How to Choose a Massage Therapy College

Once you've made the decision to become a massage therapist, the next major decision is where to attend massage therapy college. You'll want to find a program that matches your career objectives but also fits your location and lifestyle.


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    Become familiar with your state's education requirements for massage therapy. Generally, 500 hours of education is required to receive a professional license. Some colleges offer a two-year program to obtain an associate's degree in massage therapy but a degree is not required.
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    Research what massage therapy programs are available near you.
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    Check the accreditation of massage therapy schools. Search the U.S. Department of Education's Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation. You can also see if the school is on the list for providing continuing education with the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.
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    Define your goals and areas of interest. Learn more about the different massage specialty areas, and think about where you would like to work after college.
    • Examine each schools' education philosophies and techniques. You can opt for a spa-oriented approach or one that is more medical. Some schools also instruct in Eastern techniques. If you're not sure, consider choosing a school that teaches all three so you can learn more about each.
    • If you want to own your own massage therapy business, make sure courses on marketing yourself and maintaining a business are part of the curriculum.
    • Look at how classes are set up. Find out if you can take classes part-time or must be enrolled as a full-time student. Some schools only offer certain classes at specific times of the year.
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    Set up a tour of the massage therapy school and see if you can attend a class or two. Meet teachers and ask questions. Some colleges may even provide a career day for prospective students.
    • Don't be afraid to speak up. Ask about class sizes and the level of expertise among teachers. Discover the extent of a program's hands-on training. Ask how many program graduates go on to work in their field.
    • If possible, talk to graduates of the program to ask about their experience and to get a feel for the school's reputation. Ask whether the school's job placement program was helpful.
    • Ask for a student massage so you can evaluate a student's performance firsthand.
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    Determine the fees and costs of attending the school. Ask if financial aid or scholarships are available. Some schools may offer their own financing or payment plans to help you financially.
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    Realize that learning will be ongoing. Check out the college's continuing education for professional massage therapists.


  • Before you enroll in a massage therapy school, check if any prerequisites are required.
  • Before you can become certified, you must take an exam either by the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage, depending on your state's requirements. In most instances, once you've been certified, you can apply for a license in another state without re-taking the exam or apply for reciprocity which allows for the recognition of your certification from another state.

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