What is the Right Mix of Massage Therapy Skills?

What makes someone an incredible massage therapist? Nobody is born with “magic” in their hands allowing them to deliver a soothing, therapeutic touch. However, some people do have natural inclinations toward “the healing arts.” Having the right combination of skills to work in massage therapy comes down to having the technical interest, great communication, and enthusiasm for working with people required to thrive in this profession. Are you wondering if massage therapy is the right career for you?

Why Do Some Become Massage Therapists?

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find jobs that provide a sense of personal satisfaction. When planning your future, you may feel “trapped” by the idea of committing to the same job year after year, just to earn a living. As a massage therapist, you might feel like you found a “life hack” when choosing a job that provides freedom, flexibility, and personal satisfaction. Are you wondering if this could be a good career for you?


Massage therapists enjoy an incredible amount of flexibility that is nearly unheard of in other professions. This is an industry where professionals with the right training are truly able to choose their own paths.

Job Satisfaction

Anyone who has ever worked a traditional job understands all the stress, limitations, and expectations that go along with working under tight constraints. This applies everywhere from retail settings to offices. People in massage get to enjoy jobs that cut out much of the “procedural details” in favor of simply serving clients directly using their unique talents and skills.

Work For Yourself

There are many possibilities where you can be employed as a massage therapist. Professionals in massage therapy can choose to work for employers. Others prefer to book their own clients directly to be in charge of their own schedules. Owning your own business comes down to owning your own table. Of course, you can also consider opening your own office to begin your wellness empire. Here’s some inspiration about where career opportunities exist for those who are trained and certified in the healing arts:

  • Medical clinics
  • Massage centers
  • Spas
  • Resorts
  • Hospitals
  • Expo centers
  • Corporate events
  • Client homes

A Demand for Massage Therapists

The demand for massage therapists is continuing to grow. As people begin to prioritize mental health and wellness, they are utilizing natural and holistic healing avenues like never before. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for massage therapists will grow 32% through 2030. That’s a rate that is much faster than average when compared with all professions. The growth, flexibility, and satisfaction that go along with a career as a massage therapist may have you wondering how to get started in this profession. The first step is about truly taking time to figure out if you have compatible skills for becoming a massage therapist. Next, take a look at the core massage therapy skills that allow people to shine in this profession.

What Skills Are Needed to Become a Massage Therapist?

The technical skills needed to excel in massage therapy can be learned during a vocational training program. The innate skills needed to enjoy this profession are already within you. Here’s a list covering the right mix of massage therapy skills.

Skill #1: Communication

A great experience is all about exceptional customer service. Clients can often feel very vulnerable when they are new to the experience. Your ability to effectively and clearly communicate puts them at ease. Great communication begins long before an appointment. It’s important for you to be clear, friendly, accommodating, and inviting from the first moment a client reaches out for an appointment. This sets the tone for the client to feel more comfortable from the start. This ultimately creates a more enjoyable experience that is likely to result in repeated bookings, positive word of mouth, and positive online reviews.

Skill #2: Active Listening

Active listening is the practice of knowing how to “listen” using both verbal and non-verbal skills. An active listener must also know how to provide appropriate feedback to demonstrate attentiveness to the needs of the person they are communicating with. Active listening is one of the most valuable tools a massage therapist can master. It’s a big bonus if you already possess active listening skills. However, it should be noted that professionals in this field often sharpen this skill over time while working with clients.

The reason why active listening is so important is that a massage therapist needs to be tuned into the needs of a client to create an effective, positive experience. This allows them to adjust techniques in real time. Active listening is responsible for creating a pampered, rejuvenating experience that allows the client to become completely immersed in the relaxation that is being induced instead of getting caught up in the discomfort caused by unmet needs.

Skill #3: Attention to Detail

Massage therapists with an understanding of how the senses react to different details are experts at creating amazing experiences. Your attention to detail is what allows you to get repeat clients. What does attention to detail look like for a massage therapist? Here’s a look at how massage experts can use small details to make big impression on clients:

  • Use of specific scents to activate different emotional responses tied to relaxation, clarity, and stress relief
  • Use of soft, high-quality fabrics
  • Music choices designed to create certain responses based on a client’s massage goals
  • Perfect execution of all techniques during a massage
  • Small gestures for client comfort and privacy

Clients want to know that they can “turn their minds off” during a massage. They are allowing you to be in control. When you show up with all the small details covered to perfection, this signals to clients that they are truly in good hands.

Skill #4: Problem Solving

Problem solving is always important in any industry where professionals deal with clients, and massage therapy is no exception. Problem solving in the massage industry includes accommodating the unique needs and preferences of clients. You may need to find a way to accommodate a client with a specific medical concern. It’s also common to improvise when accounting for a client’s physical limitations. Clients may also make special requests based on their comfort levels due to anxiety, fear, or past traumas that can make a massage experience triggering. Many massage therapists find problem solving to be one of the most rewarding aspects of their career because they can use their skills to accommodate the needs of clients.

Skill #5: Organization

Organization is important for massage therapists because they are tasked with creating a safe, sanitary, and inviting environment for clients. It’s important to develop a system for ensuring that sanitized equipment is available for the next appointment. In addition, it’s important to have a system for keeping track of client appointments. Massage therapists also need to stay organized and create appointment reminders, employ marketing efforts for attracting new clients, and following up with messages or calls from clients looking for appointments.

Skill #5: Time Management

When you become a massage therapist, time is measured by your next booking. A massage therapist’s workday is broken up into different appointment blocks. Many massage therapists prefer to keep set business hours. This allows them to operate in a way that’s similar to how a medical office might operate. However, it’s important to manage time wisely to ensure that you can flow from one appointment to the next without making clients wait. This means quickly starting each massage session without making a client feel rushed. In addition, it’s necessary to be realistic about how many appointments you can book in a row without scheduling small breaks for yourself.

Skill #6: Adaptability

Massage therapists need to be adaptable because every client has different needs. In some cases, it’s necessary to be adaptable regarding your schedule if you decide to freelance instead of work in a clinic setting that provides set hours. Being adaptable as a massage therapist might look like completing massages for an entire bridal party on a Friday before showing up for a full day of in-house appointments at the homes of different clients on a Saturday.

Skill #7: Work Ethic

Work ethic is extraordinarily important for a massage therapist because clients are paying for you to bring your best. What’s more, your work ethic ultimately determines your income. Massage therapists are typically paid by the hour. That means that you only get paid for the time you work.

How Do You Become a Massage Therapist?

The easiest way to begin your career in massage is by receiving the right training and certifications. It’s important to graduate from a massage therapy program at a vocational school to work as a licensed massage therapist. Most programs can be completed in as little as 12 months, attending full-time. If you are ready to start a new career in massage, then we are here to help you every step of the way.

Massage Therapy Program

If you are interested in the healing powers of massage, you can begin your career in massage therapy at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Our short-term massage therapy training program is designed to be completed in as little as 13 months. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their patients as well as develop positive habits for the therapist. Together, those two areas will provide a foundation that can lead to longevity in the career field.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist and starting a rewarding career in the massage industry.

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