A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Schools in West Virginia

West Virginia has become quite a leader in the world of massage therapy. The state has made the news more than once for research into the role of massage as an alternative to dangerous pain medications. Some of the people carrying out the research have doctoral degrees -- but those who are actually carrying out the massage therapy are often doing so on the strength of a short certificate program.

A massage therapy career has much to offer the right person. There is the opportunity to carve out unique pathways, the opportunity to be self-employed if one chooses, the opportunity to make a real difference in people's lives. What’s more, one can do so after investing less than a year in qualifying education. Under West Virginia law, a massage therapy program can be completed in as little as six months.

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West Virginia Massage Therapy School and Therapist Standards

West Virginia sets standards for massage therapy schools as well as for massage therapists. This means that some portion of the responsibility falls on the school to make sure the curriculum is up to state standards. Standards do change from time to time, and West Virginia may be upping its. The Board has proposed and submitted rule changes that could go into effect in 2018. Proposed changes would increase minimum program hours from 500 to 625. 625 hours is, notably, the number recommended by the Coalition of National Massage Therapy Organizations as the standard for entry-level practice.

New rules won’t necessarily be felt by students. Programs do often exceed the minimums.

Currently, West Virginia programs offer at least the following (based on 500 program hours):

Anatomy and physiology comprise no fewer than 100 hours; there is a pathology sub-component.

No fewer than 200 hours are allocated to fundamental massage theory and application. At least 100 of these hours are hands-on. Massage indications and counterindications, client assessment, body mechanics, and standard procedures for disease control are also considered fundamental massage content.

Professional ethics and West Virginia law together comprise 15 hours.

Business practices also receive 15 hours of coverage.

Another 20 hours is devoted to issues such as therapist/ patient relationships, boundaries, and communication.

This leaves 150 hours. The remaining coursework could include any of various things: more in-depth treatment of physiology, kinesiology, and movement, clinical massage, spa massage, and/ or adjunctive modalities. Fieldwork or student clinic (a form of supervised practice) may account for up to 100 of the 150 hours; for these experiences, the school’s instructional staff will provide supervision as well as evaluation.

Internship utilizes the supervision of on-site personnel but is still evaluated by the school. Any internship that is included takes the program beyond the required 500 hours; internship comprises no more than 20% of the program.

Going to Massage Therapy School in West Virginia

There are many things that a massage therapy student can expect from his or her program just because it is under West Virginia jurisdiction.

The massage therapy school will have a resource center or library with materials relevant to massage therapy practice. Programs will be logically and sequentially organized and there will be consistency in course content and expectations, even when different instructors are employed. The instructional staff will meet credentialing/ training requirements and will follow practice standards set by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

The student will receive a detailed syllabus before the beginning of the course. This will include performance standards, quiz dates, and assignments as well as objectives and instructional hours.,/p>

One thing a West Virginia student will need to do make sure of: that any school he or she is considering is operating legitimately. The authorizing entity will likely be the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical Colleges.

Board certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (a voluntary secondary credential) is facilitated by completion of an NCBTMB-assigned school. West Virginia boasts four assigned schools.

The student may also want to consider voluntary accreditations such as that granted by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA).

Massage Therapy Career Outlook and Average Salary

Occupational predictions place West Virginia massage therapist employment levels at a 5.7% growth rate over the course of the 2014 to 2024 decade (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm).

As of 2016, West Virginia massage therapists are making a median hourly wage of $15.17. Half of the state’s massage therapists are making less, though the vast majority of them are making at least $9.45 -- this is the 10th percentile wage. Half are making more than $15.17 -- sometimes substantially more. But most are making less than $27.34 -- this is the 90th percentile wage.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has provided data for three areas of West Virginia, one of which also includes portions of Kentucky. The Morgantown and Huntington areas have considerably higher median hourly wages than the Northern West Virginia nonmetropolitan area. In the Northern nonmetropolitan area, the median is just $10.32. A significant portion of the population here is at the low end of the scale. 25% of massage therapists in this area, though, are making above $25.84 – this is more than their counterparts in Morgantown are making. 10% are making more than $29.36 – this is above that of their counterparts in either Morgantown or the Huntington/ Ashland area.

The median hourly wage is $16.87 in Morgantown and $17.96 in the Huntington/ Ashland area. Massage therapists at the 75th percentile make about $26.18 in the Huntington/ Ashland area, $18.20 in Morgantown. By contrast, BLS figures suggest that those on the low end of the wage scale (10th or 25th percentile) are making more in Morgantown.