[Updated] How to make it as a massage therapist

With the future of the massage industry looking bright as employment is projected to grow 32% by 2030, according to the BLS, we asked massage specialists Beata Aleksandrowicz and Christina Tomlin to share their top tips for making it as one of the beauty industry’s top massage therapists.

Qualified since 2006, Tomlin has trained in a variety of wellbeing massages, as well as having diplomas in both advanced deep tissue and pregnancy massage, and has studied Level 3 Sports Massage.

Internationally-acclaimed specialist in massage, facials and spa treatments Aleksandrowicz co-founded the trailblazing Pure Massage in London, and has since launched Aleksandrowicz System, the world’s leading spa training programme.

Six ways to make it big as a massage therapist in the beauty industry:

1. As a massage therapist, you need to have a passion for people

“Initially I trained in make-up because I love the transformative effect it can have. In a way, massage is similar,” shares Tomlin.  

“It’s lovely to have such a positive impact on people. I have clients come in with chronic pain and tell me that after a massage is the only time they sleep properly; it’s a special job in that respect.”

Aleksandrowicz echoes the impact of massage on clients, saying: “There is such an incredible power in the power of touch… For us therapists, it is the prime medium that we use in our work.” 

She adds: “During any treatment given to client we are transmitting our emotions and the client can feel them. Don’t have any illusion that you can hide your dislike for people. 

“We can pretend the expression on our face or sound of our voice, but we cannot pretend our touch.” 

 2. You need to look after yourself physically

Working as a massage therapist is a physical job and it can lead to medical issues such as repetitive strain injury if you don’t look after yourself. 

“It’s like when you start going to the gym – a bit of a slog for the first month but then as you build your muscles it gets easier. You have to look after your arms and posture because that’s your livelihood.” explains Tomlin.

“It’s to do with body weight and using the surface area of your arm rather than digging in with thumbs, knuckles or anywhere where there are tendons that can get damaged.”

3. Learn to separate your emotions when doing massage therapy

“Obviously, massage is a touch therapy, and some people find that an emotional experience because they haven’t had that contact with anyone in a long time, so, it helps to be good at reading people – but you can’t absorb their emotions.” shares Tomlin.

“I’ve got better at that; I meditate and remind myself to leave work at the door. If you’re not mentally in the right space, then you can’t help your client get there.”

Aleksandrowicz agrees and adds: During any treatment given to a client we are transmitting our emotions and the client can feel them. Our hands never lie, and each client receives exactly what is in our heart in the moment of giving treatment.

“If you hold grudges or have a very short tolerance span for other people’s mistakes then you’re in a trouble. Pretending to be nice takes so much energy – you will be exhausted soon.”

4. Don't book full days of massage

Working as a massage therapist, especially if you’re freelance, it can be easy to book back-to-back treatments and forget to take time for yourself, as well as potentially causing scheduling issues if an appointment runs overtime.

“Don't extend your sessions unless you know you have a gap afterwards. It will create a cascade of delayed bookings and will make you so nervous that you won’t be able to work effectively,” advises Aleksandrowicz.

“Make sure that you have everything what you need before you start your shift. Check if you have enough towels and that there is plenty of oil, for example, so you won’t have to fill up the bottles between your clients.”

Self-organisation is also important, as forgetting to do your own tasks can affect your time with your clients. “You will want to run to make that phone call that you were supposed to make or respond to the email that you promised to send last night – this will shorten the amount of time you have between clients, and will also detract from your focus and concentration,” adds Aleksandrowicz.  

“A little planning and forethought can ensure you have a smooth, effective and successful day – each and every day.”

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5. Explore the different career routes for massage therapists

When starting your career as a massage therapist, take time to explore the different avenues to find what you like.

“I decided to get a better feel for different types of massage before specialising, so I went to work in a spa for two years. I found remedial treatments most fulfilling, so I did more short courses including Indian champissage and chronic pain-healing,” shares Tomlin.

“I like being employed rather than freelance as you have guaranteed clients and are protected from cancellations, but massage is a flexible career and it’s easy to do private work alongside – I’m about to do a Reiki master course.”

 6. Why now is the perfect time to specialise in massage

Post pandemic, wellness treatments have seen a significant rise as clients look to take more time for themselves, with the Global Wellness Economy set to reach £5.25 Trillion by 2025. 

“People used to view massage as an occasional luxury but because there’s more awareness of anxiety and stress now, people are taking self-care seriously,” shares Tomlin. 

“Sports massage is probably the most lucrative area to go into because you’re fixing a problem, and you get great repeat custom. Sports and ayurvedic massage tend to pay best, but really, the more you train and build up your specialism the more you can earn.”

 

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