Average salary of Massage Therapists
Massage therapists can treat an aching back.
Massage therapists manipulate their clients' muscles and other soft tissues to provide relaxation, stress relief and pain reduction. They may travel to clients' homes; have their own studios; or work in spas, hospitals or fitness centers. Their income can combine a salary and tips.
The 63, 810 massage therapists in the U.S. in 2011 earned an average salary of $39, 920 a year, or $19.19 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These professionals analyze their clients' symptoms and ask questions about their medical history. Then they use their hands, fingers, forearms, elbows and feet to knead their clients' muscles. Massages can last from five minutes to more than hour.
Pay by Employer
The biggest employers of massage therapists in 2011 were personal care services, which included therapists with their own studios. The 28, 670 professionals in this group averaged $38, 150 a year, or $18.34 an hour. The highest salaries were in other services that focused on health screening and physical fitness evaluation. Average pay reached $58, 640, or $28.19 an hour. Next for wages were specialty hospitals that did not include psychiatry or substance abuse facilities. Averages there were $56, 310, or $27.07 an hour.
Related Reading: Standard Massage Therapy Job Descriptions & Salaries
Wages by Location
The state with the most massage therapists was California. The average pay for the 9, 670 practitioners there was $38, 140, or $18.34 an hour. The state's biggest city, Los Angeles, boasted the most massage therapy jobs of any metro area, with 2, 130 therapists averaging $38, 390, or $18.46 an hour. The state with the highest pay was Alaska, where a high cost of living pushed average salaries to $86, 260, or $41.47 an hour. That state's largest city, Anchorage, had the highest average pay for any metro area, $86, 320, or $41.50 an hour.
State requirements for massage therapists vary but typically include 500 or more hours of postsecondary training in private or public schools. A high school diploma is needed to enter such programs, where students learn physiology, body mechanics, business managements and ethics. They also receive hands-on practice of massage techniques. About 43 states and the District of Columbia regulate the profession, and some cities also have regulations. States may have their own exams or recognize one of two national tests: the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination or the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.