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Massage Therapist

Massage therapists assess the soft tissue and joints of the body and administer massage therapy to relieve pain and symptoms of stress or to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function.

Also Known As:Complimentary Medicine Practitioner, Masseur/Masseuse, Therapist
NOC Number(s):3235.4
Minimum Education:Education/training requirements vary
Employment Outlook:Job openings: turnover plus new jobs due to above average growth in occupation in Alberta 2013-2017
Interests:M S O

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Massage Therapist


Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Related Legislation | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study

Duties

Massage therapists may be trained in various different massage techniques but, in general, they:

  • conduct client assessments to determine the most appropriate courses of treatment
  • explain procedures, risks and benefits to clients and inform client that they have the right to refuse, stop or alter procedures at any time
  • administer appropriate massage techniques (soft tissue manipulation, relaxation techniques, soft tissue stretching techniques, manual pressure to specific points on the body, hydrotherapy, manual stripping or cross-fibre friction of muscle tissue, trigger point therapy, joint play and mobilizations, lymphatic drainage techniques)
  • suggest appropriate home care and provide information about techniques for postural improvement and stretching, strengthening, relaxation and rehabilitative exercises
  • consult with other health care professionals such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, physicians and psychologists to develop treatment plans for clients
  • obtain, maintain and securely store treatment records
  • complete reports and respond to enquiries from insurance companies as required.

Working Conditions

Massage therapists may operate private practices or work as part of multidisciplinary health care teams. They usually work with one client at a time. Therapists who travel to client offices and homes must lift and move equipment that weighs up to 10 kilograms.

The work can be strenuous and requires standing for long periods of time. Hours of work depend on the work setting and the physical capability of the individual therapist. Many massage therapists work evenings and weekends, or part time hours in several different locations.


Personal Characteristics

Massage therapists need the following characteristics:

  • excellent listening skills
  • good communication and time management skills
  • good general health and posture
  • comfortable sharing personal space for extended periods of time
  • interested in wellness issues
  • able to work in a standing position for long periods of time and use the body as a tool in administering massage therapy
  • critical thinking skills
  • friendly, outgoing personality and caring attitude.

They should enjoy helping people, and developing and implementing treatment plans.


Educational Requirements

Before choosing a training program, prospective massage therapists are advised to discuss their education options with people who already work in this field.

In Alberta, training programs for massage therapists are offered by the following publicly funded institutions:

  • Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton offers a two year Massage Therapy diploma program. The entrance requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent with one of the following: Biology 30, Chemistry 30 or Science 30.
  • Lethbridge College offers a two year Massage Therapy diploma program. The entrance requirements are a high school diploma with at least 60 per cent in English Language Arts (ELA) 30-1 or 30-2 and Biology 30, and a working knowledge of word processing, spreadsheets and database software.
  • Medicine Hat College offers a two year diploma program in Massage Therapy. The entrance requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent with at least 60 per cent in English Language Arts 30-1 or 30-2, Biology 30 and two other 30-level subjects (one of which must be a science or pure or applied math) or equivalent. 
  • Mount Royal University in Calgary offers an 1100 hour and a 2200 hour Massage Therapy certificate program full time through Continuing Education. The entrance requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent. Biology 30 (or Mount Royal University's Science Preparatory Tutorial) is strongly recommended.

A number of private vocational schools in Alberta offer training programs, often in particular massage techniques:

