7 Steps to Starting your Career as a Massage Therapist

Our 7-step guide to starting your career in massage therapy.

A career as a massage therapist offers many exciting benefits. As a certified massage therapist, you have a rewarding opportunity to help people in your community improve their well-being while enjoying the flexibility that comes with the ability to work independently.

However, the process of starting a new career as a massage therapist can be a bit overwhelming - especially if you are starting from scratch. But by following the steps below, you can enjoy a seamless transition to career life as a massage therapist.

Below is your 7-step guide to starting your career in massage therapy. 


Step One: Complete Recommended Training

There is no substitute for comprehensive education and training to prepare you for a successful career in massage therapy. Completing a recommended training course by an approved organisation will provide you with the solid foundation that you need to prosper in your field.

As you consider possible options, remember not all training providers are created equal. Choosing an IICT Approved Training Provider will help you enhance your industry reputation and enhance your chances of securing employment with a well-established employer.


Step Two: Seek Certification 

Many Australia organisations require massage therapists to be certified by a government-accredited training facility. Current industry certifications include the Certificate IV in Massage Therapy Practice (HLT40302/07 or HLT40312). The Certificate IV in Massage Therapy Practice is useful because certified therapists have received training in the following areas:

  • Specific massage techniques
  • Common injuries that may affect clients
  • Ethics and law in practice
  • Injury prevention
  • Neuromuscular techniques

Additionally, certified students have received hands-on supervised experience giving future clients a comprehensive oiled body massage. Additionally, students receive valuable exposure to massage therapists who are practising in private clinics, in-house facilities, and other locations. 


Step Three: Determine What Type of Work Setting you Prefer

Now that you have completed your education and certification, it is time to decide whether you wish to start your own private practice or go to work for an employer. According to the Australian Government's job outlook, there will be approximately 15,000 job openings over the next 5 years. Fewer than half of the massage therapists in Australia work full-time, highlighting the flexibility of massage therapy as a career.

Here are some of the many types of work settings from which to choose:

  • Private practice: A large percentage of massage therapists work independently and enjoy running their own business.
  • Hospitals and medical centres: Working in this type of setting offers stability and a predictable schedule.
  • Athletic facilities and gyms: Massage therapists who specialise in sports massage often gravitate toward athletic facilities. 
  • Private clubs: Working for a private club or organisation provides an opportunity to establish a steady stream of regular customers.
  • Health spas: Medical spas are cropping up across Australia and are a good choice for therapists who enjoy a fairly fast-paced environment.
  • Cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts: These work settings are ideal if you enjoy travel and meeting people from across the glove.

Step Four: Prepare Your CV

Once you have decided which type of work setting you prefer, it is time to develop a customised CV that reflects your objectives and work experience. Be sure to include your education, special certifications and memberships (for example your IICT Professional Membership), in addition to your practical experience.

Additionally, highlight any soft skills you possess that may help set you apart from other prospective hires. Examples include a strong work ethic, superb communication skills, excellent time management skills, and problem-solving abilities. 


Step Five: Develop a Stellar Business Plan

If you decide to launch a private practice, you will need to prepare a business plan.

The Australian Government outlines three primary reasons to develop a business plan. First, a solid business plan will help you secure financing for expenses related to equipment, supplies, and advertising. Second, a business plan can help you prioritise your goals. And third, a sound business plan will help you gain control of your business. 

By preparing a massage business plan, you can help secure your long-term success as a massage therapist. A well-organised business plan will contain five essential components:

  • Your financial goals
  • A strategic marketing plan
  • Education and training
  • A great insurance policy
  • Regular review of your business plan

Step Six: Start Seeking Positions... or Clients!

If you are launching your own practice, it is now time to kick off your marketing campaign. Or if you are seeking part-time or full-time employment, it is time to begin applying for positions.

Whether you are seeking new clients for your own practice or pursuing a position with an employer, make sure to follow up on each and every attractive opportunity. Diligence can help set you apart from your competition and earn the job or business you need to jump start your career.


Step Seven: Seek Guidance from an Inspiring Mentor

"A mentor is an experienced colleague who can can provide invaluable guidance to you as you begin your career and advance in it. He or she may work for the same organisation, but doesn't have to."

- Dawn Rosenberg McKay, The Balance Careers


Seeking a mentor in the massage therapy field is beneficial in many ways. First, mentors can provide valuable professional advice and support as you embark upon your career path. Second, they can suggest a course of action when challenges arise. For instance, they can give you suggestions to help you ask for a raise.

Finally, mentors serve as professional role models who showcase proper business etiquette. Here are some tips to follow when choosing a mentor:

  • Seek a mentor with at least several years of experience as a massage therapist
  • Look for a mentor who shares your career goals and objectives
  • Do your best to accommodate your mentor's schedule

What is the single best step to beginning a career in massage therapy?

By following the steps outlined above, you will be well on your way to starting a fulfilling career as a massage therapist. However, the most important step you can take to embark upon a career in massage therapy is to join the International Institute for Complimentary Therapists (IICT).

IICT offers the support and resources you need to succeed as a new massage therapist. In addition to providing professional membership, the IICT offers competitively-priced insurance for 80 different massage modalities. 

Contact IICT today to find out more about the benefits of joining our organisation. We look forward to helping you embark upon a rewarding career in massage therapy!

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