Friday, March 15, 2013




There have been many discussions about how much massage therapist should make and how much a massage session should cost.  These discussions are often linked to a professional and personal expectation of value.  From the 1. definition of value is -relative worth, merit, or importance.


You might want to read:

What Is the Value of a Human Being? What are you worth?

Published on November 14, 2012 by Leon Pomeroy, Ph.D. in Beyond Good and Evil


What Are Your Values? Deciding what's most important in life


You might want to listen to the following:

Success is a continuous journey

The power of vulnerability

 And now you  might want to consider the following data.

Health Care Careers Directory 2012-2013


Earnings among massage therapists vary widely,

depending on where the therapist practices, their

level of experience, the number of client-contact

hours, and their ability to establish and sustain an independent

business. Responsibilities in addition to massage include practice

management, billing, marketing, etc.

Many massage therapists work part time and, therefore, yearly

earnings can vary considerably, depending on the therapist’s

schedule. On average, massage therapists earn between $31 and

$41 per hour and are paid for an average of 15 hours per week,

earning them annual massage-related incomes between $20,000

and $30,000. A full-time practice for massage therapy is about 26

hours a week.

Another survey, reflecting prevalent part-time and private-practice

models, shows that practitioners earn an average salary of

$20,000 (as independent therapists); $23,750 (therapists working

as employees); and $22,600 (combined independent and employed

work). The average annual median salary, based on all three of

these categories, was $21,000.

Educational Programs

Minimum entry-level standards for massage therapy

training vary greatly, based on state or local requirements,

professional association standards, or insurance

requirements. State regulatory requirements for massage

practice range from a minimum of 500 in-class hours at a recognized

massage schools—the most prevalent standard—to 1,000

in-class hours of massage training in accredited massage


Massage therapy training programs and schools can voluntarily

seek accreditation from seven accrediting agencies recognized by

the US Department of Education. Only 30 percent of

state-approved massage therapy training programs have received

such accreditation.


Now compare to Acupuncture, Chiropractic, and Athletic trainer

Educational Programs - Acupuncture

Programs in acupuncture or Oriental medicine are

accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture

and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). ACAOM is

recognized by the US Department of Education (USDE) as an

authority in assessing master’s degree and master’s level certificate

and diploma programs in acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

Length. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs are typically

three to four academic years (90 to 120 instructional weeks),

consisting of a minimum of 105 semester credits (1,905 hours) for

an acupuncture program and 146 semester credits (2,625 hours) for

an Oriental medicine program.

Prerequisites. Satisfactory completion of at least two academic

years (60 semester credits/90 quarter credits) of education at the

baccalaureate level that is appropriate preparation for graduate

level work, or the equivalent, from an institution accredited by an

agency recognized by the US Secretary of Education.

A 2008 study by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture

and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) found that certified

acupuncturists and Oriental medicine practitioners earned on

average $60,000 per year.



Educational Programs-Chiropractic

Length. Chiropractors complete education in an

accredited chiropractic college; four to five academic

years of professional study are standard.

Prerequisites. The typical applicant at a chiropractic college

has already acquired four years of undergraduate college education.

Curriculum. Chiropractic students study clinical subjects,

including anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition, and

public health. Because of the hands-on nature of chiropractic, a

significant portion of time is spent in clinical training.


May 2011 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

show that wages for chiropractors at the 10th percentile

are $31,120, the 50th percentile (median) at

$66,060, and the 90th percentile at $142,570. (


In chiropractic, as in other types of independent practice, earnings

are relatively low in the beginning and increase as the practice


Educational Programs  Athletic Trainer

Length. Baccalaureate degree programs require 4

years of study. Postbaccalaureate programs are generally

2 years.


Entry-level salaries in 2008 averaged $35,000. The average

overall salary is $45,000, with the upper ranges

from $55,000 to $85,000.

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

( from May 2009 show

that wages at the 10th percentile are $26,170, the 50th percentile

(median) at $42,400, and the 90th percentile at $65,970.

For more information, go to



State and National Wages for Massage Therapist


United States


 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Massage Therapists,  on the Internet at (visited March 15, 2013).

