Should I Attend International Massage School?

International Massage School

There are several different careers in which international training can make a real difference in your professional future. The aspiring chef who learns in Italy and France has quite an advantage over his or her American-trained counterparts.

A business professional with a few years of training in Japan or the Middle East can typically find very high-paying jobs. And massage therapists who have some experience in Eastern techniques—learned hands-on in China—often go on to have incredibly successful careers.

Most massage therapists in the United States are trained with a combination of Eastern and Western modalities. Swedish and sports massage are complemented by acupressure and Shiatsu; deep-tissue massage or lymphatic drainage might come packaged with energy healing Reiki methods.

This two-sided approach provides a very well-rounded education, and also gives students the chance to work within the past, present, and future of massage all at the same time.

While many great massage schools have instructors and programs in Eastern massage modalities, however, some of these are “watered down” versions of Traditional Chinese Medicine. That’s because Western medicine (and licensing boards) have yet to agree that there are solid and proven medical benefits to TCM. You simply can’t get the same kind of Eastern massage training in the United States that you can elsewhere in the world.

But before you hop on the next plane and go to school in China, it’s important to remember that not everything you learn in an international setting is applicable in the United States. There is no national overseeing body that will give you a certification in TCM, and most states won’t recognize your international degree or accomplishments.

And unless you graduate from a U.S. program, you may not even be eligible for a traditional massage therapy license. This doesn’t stop you from advertising to your clients, but it does prevent you from practicing a type of medicine that simply doesn’t exist here.

For students interested in broadening their horizons beyond U.S. borders, it might be a good idea to find a massage school that offers international programs in addition to more traditional training. These schools will provide the best of both worlds, and you’ll walk away with both a massage therapy license and a little more in-depth training.

In most cases, however, these schools do come with additional costs, especially if you do some traveling or living abroad for part (or all) of your massage therapy education.






4 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Brian W. says:


    This is a great article and I believe there are many people who aspire to be great massage/bodywork practitioners who would love to either begin or further their training in a foreign country. As you mention, studying abroad offers the opportunity to obtain training that isn’t available in the United States and can lead to a much higher demand for your services due to your broader skill sets. In addition, I would like to point out that there are significant savings to be had in many countries over the cost of comparable training in the U.S., particularly in South America (my school is in Ecuador), and the cost of your travel can often be made up for by these savings. Finally, one cannot ignore the “adventure” aspect of exploring a new country and culture, which would enhance your learning experience in countless ways.

    I would encourage anyone who has dreamed of combining world travel with obtaining training in massage/bodywork and other natural healing modalities to consider this option.


    Brian W.

    • TanyaF says:

      Hi Brian. I am a Massage Therapist currently licensed and practicing in United States (Louisiana). I am interested in finding out what it would take for me to become licensed to practice massage in Ecuador and possibly to open my own massage business there. Can you help me?

    • isaac may says:

      what was the name of the school you went to in Ecuador, brian? i’m there now and i’d like to check it out if possible.


  2. Rita Chapman says:

    I am interested in studying in China/Russia

    Thank you, Rita Chapman, LMT, MMP