Becoming a Certified Massage Therapist: Key Steps to Take

Becoming a Certified Massage Therapist: Key Steps to Take

Are you passionate about helping others relax and relieve stress through the power of touch? If so, becoming a certified massage therapist may be the perfect career path for you. In this article, we will outline the key steps you need to take in order to become a certified massage therapist and start your rewarding career in the field of massage therapy.

Education and Training Requirements

Earn a high school diploma or equivalent

Before pursuing a career as a certified massage therapist, it is important to have a high school diploma or equivalent. This serves as the basic educational requirement for entering a massage therapy program.

Complete a massage therapy program

Once you have obtained a high school diploma, the next step is to enroll in a massage therapy program. These programs provide comprehensive training in anatomy, physiology, and various massage techniques. It is essential to choose a program that is accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) or another recognized accrediting body.

Obtain a massage therapy license

After completing a massage therapy program, aspiring massage therapists must obtain a license to practice in their state. Licensing requirements vary by state, but typically include passing a national certification exam, completing a certain number of training hours, and submitting to a background check. Once licensed, massage therapists can begin their career helping clients improve their physical and mental well-being through the power of touch.

Gaining Practical Experience

Once you have completed your training and obtained certification as a massage therapist, gaining practical experience is essential to further develop your skills and build a strong client base. There are several ways you can gain practical experience in the field:

Internship or Apprenticeship

One of the most common ways to gain practical experience as a massage therapist is through an internship or apprenticeship program. This involves working under the supervision of experienced massage therapists in a professional setting, such as a spa, clinic, or wellness center. During an internship or apprenticeship, you will have the opportunity to practice your skills, learn new techniques, and gain valuable hands-on experience working with clients.

Volunteer Work

Volunteering is another great way to gain practical experience as a massage therapist while giving back to your community. You can offer your services at local events, wellness fairs, or charity organizations to provide massages to those in need. Volunteering not only allows you to practice your skills in a real-world setting but also helps you build connections and relationships within the community.

Working in a Spa or Clinic

Working in a spa or clinic is a common career path for many massage therapists looking to gain practical experience and establish themselves in the industry. By working in a professional setting, you will have the opportunity to work with a diverse range of clients, hone your skills, and gain valuable experience in client management and business operations. Working in a spa or clinic also provides you with the opportunity to learn from experienced therapists and receive feedback on your work, helping you further improve your skills and grow as a professional.

Specializing in a Specific Area

When it comes to becoming a certified massage therapist, one way to stand out in the field is by specializing in a specific area. By focusing on a particular type of massage, you can cater to a niche market and become known for your expertise in that area.

Sports Massage

Sports massage is a popular specialization for massage therapists who work with athletes and active individuals. This type of massage focuses on preventing and treating sports-related injuries, improving flexibility and performance, and speeding up recovery time. To specialize in sports massage, you may need additional training and certification in techniques such as myofascial release, stretching, and sports-specific massage protocols.

Prenatal Massage

Prenatal massage is another in-demand specialization that caters to expectant mothers. Pregnancy can cause a variety of discomforts, such as back pain, swelling, and stress, and prenatal massage can help alleviate these symptoms. To specialize in prenatal massage, you will need to learn safe and effective techniques for working with pregnant clients, as well as understanding the physiological changes that occur during pregnancy.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is a therapeutic massage technique that focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue. This type of massage is beneficial for relieving chronic pain, improving posture, and reducing muscle tension. To specialize in deep tissue massage, you will need to develop strong hands-on skills and learn how to apply firm pressure without causing discomfort or injury to your clients.

By specializing in a specific area such as sports massage, prenatal massage, or deep tissue massage, you can attract clients who are looking for targeted treatments and establish yourself as an expert in your field. Consider pursuing additional training and certification in your chosen specialization to enhance your skills and credibility as a massage therapist.


In conclusion, becoming a certified massage therapist requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to ongoing learning. By following the key steps outlined in this article, including completing a formal training program, obtaining hands-on experience, and obtaining certification, you can embark on a rewarding career in the field of massage therapy. Remember to stay current with industry trends and techniques to provide the best possible care for your clients. With determination and passion for helping others, you can achieve your goal of becoming a successful certified massage therapist.