According to the AMTA the average, massage therapist worked 25.3 hours per week in 2015 and was paid for 19.7 of the 25.3 average hours. Also indicated in the report massage therapists provided massage for an average of 45 clients a month or between 11 and 12 clients a week. Only about 50% of those surveyed by AMTA indicated that they wanted to work more hours. (AMTA-- The 2016 Massage Profession Research Report).
Well, that is interesting.
Also according to the AMTA 2016 Massage Profession Research Report, gross income ( I assume that means prior to income taxes and after overhead is deducted if self-employed) was$24,132 in 2014 and $24,519 in 2015. That sounds terrible until you realize that is PART TIME and about 62% of the typical forty hour work week. 38% of the reported income of $24,519 is about $9500. Therefore , factored out to full time, this means that full time earning for a massage therapist (prior to income tax) is about $ 34,500 per year.
This is a good income for a diploma based education of 625-750 hours and in the vocational sector of health professions.
So why are massage therapists working part time? About 50% are happy with part time. So what about the other half? Why are massage therapist only providing 45 sessions a month—part time instead of 90 massage sessions? This is between 20 and 25 client sessions a week or 5 sessions a day.
Two reasons come to mind. Ergonomics/bodymechanics and lack of client volume. I have been pleading for an independent ergonomics and biomechanical analysis for massage therapy for YEARS. The massage therapy leadership organizations NEED to fund a “for real” independent analysis by objective experts outside the massage profession to get an unbiased perspective and useable recommendations. I do not care who you are or how long you have been doing massage or teaching (including me), all of us are guessing. We do not know for sure and it is time to know!
Client volume is an issue as well. So what are the obstacles preventing more people from receiving massage? Again, according to the AMTA 2016 Massage Profession Research Report, Females without children in the home with incomes over $50,000 are the main massage consumer and 1/3 of all massage consumers had a household income of $100,000 or more in 2015. Only ¼ of those with a household income between $75,000 and $100,000 received a massage in 2015. Seventeen percent of those with incomes between $35,000 and $50,000 got a massage in 2015, down from 22 percent in 2014. And only 7% of those with an income of less than $35,000 got a massage in 2015, down from 8 percent in 2014.
There is a huge potential to increase clients since only a small percentage of people actually receive massage. The largest group of people are those making less than $50,000 a year. Price point of a typical 60 minute massage session will need to be between $40 and $50 for these individuals
How often clients receive a massage is also an issue. Many who get massage only schedule once a month. Research has shown multiple times that that frequency is not enough to generate and sustain benefit. Weekly massage sessions are idea but realistic scheduling for clients is a massage every other week. Increasing the frequency of massage for current clients would double the session hours worked. What are the obstacles for receiving more massage sessions in a month? Cost and time with cost being the biggest deterrent. If the average fee for massage is $ 65 the monthly cost for a client receiving a massage every other week is $1625 a year or $135 per month. For those with incomes less than $40,000 a year that is a real chunk of money. For those with yearly incomes of $ 75,000 or more that is 2% of income but for those making $35,000 a year it is 5% of income. Those earning $35,000 -$40,000 only have $700 (2% of income) to potentially spend on massage. The most they could spend is $30 a massage session if they received 2 massage sessions a month.
I just had this conversation with my students as we were discussing how to provided massage therapy to first responders such as EMT, fire fighters and police.
This is the reality we face right now. People know massage has value and many more people would become clients if they could. If more people could receive massage then more massage therapist could work full time if they want. This is a tricky economic line to walk. As massage therapists we need to make an income sufficient to meet our needs and at full time, like so many, that is $30,000-$35,000 a year and this is the income of the group of people that can be helped so much by massage therapy on a regular basis.
I certainly do not have all the answers but I sure am thinking about it.