What Is a Massage Therapist?


Quick Answer

A massage therapist is a professional who uses hands, fingers and sometimes elbows to provide deep-tissue muscle massages to clients. Clients hire massage therapists as part of rehabilitation from injuries, but many also use their services for stress relief and relaxation.

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What Is a Massage Therapist?
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Full Answer

To become a massage therapist, one must obtain a license or certificate to practice in most states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Five hundred hours of post-secondary education is a common requirement to become licensed.

During a typical session with a client, the therapist may provide a full-body massage or spot treatment on certain areas. With a repeat client, the therapist often asks questions at the start of the session to evaluate improvement in physical ailments. Interacting with clients to make them comfortable is part of the therapist's role as well.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 46 percent of massage therapists were self-employed in 2012. Others work in salons, spas, health clinics and fitness centers. In a spa or fitness center, the therapist may work with other employees to provide total care for a rehabilitating client. Median pay for a massage therapist was $35,970 as of May 2012. Those who work full-time and who are self-employed have higher earning potential.

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