Monday, February 11, 2013

A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT THE 2013 AMTA Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet

A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT THE 2013 AMTA Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet

In this post I am highlighting a few of the points from the 2013 AMTA Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet. The link above takes you to the complete document. 

According to the fact sheet:

Today’s massage therapists are:

•Working an average of 17 hours a week providing massage. (Excludes time spent on other business tasks such as billing, bookkeeping, supplies, maintaining equipment, marketing, scheduling, etc.)

MY TAKE ON THIS:    Reporting work hours this way is confusing.  I do think this representation is a bit clearer than in past years.  What this statement means is that actual time is with hands on clients and as stated does not include all the rest of the time required to provide massage services.  I teach that for every 1 hour massage you will need at least an additional hour complete all the rest of the work required including laundry, cleaning and business tasks.  This means an average work week is 34 hours.

 •Charging an average of $62 for one hour of massage vs. $59 in 2011.

 •Earning an average wage of $31 an hour (including tips) for all massage-related work.

 •In 2012, the average annual income for a massage therapist (including tips) was estimated to be $20,789

MY TAKE ON THIS:  Something doesn’t seem right with these numbers.  So if the average massage therapist is working 17 hours and the average fee is $62 per massage this would be a weekly gross income of $1054. Then the report indicates that the average wage is $31 per hour for all massage related work.  I am not sure I know what that means- 17 hours of hands on clients or the 34 hours of real time. So ---using 34 hours into $1054 gross income is $31 dollars per hour------ but I don’t see any indication of overhead costs whether paid by a self-employed practitioner or an employer.  WOOPS--- The overhead has to be paid and again I teach that 50% of gross is needed to pay overhead.  That would mean that net income per hour is $15.50.
Now we have to figure out the average annual income of $20,789.  What fits is $15.50 x 34 hours x 50 weeks (2 weeks non paid vacation) = $26,350. WOOPS—ABOUT A $5000 DIFFERENCE.   A 34 hour work week bases on the $20789 number is just a bit over $12 per hour.  $12-$15 per actual work hour is a whole lot different than the gross charge of $62 per one hour massage or the $31 per hour based on all massage related work.   Graduates from massage school are often told that they will make that $30ish dollar amount per hour—not true.  Also note that the $12-$15 per hour fits the payroll stucture of the various massage franchises.

 •Fifty-two percent of massage therapists say they would like to work more hours of massage than they presently do.


 •Half of massage therapists (50 percent) also earn income working in another profession.


MY TAKE ON THIS:  It is necessary to do a minimum of 25 massage sessions at $50 per hour charge to the client to make a sustainable income.  In my experience a charge over the $50 per one hour massage does not support a retention client practice and the AMTA report indicated that massage therapist rely on repeat clients for income stability.   With these figures a massage therapist should earn between $25000 and $30000 per year based on how much is spent on overhead expenses.  

My questions are:

Why are massage therapists (on average) only doing 17 1- hour massage sessions per week instead of 25?

Why are massage graduates so often told they are going to earn $20-$40 per hour when this is clearly not the case?

Why do the AMTA numbers not jive?


Why do professional organizations and CE providers expect these individual to shell out $300-$400 in convention/conference/course fees as well as $500-$600 in travel and lodging.  $1000 is 10% of reported income. For goodness sake $19,090 is considered the income level threshold for poverty in the United States.

We need to get real here people--------------!!!!!!


  1. This numbers game in massage therapy has always been confusing. Part-time vs. full-time; sole practitioners' income vs employees' income...I think a big part of the challenge when presenting statistics for massage professionals is there is so much variation in how each professional practices. If someone knows of a better industry report than AMTA's, I'd love to hear about it.

  2. The ABMP does a similar report. You are correct about the problems with attempting to capture the massage profession because of the varibility. The problem is when inaccurate information or information out of context is used to create unrealistic expectations

  3. The data should be broken down further. There's a big difference between amount of work done when someone works for themself compared to working for someone else.
    Also, geographical location is a big impact too (both in expenses and in how much people charge - $50 for a massage in NYC compared to some wee town in Iowa will be viewed totally differently).
    I'd also say that there are probably big variances between therapists that claim insurance and those that don't and those that work in medical environments and those that don't.