  • ABM College of Health and Technology in Calgary offers an 88 week Massage Therapy program. The entrance requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent with a Grade 12 Biology course. 
  • Alberta Institute of Massage in Red Deer offers a 1000 hour Massage Therapy Certificate program and a 1200 hour Advanced Massage Therapy Diploma program. The entrance requirement for the diploma program is successful completion of the certificate (or equivalent). 
  • Alberta Massage Training in Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Lloydminster, offers a 30 week Swedish Relaxation Massage program and a 44 week Massage Therapy program.
  • Canadian Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Calgary offers a 30 week and an 80 week Western Eastern Integrated Massage program. 
  • Cambrooks College in Calgary offers a 76 week Massage Therapy diploma program.    
  • CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care in Calgary and Edmonton offers 44 week Massage Therapy and 44 week Advanced Massage Therapy programs.
  • H & B Massage Therapy Training Centre in Edmonton offers 12 week Relaxation Massage and 14 week Massage Therapy programs.
  • International Academy of Esthetics in Sherwood Park offers a 350 hour, part time Massage Practitioner program. 
  • MH Vicars School of Massage Therapy in Calgary and Edmonton offers an 88 week Remedial Massage Therapy program.
  • MaKami College Inc. in Edmonton and Calgary, offers a 32 week Massage Therapy program and a 82 week Advanced Clinical Massage Therapy program. MaKami College Inc. in Edmonton also offers a 44 week Advanced Clinical Massage Therapy program. 
  • Northern Institute of Massage Therapy Inc. in Red Deer offers 28 week Basic Relaxation Massage and 40 week Advanced Therapeutic Massage programs. 
  • Professional Institute of Massage Therapy in Calgary offers a 12 week Relaxation Massage and a 37 week Massage Therapy programs.  
  • Southern Alberta Institute of Massage in Edmonton offers a 28 week and a 60 week Massage Therapy program.
  • South Edmonton School of Massage Therapy in Edmonton offers a 43 week Massage Therapy Level I program and a 59 week Massage Therapy Level II program.
  • Wholistic Health Training & Research Centre in Edmonton offers 16 week Massage Therapy Level 2 and 104 week Massage Therapy Level 3 programs.

Admission requirements vary but generally include a high school diploma or equivalent. Some programs require Biology 30. For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.

Massage therapists should attend ongoing professional development workshops to keep their skills up to date. Continuing education programs may be offered on an as needed basis.

Section revised July 2013

Related Legislation

Massage therapist is not a regulated health profession in Alberta.

Some municipalities require massage therapists to be licensed under local bylaws or to provide an annual police security clearance.


Employment and Advancement

Most massage therapists are self-employed. They may travel to clients' offices or homes, or work in:

  • their own homes or offices
  • fitness clubs
  • spas or resorts
  • massage therapy clinics 
  • clinics shared with chiropractors, physicians, physical therapists, psychotherapists, psychologists, naturopaths or dentists.

Advancement in this occupation generally takes the form of building a larger client base therefore, entrepreneurial and business management skills are an asset.

Massage therapists are part of the larger National Occupational Classification 3235: Other Technical Occupations in Therapy and Assessment. In Alberta, most people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 2,900 Albertans are employed in the Other Technical Occupations in Therapy and Assessment occupational group which is expected to have an annual above average growth of 3.2 per cent from 2013 to 2017 in Alberta. It is forecasted that about 93 new positions will be created each year in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. (Note: Since massage therapists form only a part of the larger occupational group on which this forecast is based, only a portion of the new positions created will be for massage therapists.)

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Section revised November 2013

Salary

Income ranges in this occupation depend on the type of employment, location and number of clients. Massage therapists may charge from $30 to $50 for a half hour treatment and $50 to $80 for a one hour treatment (2007 estimates). Some massage therapists bill 20 to 30 client hours a week. Massage therapists who contract their services to clinics receive a percentage (often 60 per cent) of billings.

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Other Technical Occupations in Therapy and Assessment occupational group earned on average from $15.64 to $24.96 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $18.91 an hour.

For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo.

Section revised February 2012

Other Sources of Information

Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)

EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

Alberta Association of Therapeutic Masseurs (AATM) website: albertaatm.com

Canadian Council of Massage Therapy Schools (CCMTS) website: www.ccmts.ca

Canadian Sport Massage Therapists Association (CSMTA) website: www.csmta.ca

Massage Therapists Association of Alberta (MTAA) website: www.mtaalberta.com

Natural Health Practitioners of Canada (NHPC) website: www.nhpcanada.org

Remedial Massage Therapists Association (RMTA) website: www.rmta.ab.ca

Section revised March 2012

Related Occupational Profiles
Acupuncturist
Athletic Therapist
Kinesiologist
Physiotherapist
Reflexologist

Related High School Subjects
English Language Arts; Health, Recreation and Human Services (Health Care Services; and Human and Social Services); and Science (Biology; and Chemistry)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Health Care and Medical Sciences

Produced September 2010
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For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at alis.alberta.ca, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.


Government of Alberta, Human Services