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The steps to earning your medical massage therapist certificate

A results-oriented therapy, medical massage works toward resolving specific conditions that a physician has diagnosed in a patient.

More a style than a set of techniques, medical massage therapy employs a variety of modalities and procedures to treat the particular areas of a patient’s body suffering from injury or pain. Working hand-in-hand with physicians, medical massage therapists aim to achieve the best possible health outcomes for the patient.

What You’ll Do

Medical massage therapists combine their medical massage training, experience and tuition to evaluate a patient’s medical condition and decide on a path for treatment. The outcome-based nature of the therapy means that medical massage therapists focus on the particular injury or source of pain and apply specific treatments to help relieve the patient’s condition.

Like other massage therapists, medical massage practitioners work in a variety of health care facilities, from clinics to physician’s offices to wellness centers. While they might meet with some patients just a few times, other patients may require several weeks or months of therapeutic sessions to reach prescribed health goals.

Training and Education

What You’ll Study in Medical Massage School

Programs for medical massage therapy training will vary somewhat from school to school. In general, though, you can expect course work for medical massage training to include the following:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Clinical massage therapy principles and modalities
  • Kinesiology
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Pathology
  • Professional ethics
  • Business practices for medical massage therapists
  • Clinical practicum
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Average Length of Study

Depending on the program and your current level as a massage therapist, medical massage therapy training can involve 300 to 800 hours of combined classroom work and hands-on practice, which usually takes 12 to 18 months to complete. Some massage schools offer evening and weekend medical massage training classes to provide greater flexibility for working students and students with families.

Average Tuition

Tuition for medical massage therapy training programs ranges from $1,500 to $10,000. Most schools offer scholarships and financial aid to qualified applicants, as well as payment plans to help spread the cost over several months.

Medical Massage Therapy Certification

A majority of states require a license to practice as a massage therapist. The American Medical Massage Association (AMMA) offers a national certification exam to medical massage therapists who meet established criteria, which include completing at least 600 hours of supervised instruction at an accredited massage therapy school and passing a national certification exam. 

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of massage therapists in general will grow at a faster than average rate—20% through 2031. The ongoing wellness and alternative medicine trend to combine allopathic and natural health treatments to achieve overall wellness, along with the public’s interest in natural healing alternatives, will be the chief source of growth for medical massage therapy jobs in the coming decade.

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Medical Massage Therapist Salary

Research your state’s median salary for massage therapists, or compare national information here:

Is Medical Massage Therapy Right for You?

The path to becoming a medical massage therapist requires a high level of collaboration when it comes to helping patients achieve wellness goals and comfort working one-on-one with patients in a quiet environment. Caring, communication and understanding basic business concepts to help you build your medical massage therapy practice are also essential to the job.

If you are interested in a role as a medical massage therapist, take a closer look at medical massage training. Then choose the program that meets your personal and professional needs.

Sources: American Health Source, American Medical Massage Association, Medical Massage Practitioners of America, The Soma Institute

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