Choosing the Right Massage Therapy School: Overview (Part 1 of 4)

Massage therapist standing by bassage tavle with hands crossed and looking outside the window

You know that you want to work in a health-related field and you know that you want to help people for a living. To accomplish those goals, you’re considering the field of massage therapy and looking into different massage therapy schools.
What should you look for? How do you choose the best massage therapy school? And more importantly, how do you know which massage therapy school is right for you?
To get you started in the right direction, here are some important questions you should ask. In the next three articles in the series, we will discuss each of these topics in detail.

How long is the program?
As you do your research, you’ll see that the length of the program may vary from state to state and even from school to school. Some massage therapy schools offer the minimum the state requires for license eligibility, and others offer a more comprehensive program. Depending on your individual goals, a more extensive program may take longer but provide more value.

How much will it cost and how can I pay for it?
Tuition costs will vary as well, so you definitely want to apply to an accredited massage therapy school, where you’ll have the option to apply for Federal Financial Aid. Of course, at most schools you can also pay for your tuition using traditional payment methods, and many schools offer partial scholarships to help defray some of the costs.

Physical therapist massaging pregnant woman's armWhat are the admission requirements?
“Generally, admission requirements vary from school to school, but in most cases, the potential student needs to meet an age requirement and have a high school diploma or equivalent, such as the GED,” says Alyssa Robbin, the director of admission for Central Maryland School of Massage.

“While these are the most common requirements, you should always check directly with the school, or schools, you are interested in attending to verify their specific requirements,” she adds.

What will you learn?
You will want to check out the courses, or modalities, that the school offers. Maybe you’re thinking of specializing in sports massage or prenatal massage. It may be that one school offers the modality while another doesn’t.
Modalities are definitely important, according to Joseph Rongo, co-director of ASIS (Arizona School for Integrative Studies) Massage Education. At ASIS, “the modalities are carefully chosen to blend eastern and western philosophies, as well as deep and light touch, thereby giving the student the opportunity to learn to affect their clients on all levels: physically, energetically, and emotionally.”

spa foot exfoliationHow will you learn?
Director of Admissions for Finger Lakes School of Massage, Jessica English, agrees that students should ask questions about a school’s teaching philosophy and approach to education. “FLSM is set apart by the exceptional staff, the progressive way we teach using the perceptual thinking patterns and providing lessons across all learning styles and the holistic way we look at the material,” says English.

“Our school asks students to go into their sessions with clear intention for the healing process and to allow their innate intuition to help in guiding them,” she adds.

Rongo says students should make sure that an “effort is made on the part of the faculty to provide students with a safe, rich, and diverse learning environment that can be individually-paced and tailored to the needs of specific learning styles.”

To recap, apart from finding out how long a program is and how much it will cost, you should determine whether a school is accredited or not, the school’s approach to instruction, and what modalities you will learn.

All these factors are important, but “the most important factor when looking at massage schools is different for everyone,” says English.

Which is the most important factor for you?

Keep an eye out for the next three articles in the series to find out more about program lengths, school accreditation and how it affects you, and Financial Aid and paying for school.