Massage Therapists: Salary Overview
Massage therapists relieve pain, improve circulation, relieve stress, increase relaxation, and help heal injuries using touch.
Their job description usually includes talking with clients about their medical history and symptoms, locating the painful or tense areas in their clients’ bodies, manipulating muscles and other soft tissue using touch, educating clients on stretching and relaxation methods, and documenting their clients’ progress.
Massage therapists typically specialize in one or several massage techniques, such as Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, or sports massage.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for massage therapists was $42,820 in May 2019, which means that half of them earned less than this amount while half earned more.
Salaries vary depending on a wide range of factors, including the therapist’s level of experience, education, the region, and their skills.
The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,810 while the highest 10 percent made more than $80,630 a year.
Many massage therapists supplement their earnings with tips.
Those who have good technical and communication skills and provide high-quality services can earn more in tips than in their fixed salary.
Massage Therapist Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapists held about 159,800 jobs in the United States in 2018, most of them working in the field of personal care services or as self-employed workers.
BLS report shows that the average annual wage reported by massage therapists in personal care services was $45,060 while those who were employed in offices of other health practitioners earned, on average, $50,700 a year.
The average annual wage was $47,050 for massage therapists in the travel accommodation industry and $44,860 for those in other amusement and recreation industries.
Massage therapists who worked in offices of physicians reportedly earned $47,340 a year as of May 2019.
The highest average annual salary was reported by massage therapists who worked for specialty hospitals (except psychiatric and substance abuse).
In this sector, the reported average annual wage was $67,560.
Salaries were also higher for massage therapists who were employed in the field of individual and family services.
In this sector massage therapists reportedly earned $62,210 on average.
The region of employment is another factor that may influence a massage therapist’s salary.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top-paying states for this profession were Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.
The average annual wage reported by massage therapists in Alaska was $77,080 as of May 2019, significantly higher than the national average.
Massage therapists in Washington reportedly earned $65,770 on average, while those in Oregon reported an average annual wage of $62,130.
Massage therapists in Mississippi, Lousiana, South Dakota, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, South Carolina, Iowa, and Nevada, on the other hand, reported average annual salaries that were below the $40,000 mark.
Earning the National Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) certification can qualify you for licensure in any state.
There are many other factors that can influence your earnings as a massage therapist.
Having a few years of experience and completing your continuing education classes will help you improve your skills and learn new techniques.
If you’re able to practice multiple massage techniques you may have more clients and thus you will earn more.
Joining a professional organization is another way to find new clients and to build a reputation.
Job prospects for massage therapists are looking good in the future.
As more people start to accept massage therapy as a way to treat illnesses and alleviate pain, the demand for massage therapists is projected to grow.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for massage therapists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
* Based on information from the May 2019 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Massage Therapists. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.