A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in Maine: Local practitioners are carving out their own paths

A local Portland news source recently featured cupping, a massage therapy modality that was brought to the forefront during the Olympics but is available much closer to home; it’s among the many practiced in in Maine (http://www.wcsh6.com/sports/olympics/cupping-technique-seen-on-olympians-practiced-in-maine/293784291). Unique therapies designed to support particular objectives: This is one way local practitioners are carving out their own paths.

The path begins with education. Massage therapists don’t necessarily earn college degrees, but they do go to school to learn their trade. Maine has set massage therapy standards on a par with many other states. Requirements are not as high as in some parts of the country, but massage therapists are in no way restricted to mandated coursework. Extras may be pursued as part of the initial massage therapy program or down the line.

Students typically do not need strong academic backgrounds to enter programs but may need to write admission essays or make other demonstration of suitability.

Select a Maine Massage Therapy School Topic:

Massage Therapy School Fundamentals

Massage therapists complete state-approved career programs. A Maine student will need a minimum of 500 hours of coursework. The program must include coursework in four content areas. Students must receive state-mandated training hours in two crucial subjects. Maine has set a minimum of 120 hours for human anatomy, pathology, and physiology coursework. It has set a minimum of 100 hours for supervised, hands-on practice. Theory, technique, and practice comprise another essential content area. Maine statute identifies a number of basic techniques that are to receive coverage. Examples include deep pressure, compression, kneading, gliding, and jostling. The last content area includes various topics considered important for safe competent practice among them, contraindications, universal precautions, business, legalities and ethics.

A student who lives (and plans to work) in the state will not need to do a lot of research to confirm that a program meets minimum state standards. The Maine Massage Therapy Program has provided a list of approved schools (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/massage/). Currently there are seven. Generally speaking, they are housed in institutions that are focused in one way or another on the healing arts. One career school boasts several entry-level health career credentials; another has the dual focus of massage and yoga.

Students who choose one of these schools can be assured that their program has been reviewed for general adequacy. The school must, for example, document instructor qualifications when applying for approval. It must also demonstrate that it is approved by the Department of Education unless exempt. (Authorization to operate is a minimum standard required by almost all states.) Maine schools must list all locations. The application form for program approval asks for a list of all licenses or accreditations.

Massage Training Program Options

Among the more common bodywork modalities covered are Swedish, deep tissue massage, reflexology, acupressure, and hydrotheraphy. However, there is some difference from program to program. Massage therapy schools take different philosophical approaches and may have their own signature modalities. Some programs give considerable attention to special populations. One Maine school emphasizes Dimensional Massage Therapy (DMT) and offers initial coursework in oncology massage. Another offers polarity therapy. A Maine student may be allowed to opt between a focus on holistic or therapeutic massage.

Schools are located in both urban and rural areas of the state.

Students may want to consider accreditations that the school has chosen to voluntarily pursue.

Preparation for Optional Certifications

Some massage professionals want to go beyond just being licensed; they want to be board certified as well. Board certification is available through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, or NCBTMB. Students who want to go this route should select schools that have been assigned NCBTMB testing codes. Maine boasts four such schools (http://www.ncbtmb.org/tools/find-approved-school). The NCBTMB has additional requirements about how training hours are to be distributed. However, there is still a lot of leeway granted to individual programs.

Massage therapists must complete well over the minimum 500 hours before they can become board certified. Additional training can be met through NCBTMB-approved continuing education providers. There are plenty of options available through local massage therapy schools and other approved providers. Modern reiki, trigger point massage, prenatal massage, and orthopedic massage are among the courses available in-state. A practitioner might even opt for coursework in spa treatments (for example, cucumber salt glow or herbal wrap) or movement-based practices like thai yoga bodywork.

Some massage therapists choose a large block of coursework -- 50 or even 75 hours -- in topics like reflexology or shiatsu. In some cases, additional coursework will qualify the massage therapist for other adjunct certifications.

Beyond Massage School: Salary and Job Outlook

Massage therapy employment in Maine has been projected to see 5.8% growth between the years 2014 and 2014 (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm). Maine massage therapists earn a median salary of $18.26 an hour (https://data.bls.gov/oes/#/home).

Wages are significantly higher in the Portland/ South Portland area than in the Southwest Maine nonmetropolitan area. In the Portland area, the median is listed as $18.57; in the Southwest nonmetropolitan area, just $14.34. Massage therapists at the 10th percentile make between $11 and $12 in both these areas. At higher incomes, though, there appears to be a wider gap. In the greater Portland area, massage therapists at the 25th percentile are already up to $16.38; in the nonmetropolitan reporting district, they are still at $12.84.

Nationwide, salary is greatly influenced by work setting, not just geographical location. One way that massage therapists often carve out individual paths: by going into business for themselves.