Want to know what kind of salary to expect when you become a masseuse? Here's something you should know first: national salary averages don't mean a lot in an industry where local markets differ considerably from each other. Such is the case in massage therapy.
Here's an example. Most employed massage therapists in Anchorage, Alaska make about $40 per hour, and many of them make $50 or more. The median salary of masseuses and masseurs in Anchorage is $44.17 (2012 figure), in other words half of these workers make lower than $44.17 an hour while the other half make more than that amount.
In contrast, the typical employed masseuse in Pittsburgh, PA earns roughly only $14 an hour, with a median salary of $13.69 an hour. Thus, there's quite a huge gap in the salaries of massage workers between these two places.
To complicate matters, average masseuse salary differences often exist in the same state. In the New York-Hanover, PA area for instance, the average massage therapist salary is $36.99 per hour, which is twice more than the average take home pay of the typical masseuse in Pittsburgh.
So if you are thinking about becoming a masseuse, the first thing that you should do is determine whether the massage market in your area is profitable or not.
Every experienced masseuse knows it – your geographic location has a lot to do with your success in this industry. Every local massage market has its own settling point for salary offers, its own saturation level of massage therapists and businesses, its own acceptable massage rates, type of clients, culture and attitudes, etc. All these come into play in shaping the market that will in turn determine how much you’re likely to earn.
So how much do massage therapists make? It really depends. Some say massage therapists in the U.S. make $75,000 dollars a year, while others say they make only $40,000 and still others say less than $30,000 a year. Either of those can be true depending on which part of the country you are in and what your situation is. To me the question "How much does a massage therapist make?" is a little vague because I know that there are masseuses and masseurs who make more than $100,000 a year, and there are those who can barely make ends meet even when they are working full-time.
But here are the average massage therapist salaries over the past several years:
Is Massage Therapy A Good Career?
Before you spend months of schooling to become a licensed masseuse, you need to make sure that the profession you are entering will not make you regretful in the end. Remember that by choosing this career path, you are making an important turning point in your life, one which can have you incurring a huge loss if you decide to turn back.
Massage therapy is a good career for those who want to work in healthcare without having the risk, tension and discomforts commonly associated with the industry – busy hospital and nursing home settings, suing patients, tight schedules, collecting samples, cleaning up blood, pee, poop, etc. The idea behind massage is relaxation; what therapy is involved is much less serious than that which is being handled by a doctor or a physical therapist. Ordinarily you will be dealing with people with minor or no physical maladies at all.
But to say that massage is a good career is to take out of the picture those who feel regretful about having gone through a massage school and doing massage as a means of making a living, while to say that massage therapy is a bad profession is to take out of the picture the many successful practitioners who are making a lot of money from it and happily going about doing what they’re good at. You have to look at it on a case-to-case basis and more importantly, know the ins and outs of massage practice relative to your market, regardless of whether you are into it for employment or private practice.
But if you are seriously thinking about entering this field, I would advise you to not go about doing it without reading first the Massage Career Counseling Handbook. It compiles the most accurate average MT salary and competition data and ranks the cities and non-urban areas all over the United States in terms of potential marketability so you’ll have an idea about how much you can earn where you are planning to work. The average salary figures I gave for local areas above are excerpts from this report.
In it also are information about the day-to-day realities of being a massage therapist, job opportunities, being employed vs. having a private practice, how to find financing and scholarships, how to avoid becoming a regretful massage therapist, and how to plan a successful career before you attempt to obtain a massage license. It guides you on the legal aspects of massage therapy, training, insurance coverage, licensing laws and certification, professional associations, marketing, etc. It’s not really what you can call a normal handbook because it contains more than 100 pages.
The best thing about it and the reason that it’s recommendable is that it gives you advice on whether or not you should pursue massage therapy in the first place, saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars and years of your life should you pursue it and fail to be successful in it. If it’s good, then you’re armed and guided so you know how to take advantage of this profession, which can be very lucrative if you do things right. From the viewpoint of a person who wants to undergo massage training, this handbook is crucial. By not trying to pursue massage therapy you can be missing out on a great opportunity, but if you do it haphazardly it can also be a great mistake.