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Career profile Massage Therapist

Also known as Bodywork Therapist, Certified Massage Therapist (CMT), Clinical Massage Therapist, Integrated Deep Tissue Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Practitioner (LMP), Licensed Massage Therapist, Massage Therapist, Medical Massage Therapist, Registered Massage Therapist, Therapeutic Massage Technician

Massage Therapist

Also known as Bodywork Therapist, Certified Massage Therapist (CMT), Clinical Massage Therapist

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Realistic
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$22,580 - $79,150 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Social Perceptiveness
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Biology
  • Psychology
Core tasks
  • Confer with clients about their medical histories and problems with stress or pain to determine how massage will be most helpful.
  • Massage and knead muscles and soft tissues of the body to provide treatment for medical conditions, injuries, or wellness maintenance.
  • Maintain massage areas by restocking supplies or sanitizing equipment.
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What does a Massage Therapist do?

Massage Therapists perform therapeutic massages of soft tissues and joints.

In addition, Massage Therapists may assist in the assessment of range of motion and muscle strength, or propose client therapy plans.

What kind of tasks does a Massage Therapist perform regularly?

Massage Therapists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Confer with clients about their medical histories and problems with stress or pain to determine how massage will be most helpful.
  • Massage and knead muscles and soft tissues of the body to provide treatment for medical conditions, injuries, or wellness maintenance.
  • Maintain massage areas by restocking supplies or sanitizing equipment.
  • Apply finger and hand pressure to specific points of the body.
  • Develop and propose client treatment plans that specify which types of massage are to be used.
  • Maintain treatment records.
  • Assess clients' soft tissue condition, joint quality and function, muscle strength, and range of motion.
  • Provide clients with guidance and information about techniques for postural improvement and stretching, strengthening, relaxation, and rehabilitative exercises.
  • Treat clients in professional settings or travel to clients' offices and homes.
  • Refer clients to other types of therapists when necessary.
  • Prepare and blend oils and apply the blends to clients' skin.
  • Consult with other health care professionals, such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, physicians, and psychologists, to develop treatment plans for clients.
  • Perform other adjunctive therapies or treatment techniques in addition to massage.

The above responsibilities are specific to Massage Therapists. More generally, Massage Therapists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

What is a Massage Therapist salary?

The median salary for a Massage Therapist is $43,620, and the average salary is $47,350. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Massage Therapist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Massage Therapists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Massage Therapists earn less than $22,580 per year, 25% earn less than $30,010, 75% earn less than $59,790, and 90% earn less than $79,150.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Massage Therapists is expected to change by 32.2%, and there should be roughly 23,300 open positions for Massage Therapists every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$22,580 - $79,150
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Massage Therapists?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Massage Therapist are usually higher in their Social and Realistic interests.

Massage Therapists typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Massage Therapists typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Massage Therapist tend to value Relationships, Independence, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Massage Therapists strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Massage Therapists moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Massage Therapists moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Massage Therapists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as concern for others, dependability, and integrity.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Massage Therapists, ranked by importance:

Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Massage Therapists need?

Massage Therapists often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Massage Therapists usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Massage Therapists

  • 3.0% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 20.6% completed high school or secondary school
  • 33.2% completed some college coursework
  • 18.5% earned a Associate's degree
  • 19.3% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 3.4% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.9% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Massage Therapists

Massage Therapists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, biology, or psychology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Massage Therapists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Sales and Marketing
Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.

Important Abilities needed by Massage Therapists

Massage Therapists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Massage Therapists need abilities such as dynamic strength, trunk strength, and oral comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Massage Therapists, ranked by their relative importance.

Dynamic Strength
The ability to exert muscle force repeatedly or continuously over time. This involves muscular endurance and resistance to muscle fatigue.
Trunk Strength
The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without "giving out" or fatiguing.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Manual Dexterity
The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.

Critical Skills needed by Massage Therapists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Massage Therapists frequently use skills like active listening, speaking, and social perceptiveness to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Massage Therapists, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.
Judgment and Decision Making
Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.