14 Best Massage Therapy Schools in the US | Cost & Facts

Are you ready to begin a new chapter in your life and shift into a career that you truly love? Then the best massage therapy schools in the US are there to help you build your massage therapy career.

As of May 2017, massage therapists earn a median salary of $39,990 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who are among the lowest ten per cent of earners receive $20,300, while the top ten per cent earn $77,470.

The importance of massage therapists cannot be overemphasized, it is becoming more and more popular because people are constantly searching for alternative healing and relaxation methods.

Keep reading as we list the best massage therapy schools in the US and explore the many possibilities of a massage therapy career.

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What can a massage therapy career mean for you?

There are varieties of career options for you once you choose this path. As a massage therapist that has so many options and opportunities to choose from, you can work in spas, franchised clinics, physicians’ offices, hotels, and fitness centres.

Massage therapists also offer home and in-office massages for their convenience. Therefore, not only does the massage therapy career offer versatility but you could also have the opportunity to be your own boss.

Types of Massages to look out for in your massage therapy school

In the best massage therapy schools in the US, you can look out to be taught various types of massages such as Hot Stone Massage, Polarity Massage, Prenatal Massage, Lymphatic Massage, Reflexology, Myofascial, Back Facials, Muscle, Sports, Therapeutic, and Relaxation massages.

Massage therapy career outlook

Having talked about the opportunities in a massage therapy career, maybe you still have doubts whether massage therapy is still a good career.

Statistically speaking, the employment of massage therapists is projected to grow by 22 per cent from 2018 to 2028 according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This rate is much faster than the average for all occupations. When considering a career path, the projected job growth can be considered as well as the personal benefits of a massage therapy career.

One of the benefits massage therapy will offer you is its flexibility. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, many massage therapists could choose either a part-time or full-time schedule.

Not only does a massage therapy career offer flexibility, but it also gives you a chance to have a positive impact on people’s lives.

A lot of people who are in pain, looking for rest and ease require the services of massage therapists.

In the best massage therapy schools in the US, you could learn different massage techniques to help bring the relief clients seek.

So in general, Massage Therapy has become an important part of general health care for a lot of people in The United States.

The profession has increased in consumer awareness and is positioned today at the cutting edge of the preventive and rehabilitative healthcare industry.

What is the first step towards a massage therapy career?

Finding and enrolling on the best massage therapy schools in the US is one of the first steps towards your new career.

Students who are going for a massage therapy career have the chance to learn the common massage therapy techniques such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, neuromuscular therapy, sports massage, and even participate in a supervised clinical experience for hands-on learning approach.

In the best massage therapy schools in the US, curriculums in massage therapy training schools are usually designed to help prepare the students for examinations, such as the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination(MBLEX).

When you are about choosing a massage training school, you must choose a program that will teach you everything that you need to know for an entry-level position, once licensed.

Choosing the school right school is a crucial part of your journey towards a successful massage therapy career.

Where can massage therapists work?

After attending the best massage therapy schools in the US, you can work in either of the following places:

  • Chiropractors’ Offices
  • Rehabilitation Clinics
  • Nursing Homes
  • Hospitals
  • Resorts
  • Spas
  • Hotels
  • Salons
  • Cruise Ships
  • Athletic Clubs
  • Private Offices
  • Fitness Facilities
  • Health Care Facilities
  • Massage Therapy \Clinics
  • Physical Therapy Facilities

A lot of times, massage therapists prefer to work independently, building and maintaining a private practice that consists of clients who have a wide range of reasons for seeking care from a Massage Therapist.

Steps to get your Massage Therapy License

  • Complete a massage therapy program
  • Complete practical requirements
  • Pass the licensing examination
  • Apply for a state license
  • Complete a certification

Complete a massage therapy program

As a prospective massage therapist, you will need to complete a certificate or diploma degree program from an accredited school that is approved by the State.

During their studies, future massage therapists may take coursework in medical terminology, body mechanics, massage ethics, anatomy, and physiology.

Complete practical requirements

Each state in the United States has a requirement for the number of hours of hands-on experience massage students must have before they can obtain their license.

This can be achieved through an internship and/or working at a school’s massage clinic.

Pass the licensing examination

After completing your massage therapy program, a licensing examination is required. In some cases, state in the country requires completion of the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination(MBLEx).

