A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy School in Oregon: Many Choices and Rigorous Standards

Students who go to therapeutic massage school in Oregon can expect rigorous standards and a lot of choice. The state sets some minimum content requirements but allows plenty of room for electives. Schools take advantage of this – they have their own unique areas of emphasis.

Select an Oregon Massage Therapy School Topic:

Massage School Requirements in Oregon

Massage therapy schools in Oregon, as elsewhere, must draw authorization from a valid entity. The website of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) is a good starting place (http://www.oregon.gov/highered/Pages/index.aspx). An Oregon student will need 625 hours of education. The Board considers this to be the equivalent of 15.74 semester credits or 25 quarter credits.

The program must include 200 hours of health sciences: pathology, kinesiology, and anatomy and physiology. It must include 300 hours of theory and practical application. This content area must include clinical practice opportunity. Among the other required topics are sanitation, communication, business practice, and ethics. Hydrotherapy is creditable subject matter. The remaining 125 hours are, to an extent, discretionary. The program can include additional hours in any of the above content areas.

Programs vary in terms of their philosophical approach and the modalities emphasized. Some Oregon schools offer multiple programs of variable length. Community colleges sometimes have an associate's degree option. Even non-degree institutions may have master or advanced credentials. These can allow the future therapist to immerse himself or herself in unique philosophies and treatment protocols. Oregon boasts one advanced program, for example, that teaches students to use assessment and treatment to re-pattern client neurological movement centers, thus providing them with help with conditions like chronic pain or problematic postural compensation.

Pacing also varies. Pacing can reflect the school’s philosophy and method of ensuring student success. One Oregon massage therapy school notes that it takes considerable time to integrate the subject matter.

The Connection Between Education and Certification Options

Among the things that a student may want to take into account are future certification options. Professional certification doesn't replace licensure but indicates that the practitioner has gone the extra mile or, in some cases, gained expertise in a particular branch of the broad bodywork discipline. The Board website includes links to several national certifying organizations (http://www.oregon.gov/obmt/Pages/index.aspx).

Oregon is in the minority in that it accepts the Certification Examination for Structural Integration as one of its licensing options. Oregon students who are interested in structural integration certification will find themselves with more than one option. One qualifying Northwest school focuses on neuromuscular integration; it is located in Washington but dually licensed in Oregon and Washington.

The total hours required for structural integration certification a little higher than what is required for Oregon licensure. The Northwest Center for Structural Integration reports that the International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI) now requires 500 hours of coursework in structural integration and at least 730 hours of total coursework (https://www.structuralintegrationtraining.com/structural-integration-certification-process/).

Students who plan to seek board certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork will find themselves with plenty of in-state options. Oregon has ten schools that have been assigned codes by the National Certification Board (http://www.ncbtmb.org/tools/find-approved-school). (Portland has several, but one will also find some in smaller municipalities like Grant's Pass.)

In-State vs Out-of-State Massage Therapy Education

Also acceptable are programs located in other states provided they have been approved by an acceptable entity. New regulations change the language somewhat from accredited to approved; this reflects that, while some states do use the word “accreditation” to refer to state approval, accreditation is a separate process. Massage therapy programs are available near and far! Oregon rules even include directions for documents that are not in English. A student can generally expect an in-state school to be more of a resource with regard to meeting state requirements, but schools located in border states can be informative as well.

The Oregon Board does not consider national accreditation to be as fundamental as state approval, but accreditation can have value. Some schools are accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) or the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). This is the case with many out-of-state schools as well.

A long program will not always guarantee that Oregon requirements have been met. The Oregon health sciences coursework is a little above that required of NCBTMB schools though many do go above minimum standards.

In the case of experienced practitioners, the Board may award some credit for continuing education and/ or practical experience.

Career Outlook and Average Salary

Oregon massage therapists make well above the national average. The median hourly wage is $27.93. Wages vary significantly from one part of the state to the next. Eugene and Medford report the highest wages in the state: $32.43 and $31.00, respectively. In the Bend/ Redmond metropolitan area, the median wage is $27.80. The Portland/ Vancouver area is not far behind at $27.44; Salem is at $25.43.

The median is significantly lower in the South Coast Oregon nonmetropolitan area, though some massage therapists in this area do bring in high wages. (The median is just $ 11.97 but those at the 90th percentile make $49.07. This is one area of the state where a person may want to aim to be in the upper half!)

The Portland/ Vancouver/ Hillsboro metropolitan area that extends across the border into Washington has the distinction of having the ninth highest massage therapist employment level of all metropolitan areas in the country -- this is measured by sheer numbers. The Bend area has a very similar massage therapist job concentration, though fewer total practitioners. Eugene also has a relatively high concentration of massage therapists – it’s that type of college town.

Massage therapist employment levels in Oregon have been predicted to see 20.3% growth between 2014 and 2024 (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm). Percentage-wise, that's a shade under the 21.6% predicted for the nation as a whole. Oregon, though, already has a higher concentration of massage therapists than most states; the West coast is generally high in this regard. If predictions are correct, the state will go from a base of 3,600 up to 4,330.