of massage therapists in the state. The Indiana city that has the highest employment levels — Indianapolis — also reports the highest salary: a median of $25.62 (https://data.bls.gov/oes/). In the world of massage therapy, this is not the most common trend. Indianapolis trends high — those at the 10th percentile make about $12.23 an hour while those at the 90th percentile make an impressive $57.51.
The Evansville metropolitan division that spans parts of Indiana and Kentucky is another area where reported wages are well above the average. Gary, meanwhile, has the lowest average: $12.97. The South Bend-Mishawaka metropolitan Division, at $20.79, is above the national median; Fort Wayne at $17.23 is below.
Bloomington posts higher wages at the 10th and 25th percentile than any other Indiana metropolitan area. Those at the 25th percentile make more than $20 an hour.
Of course a massage therapy career is about more than just income. It’s about more even than helping people heal. It’s also about lifestyle. There can be plenty of opportunities for a skilled massage therapist to carve out his or her own path. The Alexandria School of Scientific Therapeutics lists the following among the possible places to work: day spas, home offices, senior citizen homes, cruise ships, fitness centers, resorts, bed and breakfasts.