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Massage Therapist

Massage therapists assess the body’s soft tissue and joints. They perform massage therapy to relieve pain and symptoms of stress, or to develop, maintain, rehabilitate, or increase physical function.

Also Known As

Complementary Medicine Practitioner, Masseur, Masseuse, Muscle Therapist, Therapist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Massage Therapists (3235.4) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Technical Occupations in Therapy and Assessment (D235) 
  • 2011 NOC: Massage therapists (3236) 
  • 2016 NOC: Massage therapists (3236) 
  • 2021 NOC: Massage therapists (32201) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Massage Therapists

2006 NOC: 3235.4

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
METHODICAL

Interest in analyzing information obtained from tests and health care professionals to develop treatment plans; in providing courses of treatment for medical conditions, injuries and for maintenance of wellness; and in maintaining records of patients' treatments

SOCIAL

Interest in assisting patients by providing treatment, prescribing remedial exercises and discussing follow-up care; may work with other health care professionals when appropriate

OBJECTIVE

Interest in operating equipment to administer treatments; in conducting range of motion and muscle testing; and in providing massage therapy to treat medical conditions and injuries

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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

  • assess clients to determine the best courses of treatment
  • explain procedures, risks, and benefits to clients
  • inform clients of their right to refuse, stop, or alter procedures at any time
  • apply suitable massage techniques including
    • soft tissue manipulation
    • relaxation techniques
    • soft tissue stretching
    • 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
    • myofascial release.
  • suggest suitable home care (such as techniques for postural improvement and stretching, strengthening, relaxation, and rehabilitative exercises)
  • consult with other health care providers (such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, physicians, and psychologists) to develop treatment plans
  • obtain, maintain and securely store treatment records
  • complete reports and respond to insurance company inquiries.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg

Massage therapists may have private practices or work as part of multidisciplinary health care teams. They usually work with one client at a time. Therapists often have to help transfer clients the table. Those who travel to client offices and homes must lift and move equipment that weighs up to 20 kilograms.

The work can be physically demanding. It requires standing for long periods of time. Hours of work depend on each work setting and therapist. Some massage therapists work evenings and weekends. Others work part time in several locations.

5 massages a day for 5 days of work is considered full time for a massage therapist. That equates to about 25 hours of work.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Massage therapists need to possess:

  • excellent listening and speaking skills
  • the ability to manage time well
  • good general health and posture
  • the ability to comfortably share personal space for long periods of time
  • an interest in wellness issues
  • the ability to stand for long periods of time
  • the ability to use their body as a tool to apply massage therapy
  • the ability to think critically
  • a friendly, outgoing personality and caring attitude
  • empathy and compassion
  • the ability to be well organized
  • a non-judgmental nature
  • the ability to work with people of all ethnicities, ages, and body types
  • a flexible schedule to adjust to clients’ needs
  • an interest in lifelong learning.

They should enjoy:

  • helping people
  • developing and administering treatment plans.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Massage therapists

2016 NOC: 3236

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 94 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Nov 25, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Administer massage techniques through soft tissue manipulation, relaxation techniques, hydrotherapy, trigger point therapy, joint pain and lower grade mobilizations
Massage and knead muscles and soft tissues of the body
Apply finger and hand pressure to specific points of the body
Assess clients by conducting range of motion and muscle tests and propose treatment plans
Maintain records of treatments given
Explain procedures, risks and benefits to clients
Suggest home care instructions and provide information about techniques
Personal Suitability: Client focus
Tasks: Administer massage techniques through soft tissue manipulation, relaxation techniques, hydrotherapy, trigger point therapy, joint pain and lower grade mobilizations
Tasks: Apply finger and hand pressure to specific points of the body
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Minimum Education Varies

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.

To join the massage association and bill for health insurance, the student must attend an educational institution offering 2,200 hours of training.

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

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

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.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Academy of Reflexology and Massage
Advance Institute of Wellness & Esthetics
Alberta Business & Health Institute
Alberta Business and Health Institute
Alberta College of Massage Therapy - Calgary
Alberta College of Massage Therapy - Edmonton
Alberta College of Massage Therapy - Edmonton South
Alberta College of Massage Therapy - Fort McMurray
Alberta College of Massage Therapy - Grande Prairie
Alberta College of Massage Therapy - Lloydminster
Alberta College of Massage Therapy - Red Deer
Aquinas College Inc.
Calgary College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture
Cambrooks College - Downtown Campus
Canadian Academy of Osteopathy West
Canadian Health & Business College
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary North
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton North
East-West College - Edmonton
East-West College Brooks Inc.
East-West College of Business & Technology
Grant MacEwan University
Hamptons College
Lethbridge College
Manual Osteopathic College of Canada
Manual Osteopathic College of Canada - Calgary
Manual Osteopathic College of Canada - Grande Prairie
Manual Osteopathic College of Canada - Lloydminster
Manual Osteopathic College of Canada - Red Deer
Mount Royal University
MTG Healthcare Academy - Red Deer
National Manual Osteopathic College
NIWE Academy Inc.
Peerless Training Institute
Professional Institute of Massage Therapy Calgary
Southern Alberta Institute of Massage - Lethbridge
Southern Alberta Institute of Massage - Medicine Hat
Vicars School of Massage Therapy - Calgary
Vicars School of Massage Therapy - Edmonton
Wholistic Health Training & Research Centre

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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 other health providers, such as:
    • chiropractors
    • physicians
    • physical therapists
    • psychotherapists
    • psychologists
    • naturopaths
    • dentists.

Advancement in this field most often takes the form of building a larger client base. Therefore, entrepreneurial and business management skills are an asset.

In Alberta, 97% of people employed as massage therapists work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

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

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the 3236: Massage therapists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.3% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 225 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Income ranges in this occupation depend on the type of employment, location, and number of clients. Massage therapists may charge from $45 to $70 for a half-hour treatment and $65 to $120 for a 1-hour treatment (2018 estimates).

Massage therapists bill 20 to 30 client hours a week.

Massage therapists who contract their services to clinics receive a percentage (often 60%) of billings.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Massage therapists

2016 NOC: 3236
Average Wage
$38.11
Per Hour
Average Salary
$46,971.00
Per Year
Average Hours
25.4
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3236 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $42.00 $30.65 $35.75
Overall $15.00 $57.69 $38.11 $40.81
Top $15.00 $65.00 $43.97 $50.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)
Health Care & Social Assistance
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
56%
56%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
84%
84%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
23%
23%
Vacancy Rate
8%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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: rmta.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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