How is the economy effecting Massage Therapy?

  1. Im wondering if anyone here has recent experience with Massage Therapy in this economy? I am thinking about going to MT school. Anyone here doing massage full time? If so, are you able to support yourself? How do you like your career?

  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   jahra
    I have an esthetics diploma and here in many parts of the
    Northeast, there is little work even in plastic surgery. Same for
    massage therapy.

    See if you can find the massage therapy association in your state
    and talk directly with those who are working in the field now.
    See if you can get some answers as to how the business is doing
    in your area.

    As a contrast, physical therapy is booming here, lots of new offices opening.

    You may already this reference, but here is a link for the
    national massage association..

    Good luck!
  4. by   Breevdk
    Hi there, I have been a massage therapist for 3 years in 2 states. Initially I was going for nursing but, prudent as I was back then, I started as CNA to see if this field was really for me. I did not want to commit for 2 or 4 years and not be completely sure. Ho boy I am glad I did because, honestly, I just NEVER got used to the gross stuff. I cannot deal with human bodily fluids other than small quantity! Blood never bothered me but feces, urine, pus...I just could not take it.

    Massage therapy had always been in the back of my mind and I had the good luck of being in AK in 08 and I found a good school very affordable ($10,000) to complete my diploma in 9 months. So from there, I can answer your question relative to the effect of the economy on this field. First of all, I have to say I LOVE my job and I am good at it but I never expect to become rich. In AK, where the job situation is actually very good, it was not hard to land a job and even though the 1st year was slow, the second was fruitful and I made about 40K. This being said, wherever you start, chiropractor or spa or gym club, you need to build a clientele and it can take 1 year during which most of my fellow students gave up. I had to work for 3 differents places to make it, this being said I loved it for it was fun and it gave me invaluable experience in various setting.

    And then, well I switched to GA (military spouse!) just 4 months ago. It is not fun to start all over again and pretty rapidly, I realized that the economic downturn had affected the state pretty hard. I have applied for as much as 10 places in a 10 mile radius and finally found a spa 3 weeks ago that I really like but can only provide me with so much business. I consider myself a part time and this is not a choice, this is just all there is right now.

    I have met several of my fellow massage therapists in the area and they have all told me that the recession had hit them to some effect. The ones who stay are the one who have a strong passion for massage. So in my humble opinion, if you want to strike it rich, pick something else.
  5. by   rn/writer
    I have a daughter who complete MT school in August. She was hired at a Massage Envy office before she left school and now works part time. She makes decent money and sometimes makes half again as much in tips. Building a regular clientele is important. She is doing this and also getting referrals from satisfied customers.

    Sometimes people cut back on things like makeup, hair styling, and massage during tough times, but not always. It can be the little things that make you feel better that help you get through the stress.

    I wish you the best.
  6. by   Breevdk
    I quote you: Sometimes people cut back on things like makeup, hair styling, and massage during tough times.
    Yep, you are exactly right and this is why massage therapy is not the field to prefer over let's say nursing or PT. Health care is recession-proof. Massage is not.
  7. by   rn/writer
    I guess you've never heard of the Lipstick Theory in economics. People who cut back on buying a new car or taking a vacation or spending money on a plasma TV sometimes comfort themselves with small luxuries--high-end makeup, hair styling, a name brand purse, a massage. This is a real thing.

    We're obviously not talking about folks who are struggling to put food on the table. But there are plenty of others who have dialed their spending on big-ticket items down to small indulgences. The theory is that they feel entitled to some lesser rewards after having given up the expensive stuff.

    My daughter has never hurt for clients, and in fact, could work every day of the week if she chose to. MTs work in medical or chiropractic offices and are seeing many patients there, as well.

    The advantages--at the moment--of going for MT over nursing is that employment is easier to find, schooling is shorter and a little less grueling, and the cost is a lot less than many nursing students have to pay. Besides, she makes good money in tips that a nurse would never see. Tips included, she's probably making $25/hr.

    Once nursing picks back up, this will most likely change, but in the short term, massage therapy is a great option and may even help someone pay their way through nursing school should they decide to go that route later.
  8. by   brandy1017
    I think its true people are cutting back on seeming luxuries, but on the other hand many are not! I would never have considered massage a viable job. Now I think the way the economy is becoming a beautician would be a more viable job than massage. Don't you think more people are going to spend the money at a hair salon than a massage or spa.

    Many people spend lots of money on their hair and makeup. I imagine there is a lot more of a market for hair than massage. Maybe this is another avenue people should consider. My aunt is a beautician and has worked for others and owned her own salon. I always thought of it as poorly paying, but didn't factor in the tips. Also many of her clients give her gifts and are aware of good contractors, plumbers, etc that can do good service and offer a fair rate.

