Massage therapists see patients who have muscle injuries or who wish to relieve tension in their muscles. Massage therapists listen to patient concerns, perform different types of massages depending on a patient's needs, and may also discuss ways that patients can use stretching or exercises at home. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, preparing for a career in massage therapy can take up to 500 hours of study. The expected earnings for a massage therapist depend on where they work and how many clients they have.
Maximum and Minimum National Pay
Across the country, the BLS reports that the average income for massage therapists was $40,350 per year in 2012. Some made significantly less; 25 percent of massage therapists made $25,180 or less per year, while the lowest-paid 10 percent earned $18,420 or less. However, the highest-paid 25 percent made $51,430 or more, and the highest-paid 10 percent made $70,140 or more per year. The American Massage Therapy Association reports that the average massage therapists earned an average of $47 per hour in 2011.
Pay by Location
Massage therapists working in the Northeast and Northwest tend to make more money than those working in other parts of the country. Massage therapists looking to maximize their earnings could do worse than moving to Alaska, where they reported a whopping average annual salary of $84,120, and the top 10 percent of earners made $115,260 or more. Other relatively high-paying states for massage therapists include Vermont at $58,050, Rhode Island at $54,680, and Washington at $53,760. Many of the lowest average salaries for massage therapists were reported in the South. In the very lowest-paying state, Mississippi, massage therapists averaged $24,560 per year, and the lowest-paid 10 percent made $17,200 or less.
Pay by Employment Situation
As of 2012, the very highest-paid massage therapists were those employed by ambulatory health care services, earning an average of $60,150 per year. Other high-paying gigs for massage therapists included nursing homes ($56,790), technical and trade schools ($51,060), and physician's offices ($50,520). Massage therapists employed by hotels and resorts reported one of the worst average salaries, $36,430 per year.
The job outlook for massage therapists is relatively good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of massage therapy jobs to grow by about 20 percent, somewhat faster than the 14 percent average rate of growth forecast for all jobs in the U.S. economy. The BLS estimates that 30,900 more massage therapists will be working in 2020 than were in 2010. However, aspiring massage therapists should expect to work on a part-time basis until they build up a stable of reliable clients.
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