As a massage therapist, you may use your fingers, hands or elbows to stroke, knead and manipulate soft body tissue and bring benefits to clients, such as:
- improved muscle and skin tone
- better circulation
- relief from aches and pains associated with muscle tension, such as headaches
- an increased ability to rid the body of toxins.
Your clients could also include those seeking both physical and emotional healing, for example:
- people who are ill or recovering from a period of sickness
- adults who want to manage stress more effectively
- those suffering with anxiety or depression
- people who want to develop their ability to relax.
You could specialise in a particular branch of massage, such as:
- Indian head massage â€“ using particular oils and techniques to relax the neck, shoulders, head and face
- sports massage â€“ treating sports injuries such as sprains, torn ligaments and broken limbs
- baby massage â€“ helping to calm and bond babies with parents
- body massage (also known as Swedish massage) â€“ working on the whole body, especially the limbs and back.
You would usually begin a session by checking the client’s medical history, diet and lifestyle. During treatment, you would apply pressure to specific areas to ease tension and you may also use essential oils. After treatment, you may give advice to clients about how to maintain and build upon their general wellbeing.
What qualifications and experience will employers look for?
To work as aÂ massage therapist,Â professional bodies (such as the General Council for Massage Therapy (GCMT)) suggest you take an in-depth course of at least six months full-time or 12 months part-time. Shorter courses should be seen as an introduction or for general interest only and are not suitable as a preparation for professional practise.
Qualifications are awarded by exam bodies, including the Vocational Training Charitable Trust (VTCT), International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC) and CIBTAC (internationally recognised). You may not need any qualifications to get on to a course, but it could be useful to have a GCSE in biology or human biology, or a City & Guilds, VTCT or ITEC Certificate in anatomy and physiology; check with course providers for exact details.
- Vocational Training Charitable Trust
- International Therapy Examination Council
Some courses meet the criteria for membership of a professional body, like the Federation of Holistic Therapists, the Massage Institute and the GCMT â€“ you should check this before you enrol.
To specialise in a particular form of massage, such as baby and infant massage or sports massage, you will need to take additional training in that branch. Check the websites of the Guild of Infant and Child Massage, and the Sports Massage Association for details.
You may be able to get into this job through a beauty therapy Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find ourÂ more aboutÂ Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
A driving licence will be useful if you are self-employed.
What further training and development can I do?
You will have access to development programmes and networking opportunities (which may benefit your career), if youÂ join a professional body such as:
- the Federation of Holistic Therapists
- the Massage Training Institute
- the Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine
- the General Council for Massage Therapy (GCMT).
Check their websites for details and membership criteria.
Organisations from a variety of complementary therapies, including massage therapy, have worked to create a single (voluntary) regulatory body, known as the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). The aim of the CNHC is to protect the public by registering practitioners, setting standards for safe practice and providing a means of redress if things go wrong.
It is anticipated that health professionals and the public will use the CNHC register to check if a therapist is of sufficient standard, so it may help your reputation and business if you are registered.
Massage is one of the first areas to have access to the CNHC register. You can join via your professional body (check with them for details) or directly through the CNHC website.
- Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council