Becoming A Massage Therapist

becoming a massage therapist

How to Become a Massage Therapist

Nationally certified massage therapist Linda O. Gutowski, LMT, NCTMB talks about going to massage therapy school.

Linda graduated from the Utah College of Massage Therapy in 1998 and has been practicing in Decatur, Alabama since. She has her own blog that discusses issue concerning the massage therapy field called fingertips.

Here is what Linda told us about how she choose the Utah College of Massage Therapy program.

I’ve been a practicing massage therapist for 8 years, however, it was not my first career choice. I was a graphic designer in corporate Washington, DC, when I was involved in an automobile accident.

Car Accident

I had whiplash, which after six months of waiting, was not going away. I could not drop my head back to look up at the sky without it feeling like there was an ice pick in the back of my head.

I sought Physical Therapy. I was so impressed with the Craniosacral Therapy that the PT used, I wanted to know how I could do that, too. Frustrated with where my career was heading, I sought the quickest route to becoming a bodywork practitioner and that solution was massage therapy.

Becoming a massage therapist took some planning.

For three years I saved money by moving away from expensive Washington, DC and living with my sister in the rural south. During that time I did my homework looking for massage schools. First I looked at a school in Taos, NM upon the recommendation of a friend, and discovered it was owned and operated by a single individual to whom I took a distinct dislike after meeting with him (he charged me money for that meeting claiming he had “counseled” me!!).

I came home disappointed and regrouped–I needed to be smarter about how I conducted my search. I looked at the AMTA for their recommended schools. This is where I found out about the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), which, at the time, only listed six schools as accredited through them.

The schools were located in Boston, MA; San Francisco, CA; two in and around Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL and Salt Lake City, UT. I researched all six schools.

My criteria:

  • a strong background in Anatomy
  • Craniosacral Therapy as part of their core curriculum
  • a large teaching staff with instructors who had lots of different backgrounds and experiences
  • they offered financial aid
  • they had extracurricular courses in Yoga and Thai Chi
  • they were located in a safe place that I could afford to live.

Utah College of Massage Therapy

I chose Utah College of Massage Therapy because of their association with the University of Utah’s department of Anatomy which enabled students to view prosection cadaver labs. Also, they offered financial aid, had Craniosacral Therapy as part of their curriculum, and Salt Lake City was a relatively inexpensive place to live compared to the other options.

They offered classes at night so that I could work a job and go to school and they had an extended program for advanced studies beyond basic certification training. They also had a placement service for new graduates to help them find jobs. I was pleased with the school for the most part, and I believe I got a good education.

Since I’ve become a massage therapist, schools have popped up all over the place. More and more states have adopted statewide licensing legislation which helps cut down on illegal activity.

Public awareness and perception of massage continues to improve and increase as a wider audience appreciates not only the relaxation benefits of massage, but the health benefits, as well.

According to our professional journals, massage therapists are making headway into many health care settings that were closed to them before and the spa industry is booming. My personal experience in a small town in the conservative south is that the medical industry is slow to embrace what massage therapy has to offer and the publics perception of massage is still an extravagance, or worse, somewhat illicit.

It is the massage practitioners responsibility to educate the public and other health care professionals in their community about what massage is and isn’t, and what massage can and cannot do to enhance people’s health. Professional associations are working tirelessly to advance the industry in the area of research and professional image.

Opportunities are nearly limitless, but it takes creativity, focus, dedication and patience to have a successful career as a massage therapist.



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2 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Nicole Ordich says:

    Hi I am a RN/BSN who has practiced as a nurse for 20 years, i am 43 and have thought about going back to nurse practitioner school. I have recently had breast cancer and had my first massage during my chemo treatment. It felt wonderful. I then began thinking how massage could help my patients with pain, stress, sleep and healing. I am thinking about going to school for massage therapy, and broadening my career to implement this. What do you think?

    • Sherri says:

      Go for it. You have the A & P stuff down and that’s about 60% of it. If you know muscles and bony landmarks, you’re all set. You would be a great asset to your patients.

      Good luck to you whatever you decide. Stay strong. I’m 48 and about to graduate in a few months. You’ll do wonderful.