Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I get irritated when what is charged for a massage session is equated to what one makes for massage. Regardless of being self-employed or being an employee, someone has to pay the overhead, taxes and clean the facility and attend to business management duties.  I get especially exasperated at the AMTA with the annual report to the profession which perpetuates this confusion.  See the quote below.

“Average hourly earnings of massage therapists increased in the past year

Therapists working in their client’s homes made the most, an average of $69.89 per

hour. Those working in massage only franchises and chains made the least, an average

The $69.89 mentioned above is what was CHARGED not what was MADE!  The same report says that the average gross income for massage is $21,871.   This is gross income. Taxes and other expenses need to be deducted.  How does $69.89 per hour only end up being $21,871 per year.

The $20.39 per hour (wage and tip) indicated for franchises and chains is much more accurate indicator of actual hourly income as an employee before taxes.

Yes I am yelling.

Below is a much more realistic evaluation of income potential.  Also when you compare the real information working for one of the franchises is not such a bad situation. 


Below is a breakdown of session lengths and client fees.  Now before you get your fascia in a twist when looking at the fee structure remember the fees are based on a retention client structure where they would get a massage a least every two weeks.   So for the typical hour massage at the average fee this is $100 a month commitment for a client.  That’s a lot based on the current economic status. Also this is based on a new graduate to the first 5 years or so in practice, so if you are charging more based on experience good for you  but this is a realistic view.

½  hr. (30 min)

$25 Low-end Fee

$35 High-end Fee

$30 Average


1 hr. (60 min)

$40 Low-end Fee

$60 High-end Fee

$50 Average


1 1/2 hr.      (90 min.)                             

$60 Low-end Fee

$80 High-end Fee

$70 Average


1-hr (60 min.)  on-site

$90 Low-end Fee

$150 High-end Fee

$120 Average

But this is only a start to figuring out how much you would be earning. You need to consider more than the time that is spent in the session—setup, possible travel, and other associated costs must be considered.

It is essential to consider “REAL TIME” when calculating income. There is always time between sessions and things to attend to. Below is a breakdown of massage session lengths, “real time” required, and the income generated based on the average earnings from above.

½ -hr. massage  Massage Duration

¾ hours (45 minutes) “Real Time” Required

$30 Average Rate

($40 per hour) Income Generated Based on Average Rate


1-hr. massage  1¼ hours (75 minutes)

 $50 ($40 per hour) Income Generated Based on Average Rate


 1 ½ -hr. massage Massage Duration

1¾ hours (105 minutes) “Real Time” Required

$70 Average Rate

($40 per hour) Income Generated Based on Average Rate


1-hr.  on-site massage  Massage Duration

3 hours (180 min) “Real Time” Required

$120 Average Rate

($40 per hour) Income Generated Based on Average Rate


Ok so $ 40 gross an hour for actually doing massage. BUT -- It takes approximately 32 hours of REAL TIME to complete 25 1-hr massage sessions ( full time ). In addition, it is necessary to manage the business and take care of office and cleaning responsibilities. At a minimum this would be 8 hrs. per week. The actual work week is 40 hrs. per week ( probable more).

Hourly income would come to $15.63.


A self-employed massage therapist does 25 1-hr massage sessions per week at $50 per massage, which equals $1250 in gross income. 50% of the gross income is deducted for overhead expenses and taxes. This leaves $625 of net income. The amount would result in an annual average net income (in pocket) of $32,500 if doing 25 sessions per week consistently. I have heard many say that that is too many sessions and that 20 massage sessions per week is more realistic. Well do the math on that---- $ 12.50 per hour -$ 26000 per year.

Is there increased potential for income generation for massage? Yes, you can raise rates and reduce overhead but both of these options would occur for the more experienced massage professional.  People always want to know what I charge—expert that I am after all with 34 years’ experience provided thousands of massage sessions.  $50 per hour and most of my sessions are onsite due to the client base I work with, so there is additional fee depending on the driving distance but for an hour  drive it is $50. The massage session is typically 90 min.  Then since I am in the client’s home there is some time with the spouse, kids, grandma or grandpa or the dog.   Typical fee is $175.  But if you come to me at my location the fee is $50 per hour and $75 for 90 min.  I do not feel I am undercharging.  I feel this fee structure is fair and supports retention clients.  I do not tell my students they are going to make $ 50 per hour.  I tell them that is the average charge for a massage. They will make between $12 and $15 per hour when they begin. This is the ethical thing to do.




Fritz. Mosby's Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage, 5th Edition. Mosby, 2013.