13 Secrets of Massage Therapy

If you’ve been to a massage school, you are probably all too familiar with everything they feed you when you are considering going to school… That the average massage therapist easily makes upwards of $60,000 a year and that massage therapists are in high demand right now because people are starting to realize how valuable massage therapy is, and the best part is that you can set your own schedule, and work your own hours, you can be your own boss… And they make it sound so wonderful like you can work 4 days a week for 6 hours a day and be making all this money while helping yourself and other people!

As you get through school, no one really says anything until you hit business class… Where suddenly reality hits and your business teacher is blunter than you would like… Or at least if you have a business teacher like mine…

Then you start getting told in the last month and a half you are there, that most massage therapists are still working 8 hour days, they are working 5-6 days a week and probably working 2-3 jobs and it’s nearly impossible to make a living being self-employed. He tells you that most therapists who think they are going to start being self-employed eventually end up working for 1 or 2 establishments while trying to finagle their handful of clients that belong strictly to them.

You think to yourself, “Nah… That can’t be. Everyone makes it sound so easy!”

Well, I’m here to let you in on some of the dirty secrets…

  1. It is really hard to start your own business… You will likely want to consider working elsewhere, at least while you try to build your business…
  2. Working for others, doesn’t pay what it should… I’ve seen pay as low as $12 and I’ve seen pay as high as $30, and that’s only working per client and not counting the 45 minutes you spend folding sheets, which sounds AMAZING until you find they are only working you 3-8 hours a week even though they promised you more hours…
  3. If you are going to work for someone, be aware, they may say anything to get you on their “team.” My first job with a chiro, they told me that I would get payed for this or that, and then I would pretty much be walking into a full clientele because they had ALL these people and not enough hands… Well, all those people are choosing to wait 2-4 weeks for a massage by the other massage therapist and I’m going weeks without working AND not being payed to do things I was originally told I would get paid for… Which, isn’t the fault of the lady who hired me…
  4. You are probably going to have massage teachers that try to drill into you, only spa music, only dark rooms, don’t ever let your client move arms/legs/head themselves, don’t let them talk, don’t talk to them other than communication about the pressure, and never let your hands leave their body… It’s OK to let that stuff go… Sometimes a dark room and spa music isn’t someone cup of tea, sometimes it’s easier to move around and do things if you let your hands leave their body, sometimes it’s less stressful for the client to move their arm/leg/head and you are better off letting them do it, sometimes it’s best to talk to them, and sometimes it’s best to not talk at all… you just have to get a feel for your client… and figure out your mojo.
  5. Working in a dark room, sucks… Especially if you are tired… And if you are listening to that stupid “relaxing spa” music, it’s even worse… To say the least, don’t be surprised if you fall asleep while working on your client… If you do, don’t feel bad… You aren’t the only one… Word of advice, play it off like you lost your balance… And then, find some music that is a little more upbeat if you are allowed… If you aren’t allowed… I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…
  6. The stupid “relaxing spa” music… Most people it actually drives them crazy… They want normal music… I got a lot of complaints, people asking to turn it off, asking if I had something else… Another tip, my clients have taken a liking to the “Piano Guys” I play their music for all my sessions, it doesn’t get boring, some of it is a little more upbeat, there’s no words but it gives them something “normal” and just so y’all know, I do refrain from playing their music that is “abnormal” or too upbeat… Like Cello Wars or the Cello Song…
  7. You are going to have crazy clients, and you are going to have boring clients, and you are going to have AWESOME clients… Me personally, I love a client who will hold a conversation, or goof off. Or someone who is totally interested in bodywork and wants me to teach them why massage works and what it does… OR… They are just a mess, and there’s so much to work on that you literally just don’t get bored… Then there are clients that don’t want to talk other than to say “that hurts” and “that feels good” they are boring… and then there’s crazy… We just won’t go into that.
  8. The more you know about anatomy and the fact that where the pain is, is only a symptom of a problem somewhere else, you’ll have a lot more success and people will think you work magic because you fix things without ever touching the spot that hurt.
  9. PEOPLE WILL CRY…. Just pretend to be sympathetic and hope they don’t catch on… I’m still learning to talk to people about pain…. DON’T ask them “how are you feeling?” It’s a dangerous question….
  10. Don’t be surprised if you find you have texture issues… I never thought I would have a problem with skin texture until I felt someone’s back and it felt like really coarse sandpaper… People that have real loose skin on the other hand are fun to play with… And some people, especially heavy set people… make farty sounds when you glide over certain areas of skin… it’s embarrassing as heck for myself, but inside it’s freaking hilarious!
  11. It’s hard on your hands… Nobody tells you this before you start school… So make sure you take care of your hands… I’ve been massaging for a year now, and my thumbs hurt like nobody’s business… It hurts to text, it hurts to hold a glass of water… it hurts to grip… But because massage therapy is so expansive, I’m going to learn new techniques that make it so I don’t have to use my hands as much!
  12. If you like humor and you like to keep things upbeat, look into chair massages… Especially for military! They are freaking hilarious! And just in general chair massage gigs are filled with a lot of banter between co-workers and friends! It’s so much fun! And it’s pretty decent pay…
  13. You will love your job! It may not pay the best at times, and it may be challenging, but it is one of the most rewarding jobs out there, it’s got amazing people, the work atmosphere’s are wonderful and you won’t get tired of it! So if you are considering working in the massage industry, be aware, it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be challenging, but it will pay off, because in the end, you’ve made a difference in someone’s day, whether you are their sanity at the end of a long work day, or because you made them feel that much better, or because you are the “safe” place for them to just let their guard down and chill, it always pays off, and then you feel better for making that persons day. So if you are considering massage as a career, DO IT! Go for it and see how far you can take it! You will LOVE it! And there’s not quite any other job like it! The thing is, whether you choose to be self-employed or work for someone else, it can be done, you just have to get out there and be aggressive, get yourself out there, beef up your resume, and you’ll succeed no matter which way you go!
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