Massage therapists can work in spas, hospitals, fitness centers, specialty massage clinics, and even hospitals. Or, they can open their own private offices. Some even travel to clients’ homes or places of business to offer personalized therapy sessions. And although some massage therapists choose to work alone in private practice, others work with teams of health and wellness professionals to provide their patients with comprehensive care. Plus, massage therapists often can work full- or part-time, giving them flexibility in their work schedules.
The best schools are often nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage, or another national or state-specific massage therapy council. So, before making their final pick, students should verify a school’s accreditation status.
In addition, students should verify that the school offers the proper training—including clinical experiences—needed to sit for the board certification exams in their state. After all, in most states, massage therapists must be licensed or certified, and those licenses can only be obtained through a combination of education and examinations.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for massage therapists is robust. In fact, the field is expected to grow an incredible 21% over the next decade, which is much faster than most other occupations. So now could be an excellent time to pursue a career in massage therapy.
Here are the top 10 massage therapy schools in the US.
10. Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (Tempe, AZ)
The Southwest Institute of Healing Arts has been training students to become massage therapists for almost 30 years and offers a variety of degrees and courses. SWIHA has two tracks: the Therapeutic Track or the Advanced Polarity Specialist. Diplomas are awarded after 750 to 1,000 hours of hands-on instruction. Furthermore, students can also pursue an Associate’s Degree in Occupational Studies. But regardless of which path students pick, they will learn all of the core skills needed for classically trained massage therapists.
Classes are flexible, and students can choose between morning and evening courses. Additionally, classes start in both the summer and the fall. SWIHA even allows potential students to sit in on classes for up to 4 hours to see if education in massage therapy is right for them.
9. Southern California University of Health Sciences (Whittier, CA)
At SCU’s School of Professional Studies, students can enroll in a 7-month, 13-course program to earn a certificate in massage therapy, which is approved by the California Massage Therapy Council and enables graduates to sit for board licensing exams. The curriculum is a mix of lecture courses and lab hours; in fact, over half of the program is devoted to hands-on experiences. In addition, students must take a clinical clerkship before graduation for even more practical learning in examining and caring for patients.
Through this program, students will gain basic science knowledge of anatomy and physiology, master massage and bodywork techniques, and understand how massage therapy can be integrated into other self-care practices. Classes are held in the evenings and on weekends, allowing students to continue to work during the day if needed.
8. Myotherapy College of Utah (Millcreek, UT)
Myotherapy College has been teaching students a clinical approach to massage therapy since 1987. The instructors at the Myotherapy College believe that the act of massage can be a form of self-empowerment. Therefore, they teach students to recognize the associations between the mind and body. Plus, students are encouraged to understand why their clients are seeking out a massage in the first place, which can help improve a client’s overall healing experience.
Students at MCU learn the anatomy of the human body, including how muscles are connected to the muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems. The college keeps class sizes small so that all students have ample one-on-one time with their instructors. And students have many opportunities to refine their massage skills at the in-house clinic where they work with real clients with the assistance of established professionals.
7. Lincoln Technical Institute (Somerville, MA)
Lincoln Tech is part of the Lincoln Group of Schools, an institution that has been training students in a variety of medical and technical fields for more than 70 years at campuses across the country. Therefore, students who choose Lincoln Tech become part of a network of professionals helping students get the practical knowledge they need to succeed in their chosen field. At the Somerville campus, students can study to become massage therapists as well as other healthcare careers like medical and dental assistants.
The school notes that for Massachusetts students, the need for massage therapists in that state is very strong. So, students pursuing a Massage Therapist and Bodywork Technician Diploma are given the foundations they need to meet that demand. Through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on learning, instructors teach anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and deep tissue therapy along with medical ethics.