Licensed massage therapists are members of the healthcare community

Licensed massage therapists (LMTs) work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, sports medicine clinics, medical and physical therapy offices/clinics, health clubs, spas, alternative medicine clinics, counseling and rehabilitation centers, and private massage clinics.

The majority of licensed massage therapists are also small business owners. Some are not pursuing the equivalent of a full-time income. Others will manage their small business more aggressively and, as a result, generate larger numbers of repeat clients more quickly. Whatcom's massage therapist program includes course work introducing students to the "business side" of their career.

Due to the vast array of options, employment and wage rates are difficult to specify. According to research conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), in 2015, the average annual income for a massage therapist (including tips) was estimated to be $24,519, working an average of 20 hours a week providing massage. More information can be found in the AMTA’s industry fact sheet.

Employers

Local and regional employers of recent program graduates include:

  • Atlas Chiropractic
  • Blaine Healing Arts Massage Therapy
  • Massage Envy
  • Mountain Meadow Massage
  • One Body Massage and Restoration
  • Sather Chiropractic Center
  • Semiahmoo Spa
  • Silver Reef Hotel Casino and Spa
  • The Apothecary Spa

Licensure

Students who complete WCC’s massage therapist program receive an associate in science degree or a certificate in massage. Students are then eligible to take a national licensure exam, which is one requirement for licensure in Washington state.

Other requirements for licensure include:

  • Statement about:
    • Physical and mental health status
    • Lack of impairment due to chemical dependency/substance abuse
    • History of loss of license, certification or registration
    • Felony convictions
    • Loss or limitations of privileges
    • Disciplinary actions
    • Professional liability claims history
  • State license verification (for applicants who have held licenses in another state)
  • Four hours of HIV/AIDS training
  • First Aid and CPR cards or verification from an approved education program.

These requirements are submitted to the Department of Health, Board of Massage for consideration of licensure. Click here for information from the Washington State Department of Health on applications and forms, education requirements, fees, and laws.

Education and licensing requirements vary between states. Click here for a list of each state's licensing authority and information on licensing requirements and processes.

Career advancement

There are different areas of specialization within the massage profession including:

  • Therapeutic medical massage
  • Infant massage
  • Pregnancy massage
  • Sports massage
  • Wellness massage
  • Massage within the hospitality industry (e.g., hotel spas)

A number of massage professionals choose to pursue related medical professions. These may include acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, and physical therapy. Many choose to specialize within certain practices or modalities, such as Thai massage, acupressure and lymphatic drainage.

In accordance with state licensure requirements, each massage therapist must show a total of at least 24 continuing education (training) hours every two years. Continuing education is often where massage therapists will learn and begin to practice specialty options. The Washington State chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association is the primary resource for massage professionals to find out about continuing education options in addition to many other current topics.

Throughout the massage therapist program at Whatcom, your instructors will be able to explain professional options by sharing their years of training and experience.