    In the end she ended up working as a hospital in the catering dept for the benefits, particularly health insurance and then created a home salon for her clients in her off hours. She had to meet all the state requirments and construction to make the home disable friendly.
  9. by   hgrimmett
    Florida has way more MTs than any other state thanks to all the diploma mills. There's very few massage jobs here. That's why I started nursing school last month. FWIW I am a damn good MT.

    Oh, and don't work for Massage Envy. They only pay $12-14 an hour, if you're lucky. That is not what I call good money. I made more $ than that doing software tech support (before that job got outsourced to the Philippines..) ME is a franchise outfit, so there's very little quality control from one location to the next. And any massage therapist who thinks they can work 40 hours a week anywhere (whether self employed or for a chiro) is just asking for fast burnout.

    Re the lipstick theory mentioned above - it doesn't trickle down to massage so much. People will treat themselves to a nice $20-25 dollar dinner out before they will pay $60-75 for a quality massage. The economy is still depressed and it's going to be a long while yet before it gets better. :-\
  10. by   thelema13
    My wife is an MT in Florida, initial job was at a chiro office, he was charging clients $60/hr but my wife would receive $15/hr plus tips, and have to supply her own massage creams.

    So we brainstormed, she got a small office on the highway out of an assisted living-type facility and does not pay rent, rather trades an hour massage per week to the building owner and his wife. Also, she chips in on utilities. Instead of charging $60/hr like everyone else in town, she charges $35/hr. She is booked solid and has built quite a reputation. With $60/hr rates, she was getting ~10-20 massages a week, now at $35/hr she does 20-40 massages a week, gets way better tips, and basically cannot accept any new clients due to a strong clientele.

    Her rationale- "I would rather make $35/hr and be working full time than charge $60/hr and be worried about having work."

    People see $35/hr and jump on it, I have let my nursing colleagues know and she still gets $60+/hr including tips, regularly.

    Hope this helps.
  11. by   nurse5753
    I am a nurse of 35 years and became a massage therapist in 1999. I feel I have the best of both worlds. I enjoy the nursing and it gives me health insurance benefits, but felt that I needed to do something different so went to school for massage. Since graduation, I have devoted one day a week to massage and still work 4 days at the hospital. The reality is that neither profession will make you rich. However the satisfaction of helping people is its own reward. I admire all who do massage therapy full time as it is more physically demanding than nursing. It has helped me to be more self aware in many ways.
    Last edit by nurse5753 on Mar 1, '12
  12. by   trinitypixie
    I am a licenced massage therapist, have been for about 6 yrs, and the economic crash was devistating. So much so that I decided to go back to school to become a nurse with massage focus. I specialize in rehabilitation already so I thought it would be a good blend of skills with better long term stability. I have been concerned with finding work that emphysizes the massage therapy aspect. In my 6 yrs, massage never really paid the bills but it is a passion so I stuck with it. I could have probably done better financially if I worked in the spas but my focus is medical massage and if insurance companies won't pay for it often patients won't either. If you are already a nurse transfering to massage the pay cut would be devistating. However I have been "assured" by many nursing school recruiters that the demand for a combination of alternative modalities with nursing is increasing. If this is what you are considering then I would recommend a school with limited modalities, no more than 6, so you get a sound foundation in massage. Many schools offer too many modalities in their basic program so you get a lot of surface learning but no deep foundation in the basic modalities.
  13. by   learning247
    I am a part time massage therapist (full time nursing school student!), living in Chicago. I've been a full time working MT for about 5 years up until a couple years ago when my employer started doing Groupons, and my pay got cut in half, and I decided to channel my ambitions for helping people into nursing. I want to caution that in the spa/massage industry, whether it's a chiropractor, or a spa, or a hotel, both your clients and your employer (not all the time of course, but enough that it makes you a little sad) will try to get one over on you. And when people say "you probably won't get rich," what they mean is, "you'll probably not make more than $30,000/year full time." Of course, everyone's experience is different, and where I am in my life, I've not pursued a more entrepreneurial direction with my skills. I love love love massage. There really is no other profession as inherently rewarding. But I need to be able to retire and take care of my mother, and I can't bank on finding a rich spouse. God just didn't make me like that. ;-)
    But you know, I will always treasure my education and experiences as an MT, learning the different modalities, the different ways that TCM and Aruvedic medicine regards the body/mind/spirit, my instructors, peers, and clients. I plan on continuing practicing massage for as long as my body will let me.
  14. by   Sam J.
    At least Groupon normally has a limit on their 'specials'. And even worse than spas that charge $90, or even $200 for a massage (yet pay those therapists maybe 20% of that), are places like Massage Envy. ME might only charge $30 or so after the monthly fee, but the therapist might only be paid $15 an hour or so, and then depend on your generous tips to pay their bills. If you think about this, you are really not saving money by going to such places. And, if your massage therapist ain't happy, you are not going to receive the best of their ability.

    Here's the better option: Support your local, independent massage therapists! They are worth their weight in GOLD.