The MBLEx, which is administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), is a 100-question test that must be completed in just under two hours.

They cover the following areas in the examination:

  • Ethics
  • Client assessment
  • Kinesology
  • Physical effects of Massage

Apply for a state license

Prospective massage therapists must put in an application and provide proof that they have met the requirements for a license.

Those who want to pursue a massage therapy career can find information about each state’s licensing requirements on the American Massage Therapy Association’s website.

Complete a certification

A certification-which is usually earned by completing a certain number of clinical hours and an examination-is not necessarily required to get a massage therapy license, but it can make the process easier in most cases.

Other massage therapy certifications can be earned in:

  • veterinary massage
  • palliative care
  • sports massage
  • spa management
  • clinical rehabilitative message

The cost of Massage Therapy Schools

Before choosing any of the best massage therapy schools in the US, their tuition and payment options should be one of the things you must consider.

Most state health boards require around 500 to 600 hours of training and passing the MBLEx (Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam) before you can call yourself a licensed massage therapist.

Therefore, most programs of this duration requires to have their tuition cost per hour of training is in the range of $6 – $17. This translates to a program cost in the range of $3,000 – $11,000.

There are other contributors to the cost of the programs at these best massage therapy schools in the US such as:

  • application fee
  • cost of massage table and table linen
  • cost of lotions and creams
  • cost of textbooks and other study material
  • licensing cost

Considerations in Selecting the best massage therapy schools in the US

Choosing the best massage therapy schools in the US can be a daunting task for you. To make the best choice, it is important to be informed.

Below are several considerations that we have put up together which will help you in determining which massage school is right for you.

1. Is the school Nationally Accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education?

Any of the massage therapy schools that you are about to choose have valid credentials and must be approved by the State Massage Therapy Board.

The school must be licensed by the state, certified by a professional association which indicates a level of quality.

Membership in various professional massage associations shows allegiance to the profession and industry standards.

Some of the Massage associations to look for are:

  • Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP)
  • American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)
  • Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF)
  • Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE)
  • Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB)

2. Does the massage program hours meet the State requirement?

Each state has their requirements. For instance, Michigan requires a minimum of 625 supervised hours of training in order to get a massage license.

3. How much is tuition?

The cost of the massage therapy school is so important and you must check out the cost of the institution before enrolling.

Does the school provide financial aid and scholarships?

Financial aid and scholarships are important considerations for students. Therefore when measuring the cost, calculate the hourly tuition rate and divide the total tuition by the number of hours in the program.

What are the massage school’s Completion and Placement Statistics?

It is very important to take note of what percentage of students actually graduate and how many graduates practice in the field of massage therapy.

4. Other questions to ask:

5. Does the massage school pay for your massage licensing exam?

6. Does the massage school help you apply for a state massage license?

7. What is the school’s massage licensing exam pass rate?

8. Does the school in question have an advisor or staff to guide you through school?

9. What are the massage instructor’s qualifications and how long have they been teaching? Massage therapists with several years of experience are preferable.

10. . How long has the school been teaching a massage program? 

11. Do their class schedules fit into your busy life?

12.  Does the school have a professionally run student massage clinic where students get hands-on training?

The List of best massage therapy schools in the US

Below are the popular best massage therapy schools in the US:

  • Parker University School of Massage Therapy (Dallas, TX)
  • Miami Dade College (Miami, FL) Miami Dade College (Miami, FL)
  • National Holistic Institute Emeryville Massage School (Emeryville, CA)
  • New York College of Health Professions (Muttontown, NY)
  • Northwestern Health Sciences University (Bloomington, MN)
  • National University of Health Sciences (Lombard, IL)
  • Lincoln Technical Institute (Somerville, MA)
  • Myotherapy College of Utah (Millcreek, UT)
  • Southern California University of Health Sciences (Whittier, CA)
  • Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (Tempe, AZ)
  • Cortiva Institute Schools of Massage Therapy
  • Bryan College
  • Everest College
  • National Massage Therapy Institute

Parker University School of Massage Therapy (Dallas, TX)

And finally, at the top of this list of best schools, Parker University offers a top-rated Massage Therapy Certification at its Dallas campus.

Plus, if students elect to take a few general education courses as well, they can also graduate with an Associate’s of Applied Science.

