Making a decision about a massage school is no different that selecting any other learning institution.
The most critical factor in the decision making process is determining what you want to accomplish with your training. Are you interested in offering massage as a form of relaxation or for therapeutic purposes? Would you like to work with medical patients, athletes or a variety of clients? Alone or with a team?
Techniques & Philosophy
In addition to the type of practice you should investigate the various massage techniques to see if a particular approach or philosophy is more appealing than others. Acupressure, Swedish, Rolfing, Reiki, Sports Massage, Shiatsu, Deep Tissue, Deep Muscle, etc. Each technique offers a particular benefit and massage schools may offer training in a variety of these techniques or be highly specialized.
Researching Schools in Your Area
Once you have narrowed your focus, you can begin reviewing massage schools in your area to find out which ones are compatible with you interests. Once located, you should contact each school to obtain a catalogue and any other literature that identifies details, costs and requirements for the programs offered by the school.
Make sure that you identify the licensing requirements for the state in which you intend to practice. Pay particular attention to the number of education hours and the exam requirements. As you examine your candidate schools you will need to make certain that you will be able to meet all licensing requirements by matching them up with the programs offered by each massage school.
Pay a visit to each massage school that you are considering. Talk to the admissions staff and notice how professionally you are treated. Do they answer your questions thoroughly and convincingly? Do they make you feel comfortable or are they trying to “sell” the school to you?
Tour the school and examine the classroom and training facilities. Is the school clean and sanitary? Is the equipment modern and well maintained? Does the facility feel like it will be comfortable environment for learning?
Find out whether the schools have received any accreditation. There are a number of organizations approved by the United States Department of Education to provide accreditation to massage schools. Some of these groups focus on broad educational standards while others use occupational training standards. Still other have an even narrower focus on health and even, very specifically, massage credentials.
The cost to attend a massage school is directly related to your goals and the type of institution that you choose. If you are intending to practice massage therapy in a state that does not require a license you can probably become certified for as little as $1,000. But if you aspire to a career as a respected professional, and intend to fulfill or exceed all licensing requirements, programs may require 600-900 hours of training. Costs could range from $6,000 to $9,000.
Financial aid is available for a massage therapy education. Federal loans and grants are available for federally accredited schools. Low interest education loans are also available and the school should be able to direct you to appropriate lending agencies.
Seek out alumni from the massage schools that you are considering. Talk to them about their experience while attending the school and their subsequent contact with the school after graduation. Determine if the school has been supportive with career guidance and job placement assistance. Alumni feedback is an excellent means of determining if investing time and money in a particular massage school provides long-term benefits.
Remember, the more information that you acquire and the more questions that you ask, the better equipped you will be to make a sound decision. Massage therapy is a career that offers the potential for immense personal and professional satisfaction.
With the proper training and guidance you will literally have in your hands the power to positively alter the physical and mental well-being of many appreciative individuals. The time you take to give thoughtful consideration about your choice of a massage school will pay dividends for many years to come.