Healthcare Occupations


Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses. They work with people of all ages and all skill levels, from young children to soldiers and professional athletes.
Bachelor’s degree
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians and vascular technologists use imaging technology to help physicians diagnose cardiac (heart) and peripheral vascular (blood vessel) ailments in patients. They also help physicians treat problems with cardiac and vascular systems, such as blood clots.
Associate’s degree
Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the musculoskeletal system, which is made up of bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They use spinal manipulation and other techniques to treat patients' ailments, such as back or neck pain.
Doctoral or professional degree
Dental assistants have many tasks, ranging from patient care to record keeping, in a dental office. Their duties vary by state and by the dentists’ offices where they work.
Postsecondary non-degree award
Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provide other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health.
Associate’s degree
Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal.
Bachelor’s degree
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics care for the sick or injured in emergency medical settings. People’s lives often depend on their quick reaction and competent care. EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency calls, performing medical services and transporting patients to medical facilities.
Postsecondary non-degree award
Home health and personal care aides help people who are disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired. They also help older adults who may need assistance. They help with activities such as bathing and dressing, and they provide services such as light housekeeping. In some states, home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client’s vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.
Less than high school
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (known as LPNs or LVNs, depending on the state in which they work) provide basic nursing care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.
Postsecondary non-degree award
Massage therapists treat clients by using touch to manipulate the soft-tissue muscles of the body. With their touch, therapists relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, reduce stress, increase relaxation, and aid in the general wellness of clients.
Postsecondary non-degree award
Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.
High school diploma or equivalent
Medical records and health information technicians organize and manage health information data by ensuring its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.
Postsecondary non-degree award
Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other health professionals make and convert them into written reports. They interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in preparing patients’ medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents.
Postsecondary non-degree award
Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants help provide basic care for patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes.
Postsecondary non-degree award
Occupational therapists treat patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working.
Master’s degree
Occupational therapy assistants and aides work under the direction of occupational therapists in treating patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working.
Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists dispense prescription medication.
High school diploma or equivalent
Physical therapist assistants and physical therapist aides work under the direction of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries, illnesses, and surgeries regain movement and manage pain.
Physical therapists help people who have injuries or illnesses improve their movement and manage their pain. They are often an important part of rehabilitation and treatment of patients with chronic conditions or injuries.
Doctoral or professional degree
Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation programs for people with disabilities or illnesses. They use a variety of techniques, including arts and crafts, drama, music, dance, sports, games, and field trips. These programs help maintain or improve a client’s physical and emotional well-being.
Bachelor’s degree
Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.
Associate’s degree
Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing; for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema. They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, stroke, drowning, or shock.
Associate’s degree

2010 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Publish Date: Thursday, March 29, 2012


This data suggests to me that value based on education comparison, the reported income for massage therapy is high—The other professions with similar educational standards- Postsecondary non-degree award typically require more training than massage therapy (500 contact hours) and earn either about the same or less. Take a closer look at EMT for example .  At the EMT-Basic level, training includes instruction in assessing patients' conditions, dealing with trauma and cardiac emergencies, clearing obstructed airways, using field equipment, and handling emergencies. Formal courses include about 100 hours of specialized training. Some training may be required in a hospital or ambulance setting.

The EMT-Intermediate 1985 or EMT-Intermediate 1999 level, also known as the Advanced EMT level, typically requires 1,000 hours of training based on the scope of practice. At this level, people must complete the training required at the EMT level, as well as more advanced training, such as training in the use of complex airway devices, intravenous fluids, and some medications.

Paramedics have the most advanced level of training. They must complete EMT-level and Advanced EMT training, as well as training in advanced medical skills. Community colleges and technical schools may offer this training, in which graduates may receive an associate's degree. Paramedic programs require about 1,300 hours of training and may take up to 2 years. Their broader scope of practice may include stitching wounds or administering IV medications.


Therefore the value of massage must be more that an academic education if we expect to earn the same value economically. I would propose that our value be measured not only by what we charge and earn but also by how we serve.  As educators we need to establish appropriate expectations in graduates.  If we just consider the educational level, massage therapist would earn about $12-$14 per hour.  The income reported above is realistic.  Just because we charge $40-$50 per hour does not mean that is what is made for a net income. Net income is more like $12-$14 per hour.  An annual income of $30,000 per year requires full time work right? Right!  That is 40-45 hours per week minimum and 25 massage sessions per week during those 40ish hours.  Is that enough economic value? I don’t know- it has been for me for many years. However, there are many types of value in the massage profession for me.

 People have to be able to afford massage to get massage on a regular basis. That tops out at $40-$50 per session if they are going to get a massage on a weekly or every two weeks basis.  How are clients going to determine value-at least enough value to justify the time and money spent to get a massage.  Just like giving a massage- it takes 2 hours to get a one hour massage.  Even at the $40 per massage rate: on a weekly basis that is $160 a month.  That’s a lot of money.  If your client is making $15 per hour they have to work about 10 hours just to pay the massage therapist.  Interesting questions about value aren’t they.