Massage therapy programs


Massage therapy is different from many other careers because the training requirements vary so much between states. A degree is not required to become a massage therapist, though most states do require massage therapists to have a certain amount of training and pass a licensing exam before they are eligible to practice. This post will briefly review the different types of schools that offer massage therapy programs. Please note that since the requirements vary by location, only general information is provided here. Check the specific regulations and requirements in your state.

Community Colleges

More community colleges are starting to offer programs in massage therapy. These programs may be at the certificate level or the associate’s degree level. A certificate program generally takes one year to complete. Students in certificate programs take courses in anatomy and physiology, bodywork and massage techniques, and basic business concepts. An associate’s degree of applied science takes anywhere from 16 months to two years to complete. Students in these programs complete more advanced courses than students in certificate programs, as well as a number of general education courses (arts, humanities, etc.).

Medical and Health Sciences Colleges

These colleges offer degrees specifically in the medical and health sciences fields, like nursing, medical billing and coding, and massage therapy. The programs are similar to those offered at community colleges, generally taking about two years to complete.

Vocational Schools

Vocational schools are institutions that specifically offer career training in areas as diverse as massage therapy and auto mechanics. The programs at these schools may be offered at the diploma, certificate, or sometimes the degree level; however, the focus is on job skills training as opposed to general education.

Beauty Schools

Massage therapy is a common service offered at spas and other beauty care businesses, so many beauty schools have programs in massage therapy alongside those in cosmetology, esthetics, hair care, and nail care. Because these programs are usually not at the degree level, students can often complete them in as little as six months. Students may also have the option of completing training in other beauty care-related fields.

Specialized Massage Schools

Many schools offer only career training for massage therapists. There is a lot of variety in these programs. Some offer general training, while others specialize in a particular type of massage, like Swedish massage or Shiatsu massage. The length, cost, and schedule of the programs vary significantly, so it is difficult to describe them fully here. Check the list of approved massage schools in your state for more information.

As you can see, there are many options for career training in massage therapy. How do you know which one is right for you? First define your career goals—for example, do you want to work in a spa or a medical office or do you want to start your own business? What you want to do when you finish your training will determine what kind of training you should pursue.


Rogue Community College. Massage therapy.

Cuyahoga Community College. Massage therapy.

Swedish Institute. Massage therapy program.

South Texas Vocational Technical Institute. Massage therapist training.

Clarksburg Beauty Academy. Massage therapy.

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