A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in Michigan: Getting more than the Standard

A student who goes to massage therapy school in Michigan can expect the basics -- and possibly a whole lot more. Michigan sets minimum educational standards on a par with many other states. Michigan standards are also very similar to the minimum initial requirements of a well-known national certifying body. Some schools deliver much more than what is mandated.

Select a Michigan Massage Therapy School Topic:

Minimum Massage Therapy Program Standards

Michigan requires students to complete programs that include at least 500 total hours. They must include the following curriculum:

  • 200 hours of instruction in massage/ bodywork theory, application, and assessment
  • 125 hours of anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology
  • 40 hours of pathology
  • 40 hours of work in a student clinic
  • 6 hours of ethics
  • 4 hours of professional practice/ business

The remaining hours need to be in areas related to massage therapy -- this affords quite a bit of leeway.

One will find most of the above components listed as requirements for assignment of a testing code by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (http://www.ncbtmb.org/board-certification). Students who are considering NCBTMB programs outside Michigan, though, may need to inquire about some components, particularly hours spent in a student clinic. Many Michigan programs have been assigned NCBTMB codes; the NCBTMB website lists 17 (http://www.ncbtmb.org/tools/find-approved-school). Programs are housed in a variety of institutions from community college to naturopathic institute.

Massage School Program Options

Some massage therapy schools have a particular focus (for example, “Clinical Acupressure & TuiNa). Others are generalist. In some programs, the entire program is planned; all students take classes in the same modalities and spend the same amount of time exploring particular conditions and special populations. Schools may, though, leave room for some electives. Offerings can be diverse: infant massage, musculoskeletal dysfunction, trigger point therapy, hot rock massage. While some Michigan programs are the requisite 500 hours, others are 700 to 800. Pacing varies. A student may average 100 or more instruction and training hours per month – or may opt for a much slower pace.

The school may offer, or require, far more than the 40 clinic hours that is required for Michigan licensure. Students may have different sorts of opportunities at the clinic – for example, prenatal massage.

Among the other considerations: career services. The school may provide coursework or workshops in career development. In some cases, the school’s connections to local employers -- and its reputation – can help launch careers.

Preparing for Massage Therapy School

In order to a achieve licensure in Michigan, a person must graduate from high school or earn a GED. Schools may ask prospective students to demonstrate that they hold diplomas or, if they have not yet graduated, that they are on track to do so. Programs located in college settings may set other basic academic requirements (e.g. test scores).

Massage Therapists who Attend School or Seek Employment outside Michigan

With so many schools, students will likely find what they want without traveling far. A person can pursue their initial education virtually anywhere and be eligible for licensure in Michigan as long as the education meets all requirements in state code. The licensing agency has even provided information for graduates of international programs (not withstanding that they will have some extra steps to demonstrate equivalency).

It cannot be assured that meeting Michigan standards will guarantee licensure everywhere. While standards are on a par with many other states, they are not as high as some and not as high as what has been recommended at the entry-level.

Pursuing Education for Adjunct Board Certification

Individuals who seek national board certification should be aware that while 500 hours from an assigned school serves as an education foundation, additional education will be needed before certification. If the assigned program was between 500 and 750 hours, the difference can be made up through continuing education. There are many varied continuing education courses offered through NCBTMB-approved Michigan providers: everything from reflexology and energy work to back pain and TMJD/headache interventions. Massage therapists sometimes pursue large blocks of continuing education that relate to modalities and populations of interest. They may attend conferences in Michigan or elsewhere in the nation; conference attendees may only earn an hour or so of continuing education for each selection but come away having taken many mini-courses. One Michigan conference features courses in topics such as developing compassion and understanding in healthcare.

Siena Heights University in Adrian is one of two U.S. universities that awards college credit for board certification; credits may be applied toward a bachelor’s in massage therapy. This path is recommended for individuals who have other college/ transfer credit.

Career Outlook and Average Salaries

Michigan is very near the national average with regard to both average salary and projected job growth. Career outlook is bright: The Michigan massage therapy occupation has been projected to grow by 20.6% in the 2014 to 2024 decade (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm). The median salary is $19.56 (https://data.bls.gov/oes/#/home). 25% of the state’s massage therapists earn less than $13.75 an hour; another 25%, though, earn more than $26.28.

The Michigan metropolitan area that boasts the highest total number of massage therapists -- the Detroit/ Warren/ Dearborn metropolitan district – is also very close to the national average salary-wise, with a median hourly wage of $19.36. The highest average salaries in the state are in the Northwest Lower Peninsula and in the Grand Rapids metropolitan area that bridges Michigan and Wyoming; massage therapists in these areas enjoy a median salary of about $25. Some nonmetropolitan Peninsula areas have wages well below the state average. Even in these locations, though, some massage therapists are making solid incomes. In the Upper Peninsula nonmetropolitan area, the median is just $9.45, but massage therapists at the 75th percentile earn $27.31. It appears that there are opportunities for those with skill and savvy!

The Lansing-East Lansing area is somewhat below the average with a median of $17.05. One bright spot is the 10th percentile wage of $10.29 which is on a par with, or slightly above, that of many parts of the state.