Students gain 600 hours of hands-on training, ensuring they are prepared for careers as massage therapists after graduation.

Students at Parker receive a well-rounded education in addition to many opportunities for hands-on learning.

For example, students hone their skills in using massage to relieve pain and stress and to help clients recover after injuries.

Furthermore, Parker’s faculty also assist students in developing their business goals, just another way the school ensures its graduates are ready for successful careers in the healthcare industry. 

Miami Dade College (Miami, FL) Miami Dade College (Miami, FL)

Miami Dade Community College offers a massage therapy program on its Medical Campus. Specifically, students can pursue a Career Technical Certificate in massage therapy while studying techniques like deep tissue and sports massage.

Plus, they can choose between traditional and accelerated tracks depending on their previous education and experience level.

However, the Miami Dade curriculum is very demanding.

Therefore, the school recommends that students attend class full-time, as they tend to be more successful.

In addition, if students do not have at least an associate’s degree, they must pass the Test of Adult Basic Education before starting the program.

This exam helps the program know that students can thrive in this rigorous curriculum that includes lectures mixed with clinical opportunities at the Miami Dade Medical Campus. 

National Holistic Institute Emeryville Massage School (Emeryville, CA)

The National Holistic Institute is wholly devoted to training massage therapists.

It’s also one of the largest massage therapy colleges in the country, with ten campuses spread throughout California. In fact, it was also the state’s first massage therapy school to be nationally accredited.

Students can choose between an 8-month Massage Therapy Training Program or the Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy Program for advanced practitioners.

And since the institute is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, students can also apply for federal financial aid.

The instructors at NHI are known for incorporating different teaching styles into their curriculum because they understand that students learn differently.

And as a result of their high standards of teaching, over 87% of their graduates go on to work in the field as massage therapists.

New York College of Health Professions (Muttontown, NY)

The New York College of Health Professions has been a leader in holistic healthcare education since the 1980s.

Moreover, the college is the only private, non-profit institution of its kind in NYC that is institutionally accredited.

The school emphasizes training, community service, and research alike, so students get a balanced education.

Plus, students can earn an Associate’s degree in Occupational Studies that make them eligible to sit for the Massage Board licensing exam in New York.

The program can be completed in 20-24 months, depending on whether students attend full-time or part-time.

In addition to training in traditional European Swedish massage and Asian Bodywork, students also learn about holistic health care.

Specifically, the program also teaches about the connections between massage and maintaining certain health conditions like neuromuscular diseases and even asthma and diabetes.

Northwestern Health Sciences University (Bloomington, MN)

Northwestern Health Science University offers a comprehensive and evidence-based education in natural healthcare.

Massage therapy students have the chance to learn alongside students studying related disciplines like chiropractic studies, Chinese medicine, and acupuncture.

Furthermore, NWHSU teaches a collaborative approach to patient-focused health, giving students the skills they need to work with teams of other providers in healthcare facilities and hospitals.

Specifically, the NWHSU massage therapy program stresses natural and drug-free care that is non-invasive. 

National University of Health Sciences (Lombard, IL)

Since 1906, National University has been educating students in integrative and natural medicine, striking a balance between the science and art of patient-focused care.

In fact, the school was the first to publish peer-reviewed scientific journals in natural health care.

In addition to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in the health sciences, National University also offers a massage therapy certification program and an Associate’s degree in Applied Science in Massage Therapy.

These accredited programs train students in Swedish and sports massage as well as specific techniques like neuromuscular facilitation. 

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 the 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. 

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.

Southern California University of Health Sciences (Whittier, CA)

At SCU’s School of Professional Studies, students can enrol 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. 

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.

Massage Therapy Classes | 4 Amazing Career Benefits to Consider

As a massage therapist, you have the chance to benefit from a number of benefits such as a flexible schedule as we stated earlier. Taking massage therapy classes can be a great way for you to take your passion by the reins.

In this section, we will be talking about how taking massage therapy classes can lead to 4 amazing career benefits.

  • Massage therapy has a strong career outlook
  • Massage therapy has a great career flexibility
  • Massage therapy gives you the ability to be your own boss
  • Massage therapy gives you fulfillment

See details about these benefits. Have you seen all that a career in massage therapy could hold for you? 

Please share your thoughts about these best massage therapy schools in the US below.


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