An excellent reputation
is best heard from
someone who went to
the school, who has
worked as a massage
therapist and will refer
and/or recommend a
|Why go to a mediocre school
when you can go to an
HOW TO CHOOSE A MASSAGE SCHOOL
A really good school will not have to do a lot of gimmicky advertising, since the reputation of the school
and word of mouth is the best advertising.
I have a passionate commitment to massage excellence and because I have been in the profession for a
long time I have been part of and witnessed many wonderful advancements as well as areas of concern.
My biggest concern is quality education for massage therapists as they strive to become the future of
massage. There are many excellent massage training programs but there are also many sub standard
programs that do not prepare the graduate for a successful career in massage therapy.
Yes, I have a massage therapy school. The school is 25 years old. The program has changed and the
requirements for therapeutic massage practice has evolved. I have personally made a commitment to
train at least some of the future teachers in the profession. Health Enrichment Center is a small school
by design with limited enrollment and a comprehensive and rigorous educational experience. And yes I
believe with all my heart that the type of educational experience we offer is the best that can be
obtained. That being said—I also have major international exposure to the trend in massage and because
I write the major textbook line for therapeutic massage education, I have a professional responsibility
to remain focused and clear about what students need to know to be successful.
I have consulted for many schools and understand the challenges that schools face and it is from this
perspective that I will provide guidance on choosing a quality massage educational program. More Info
TYPES OF MASSAGE SCHOOLS
Massage education is provided in three basic types of schools -
- Large career school
- Community and private colleges
- Proprietary single program schools
Large career school -
These schools are not colleges but are big and have multiple programs such as medical assisting,
computer technology, nursing assistant, LPN, etc. These schools are typically accredited and usually by
ACCSCT. For this reason these schools can take financial aid offered by the federal government.
Massage would be one of the programs large career schools offer and it is usually not the biggest
program. A massage program can sometimes get lost and are not allocated facilities that it may need
that the larger programs may receive. The quality of the massage programs varies and you want to really
investigate before enrolling. The program lengths are generally around 12 months (maybe a few shorter)
and the contact hours are usually over 720 because that is the number required to quality for full
financial aid benefits. My personal experience with quality education in this educational environment has
been mixed and I have consulted for quite a few massage schools over the years. One of the biggest
problems is staffing and it is hard to find quality teachers. On the positive side, these types of programs
do know how to deliver vocational education and provide student services. Because they take federal
financial aid and are accredited there are lots of people making sure they follow all the rules.
Unfortunately following the rules and delivering a quality program is not the same thing. If investigating
a massage program at a career school makes sure you use the information on curriculum. Make sure that
their graduation rate is at least 60 % of the original enrollment and they have an 80 % placement rate.
If you do not qualify for financial aid these schools are usually much more expensive than other options.
Also ask to sit in on a class, talk to the instructors and current students as well as past graduates. Make
sure to ask the past graduates about how many massages they do a week or how many they are able to do.
Some Cosmetology schools offer massage programs and are accredited by NACCAS and primarily works
with cosmetology programs and education in these program would be similar to the career schools.
Community and private colleges -
Again these school offer many different educational options and offer mostly certificates, diplomas and
some offer an option to continue an associate’s degrees. A few will offer some bachelor’s degrees. If
they have a massage program it is usually in the diploma area and may have a tract plan when you could get
an associate’s degree. These associate degrees are typically in applied sciences and the additional
courses are not massage specific but consist of general education classes. Financial aid is not always
available for diploma programs. Make sure to contact the financial aid office and be clear about what is
available. Often these programs are much more affordable especially if they are at a public community
college since the school would be subsidized by the government. The quality of the massage programs
varies and you want to really investigate before enrolling. The program lengths are generally around 12-
18 months and the contact hours are usually over 720 because that is the number required to quality for
full financial aid benefits. These programs will often require you to take some classes with the general
school population. This is especially true of anatomy and physiology. If the school also offers a nursing
program the nursing student will typically get the first change at enrolling in the course and you may have
to wait. This can extend an 18 month program to two years if you cannot get into the classes you need.
Make sure to check this out. My personal experience has been mixed with these programs. One of the
biggest problems is staffing and it is hard to find quality teachers although overall I think the quality of
instruction is better at the community college than at the career school but remember this varies. The
program quality will be better if it is part of the actual academic programs. Community colleges also
offer enrichment classes and other kinds of non academic vocational training. These types of classes
would not be covered by financial aid.
Most of the community colleges do use Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage but may not use
Essential Sciences because they will have to take the general anatomy and physiology courses. These
science books and the college anatomy and physiology courses can be overwhelming. Many times you have
to pass these courses before you can start the massage related classes. Also almost all of the community
colleges and private colleges will require some sort of general education classes such as English as part
of the graduation requirement. This is not a bad thing but can be a frustrating process for some types of
learners. These schools are accredited as colleges and not specifically for massage.
Proprietary single program schools -
These are typically small privately owned massage therapy schools. Occasionally they may offer a related
program like Asian bodywork or personal trainer. These schools can be at both ends of the spectrum.
Either excellent or terrible. If you are going to attend this category of school it should be accredited or
licensed by an appropriate accrediting or licensed body. For accreditation: ACCSCT is the largest,
COMTA is smaller and only accredits massage schools and ACCET does not accredit as many massage
schools as ACCSCT. Licensing in Michigan for massage therapist is in the process. This means your school
of choice should be one that meets the licensing requirements.
If the school you are considering falls into this category here is what you want to look for: obviously
licensing credentials, average enrollment between 25 and 50, in business for 10 years, single owner,
teachers all have a minimum of 5 years of professional experience and are certified or licensed or both.
Teachers have been with the school for 2 or more years. A curriculum based on the content is outlined on
the curriculum outline page.