Job prospects are excellent for those who seek careers in massage therapy, as more and more doctors and health care professionals recognize the medical benefits of massage. Massage therapy can be used to treat any number of ailments, from sports injuries and chronic back pain to diabetes and nicotine addiction. Massage therapy is also effective in treating stress-related conditions like high blood pressure and depression. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, job growth should be at about 20% through 2016.

Over eighty different techniques (called modalities) are used in massage therapy. A massage therapist will usually specialize in several of these techniques, and use what they know about a patient to decide the best way to treat them. In general, massage therapy improves circulation, increases muscle flexibility, and speeds the removal of metabolic waste from muscles. That’s good news for people recovering from surgery or sore from overexertion.

Massage therapy can be a deeply rewarding career if you have a strong urge to help people. Because so much of the job revolves around treating the individual, massage therapists must be good listeners, highly empathetic, and able to make patients comfortable in their presence.

There are drawbacks to a career in massage therapy. The work can be physically demanding, as massages can last anywhere from five minutes to two hours, depending on the setting, and the massage therapist will have to be able to stand for long periods of time. In addition, the repetitive motions performed while giving massages can lead to strain and injury to hands and wrists. That’s why it is essential for massage therapists to be properly trained.

To begin a career in massage therapy, 29 states and the District of Colombia require a license to practice. You can get that license by taking 500-1000 hours of classroom instruction at an accredited school and passing a certification exam. At an accredited career school, you will learn anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology to understand the human body. You’ll learn both business and ethics to help you establish a practice and how to practice responsibly. And most importantly, you’ll receive hands-on instruction on different massage techniques.

The certification test is called the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, or NCETMB. Your career school training will prepare you to pass this test. As a practicing massage therapist, you currently must renew your certification every four years by performing 200 or more hours of professional massage and take continuing education classes. While regulations vary by state, career prospects are actually better in states that require professional certification.

To get started on the path to professional certification and a career in massage therapy, it’s important to find an accredited school. JustColleges is partnered with accredited career schools across the country. You can use the search feature on the site to find a school near you, or you can browse career schools across the country by program.

Here are just a few examples of the career schools you’ll find at JustColleges:

The Utah College of Massage Therapy has five campus locations, including campuses in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Students may enroll full-time or part-time, and CPR and first aid training are included in the curriculum.

Everest College also offers a diploma in massage therapy. Course work is split between learning therapeutic techniques and the business savvy you’ll need to open your own practice.

With five campuses in Louisiana, Blue Cliff College is committed to providing Louisiana students state-of-the-art instruction. They award both diplomas and associates degrees in massage therapy.

These are just three of the dozens of colleges you’ll find on JustColleges that are committed to the quality training, career preparation, and professional development of today’s massage therapists.

Massage therapy is a growing career field. There are currently between 120,000 and 150,000 massage therapists in the U.S., according to the American Massage Therapy Association. Of those, 64% were self-employed in 2006, and 84% were women.

A career in massage therapy will net you an average of $40,330 per year. Most massage therapists officially only work between 15 and 30 hours per week, but this does not include time needed for travel between clients, rests between massages, and billing.

Massage therapists have a number of choices about how and where to practice. Some own private practices, while others make house calls by bringing their massage tables along with them. Massage therapists are also employed in multidisciplinary clinics, partnered with doctors and chiropractors. Still others enjoy careers at hospitals, nursing homes, spas or alternative medicine centers. Health clubs and gyms employ massage therapists to provide complimentary or reduced-cost massages to members.

There are other less traditional careers available in massage therapy as well. If you are interested in sports medicine, professional sports teams and sport medical centers hire massage therapists, although these positions are among the highest paying and therefore hardest to come by. It is becoming more common for corporations to hire massage therapists to make weekly or monthly office visits as a workplace perk. Because massage can have an emotional healing component, rehabilitation centers for people struggling with addiction or long-term disabilities sometimes employ massage therapists.

Choosing a career in massage therapy essentially means choosing the types of people you would like to help and the specific massage techniques you prefer. To get started on an exciting and rewarding career path as a massage therapist, you need to find a school that is right for you. Use the search features at JustColleges to get more information on accredited career colleges near you.