Massage Therapy Schools in Massachusetts: Standards allow for students to pursue a course of study of interest to them
2017 has seen some minor changes to Massachusetts massage therapist educational requirements. Massachusetts has set minimum requirements in some content areas but now allows programs and students a little more latitude in what can be credited. The basics, though, remain the same: 650 hours of massage therapy education and training. This is a little above the nationwide average. Massachusetts standards allow students to pursue a course of study of interest to them and still get in the basics.
Select a Massachusetts Massage Therapy School Topic:
- Minimum Massage Therapy Program Standards
- Massage Therapy Program Options
- Massage Therapy License Requirements in Massachusetts
- Beyond Massage School: Salary and Career Development
Minimum Massage Therapy Program Standards
The student will need 650 total hours. The curriculum will include, at minimum, 300 hours of theory and techniques. Of these, 150 are to be in Western techniques or what the Board refers to as the ‘statutory definition of massage’. The primary goal is to foster client health and well-being; this is achieved through systematic soft tissue manipulation. Schools are given considerable leeway with regard to the remaining 150 hours. The curriculum could include Eastern theory and technique and could include modalities which are currently exempt in Massachusetts (such as those that affect Qi meridians or energy systems). It doesn’t, however, have to; there might be more study of traditional Western soft tissue techniques instead.
The student is expected to have an internship or externship experience of 100 hours; this is unpaid (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/docs/dpl/boards/mt/mt-faq-new-regs.pdf).
The Board of Registration of Massage Therapy leaves a number of programs hours undefined. Body systems coursework such as anatomy and physiology would fall under this category. (A number of other U.S. jurisdictions, notably, do mandate a set number of hours in body systems sciences. This is part of the generally expected curriculum, and Massachusetts did, until recently, ask for documentation of the number of hours in several areas.)
While the Board has been authorized to approve programs, schools are still under the jurisdiction of a more general regulatory body. Prospective students can find information about school status on the website of the Division of Professional Licensure (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/government/oca-agencies/dpl-lp/schools/licensure/listings.html).
Massage education obtained in another state can be accepted if the school is properly licensed in its own jurisdiction and if Massachusetts curriculum requirements are met (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mt/faq/frequently-asked-questions-on-massage-therapy.html#mt07).
Massage Therapy Program Options
As one might guess, there can be significant differences in the amount of attention given to Eastern and Western modalities and their underlying philosophies. Time limitations mean that only some of the many types of massage and allied modalities can be addressed. Some programs offer training in their own signature therapies. Some are generalist programs, providing a foundation in the most common techniques. There will of course be more room to explore modalities in a long program. Some programs include well above the 650 hours mandated by the Massachusetts Board. 750 is common.
Prospective massage therapists who wish to seek adjunct certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork actually need this many – at least eventually. Shorter programs can suffice, though, as initial education; the difference can be made up later. The most important thing for those who want the extra credential is that the program have been positively reviewed and issued a testing code by the NCBTMB. Massachusetts boasts fully a dozen options; some schools have branches in different cities that have been issued separate codes (https://www.ncbtmb.org/schools-students/).
Some programs offer training in their own signature therapies. Some draw from other disciplines. One option is to combine esthetics and massage therapy. Students may attend open house to learn about the particular program and have their questions answered. The school may even provide contact information for students who have attended in the past. Programs are often in the six to twelve month range. Students may have the option of attending part-time over a longer time period; some schools offer programs designed for the busy professional.
Career Outlook and Average Salary
Long-term occupational projections call for an 18.1% increase in massage therapist employment in Massachusetts over the course of the 2014 to 2024 decade (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm).
Massachusetts massage therapists enjoy a median wage of $23.81 an hour (https://data.bls.gov/oes/#/home). Even those at the 10th percentile make $13.73, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016. Few states report a 10th percentile wage quite this high. Massage therapists at the 90th percentile make $38.16; this also places the state at the high end of the range.
The Boston/ Cambridge/ Newton area is at approximately the state average with a median of $24.09. The lowest reported wages in the state are in the Peabody/ Salem/ Beverly area; here the median is $17.53. The highest wages are in Pittsfield and in the Springfield metropolitan area; the latter also includes parts of Connecticut. Median hourly wages are $25.59 and $25.58, respectively. In Pittsfield, those at the high end (90th percentile) have unusually high wages: $58.92. In Spingfield, the trend reverses. Here it’s wages at the low end that trend high; massage therapists at the 10th percentile earn $18.01, those at the 25th percentile, $22.23. In the Brockton/ Bridgewater/ Easton area, wages at the low end of the scale trend even higher: $19.55 at the 10th percentile, $21.01 at the 25th.