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Massage therapist

Massage therapists manipulate clients' muscles and soft tissues to help them relax, treat sports injuries, and give relief to people with long-term health conditions.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

It will help if you:

  • have GCSEs (A* to C) in biology, human biology, or a certificate in anatomy and physiology
  • take a course offered by one of the professional bodies for massage therapy

The Therapy Directory has a list of professional bodies for massage therapy. 

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

You may also find it useful if you’re a member of the voluntary register of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC)

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • manual and practical skills
  • excellent communication and listening skills
  • the ability to put your clients at ease
  • the ability to show empathy to your clients
  • commercial and admin skills to run a business

3. What you'll do

Your work will depend on the type of massage you do and the clients you see. You could offer sports massage, baby and infant massage, or massage therapy for people with medical conditions.

A typical session will include:

  • checking the client's medical history, diet and lifestyle
  • identifying the client's reasons for wanting massage therapy
  • planning a course of treatment
  • applying pressure to areas of the body
  • giving advice to clients about their wellbeing
  • referring clients to medical professionals

4. Salary

Most massage therapists are self-employed, so your pay will depend on how many clients you attract, how many hours you work and how much money you charge.

You can usually charge between £25 and £60 an hour, depending on the type of massage you offer.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

If you're self-employed you’ll choose your own working hours. You may have to offer evening and weekend appointments to meet the needs of your clients.

You may work from your own home, from a complementary therapy clinic, a massage chain or spa, or a GP surgery or hospital.

You may need a driving licence and your own transport, if you visit customers at home.

This is a physical job, so you’ll need a reasonable level of personal fitness.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could build up and maintain a reputation and client base, and set up your own business.

You could also train in other complementary therapies like aromatherapy, reiki or reflexology.

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Last updated: 13 April 2017