Massage Therapy School in Pittsburgh, PA
Massage therapy is indeed therapy, and many organizations in the Pittsburgh area have had a role in bringing it into the mainstream.
The mid-2019 massage therapy job market includes a number of massage franchises as well as wellness spas, fitness centers, and small healthcare offices. Many Pittsburgh LMTs are self-employed, working solo or in partnership with others.
Best Massage Therapy Schools in Pittsburgh
The Pittsburg School of Massage Therapy offers a 682-hour program that includes 88 hours of Swedish massage and 132 hours of neuromuscular therapy. Students receive training in other modalities, including reflexology and myofascial release. The program is designed to give students a strong science foundation and a pre-professional ‘toolkit’ that includes marketing strategies.
The Community College of Allegheny County offers massage therapists programs through its rehabilitative therapies department. Students can opt for a certificate or associate’s degree. The community college states that students who complete the AAS program will have the necessary coursework to eventually test for certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Students who complete the certificate program may also achieve certification – this will be dependent on completing sufficient approved courses.
LMTs in Business
Pittsburgh entrepreneurs develop their own niches. Specialties may include working with special populations, employing less common modalities, or creating a unique experience that speaks to the aesthetics and beliefs of a particular clientele. Urban Escape Customized Massage Therapy, for example, is built on environmental concerns as well as on customized massage. Environmentally friendly products are used throughout: natural lotions, organic cotton sheets, soy candles, cleaning products. The massage itself may blend different modalities and even make use of infrared biomat.
Some Pittsburgh massage therapists have pursued a variety of advanced trainings and attained professional certifications in multiple areas. The proprietor of Natural Kneads, for example, cites many advanced trainings including Watsu aquatic massage. Geriatric massage is another specialty area. She even cites experience providing massage for Olympic competitors. This LMT is well compensated for her work but does have special pricings for some populations including seniors.
Some LMT-owned businesses grow well beyond solo practice. The professional who started the business may take on other massage therapists as employees or contractors or rent space to them. Centre Avenue Massage and Spa is a relatively large LMT-owned local practice. It is owned by a nationally certified massage therapist. There are now six other LMTs onboard.
The Role of Therapeutic Massage in Healthcare
Licensed massage therapists often provide services from within chiropractic or acupuncturist offices. Some facilities boast professionals from a range of disciplines; they frequently characterize themselves as ‘wellness centers’. There can be many services, from nutrition to yoga.
Some integrative health centers are part of major healthcare systems. While they may not employ a lot of massage therapists, these centers can be high profile. They have had a role in legitimizing the role of massage in healthcare.
Allegheny Health Network has recognized the value of massage therapy by integrating it into multiple programs. Massage therapy is among the services offered through the Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (https://www.ahn.org/services/medicine/center-for-inclusion-health/addiction-medicine.html). Allegheny made the news several years back with another program, Home of Hope, designed to make medical care less of a disruptive force in the lives of young women who were battling breast cancer (https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2016/08/24/home-of-hope-helping-breast-cancer-patients-during-difficult-time/).
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center operates an integrative health center with a number of services (https://www.upmc.com/services/integrative-medicine/experts). West Penn Hospital, meanwhile, recently announced an innovation of its own: the Enhanced Pain Management Program (https://www.nextpittsburgh.com/latest-news/highmark-announces-new-strategies-for-fighting-the-war-on-opioid-addiction/) The goal is to bring down reliance on opioids.
One thing that’s attractive to many in the healthcare community: Integrative therapies have the potential to make care more effective instead of more costly. A former CEO from Windber Medical Center notes that the facility brought costs down while including spa-like healing options (https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2017/12/10/Integrative-medicine-has-been-proven-to-save-lives-and-make-people-healthier/stories/201712100009). He writes of “credentialing”, a process that healthcare providers go through when they are part of systems where treatments are paid by third parties.
Colleges, too, recognize the therapeutic value. The University of Pennsylvania advertises massage services through its campus recreation and student health services departments. The University of Pittsburgh includes massage in its end-of-semester, de-stress before finals programming (https://pittnews.com/article/138493/featured/lnap-offers-pre-finals-stress-relief-for-students/).
Pittsburgh Massage Practices
There are a lot of massage franchises in the area: LaVida Massage, Massage Envy, Elements, Massage Heights.
Evolve Massage and Wellness is among the larger locally owned spas in the region. It has a staff that includes more than 20 LMTs.
Some LMTs provide mobile services through Soothe.
The places LMTs deliver services are many and varied. A writer for Next Pittsburgh profiled an eclectic small business that specialized in aromatherapy but was soon to begin incorporating massage therapy (https://www.nextpittsburgh.com/health/well-oiled-boutique-brings-holistic-healing-to-dormont/).
Massage Therapist Wages
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a median hourly wage of $20.08 for Pittsburgh massage therapists. The middle range is from $16.75 to $23.49.
Massage Therapist Continuing Education
Continuing education courses develop advanced competencies and prepare students to work with populations who have special needs. The Pittsburgh School of Massage Therapy lists the following among its continuing education offerings for 2019: neural reset therapy, Thai table massage, geriatric massage, and massage for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Advanced trainings often take the form of short intensives – the instructor, too, may be traveling. For those who can take an occasional short trip, this area of the country is ripe with opportunity.