One of the perks of becoming a massage therapist is that you have to opportunity to work for yourself. Many people who study massage therapy do so for the freedom that goes along with opening a business. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 64% of massage therapists were self-employed in 2006. Once you graduate from a massage therapy school, you’ll need some basic equipment to start your own practice. Unless you have initial start-up funds, you’ll probably begin by going to your clients’ homes. Here’s what you need to become your own massage therapy business on wheels.

Massage Chair and Table

It should go without saying that at the very least, you need a portable massage table and probably a chair to start a massage therapy business. You may want to also consider purchasing neck bolsters, arm and foot rests, and adjustable headrests to make your clients more comfortable.

As long as you start out with the necessary essentials, you can add more accessories as you go. Early on, you’ll probably want to buy cases for the massage table and chair to protect them from travel damage. Also consider buying the big equipment used to cut down on start-up costs.

Massage Oils, Lotions, and Creams

While your hands are most likely your best asset as a massage therapist, you will need a good supply of oils, lotions, and creams when you start your own massage therapy business. Don’t forget to stock up on hypoallergenic and organic products for your sensitive and picky customers.

Towels and a Portable Towel Cabinet

You’ll need plenty of towels to start your own massage therapy business, of course. But a towel is just a towel until it becomes a deliciously warm towel placed in exactly the right spot. In addition to the towels, you’ll need a portable towel cabinet to warm them onsite.

Stones and a Heating Device

Hot and cold stone massages are incredibly relaxing and popular. Because so many massage therapists now incorporate stone massages into their routines, you’ll need the equipment to provide this service when you start your own massage therapy business.

Relaxation CDs, a CD Player, and Candles

Part of being a good massage therapist is putting your client quickly at ease. Soothing music and a portable CD player are cheap and easy investments. Candles, particularly scented candles, help to provide a whole sensory experience you can’t give with touch alone. You should be able to create a whole new calming environment in minutes, even in a client’s living room.


While certification and licensing requirements vary by state, you should never attempt to start a massage therapy business unprepared. An untrained massage therapist can do serious damage to an unsuspecting client. At the very least, you need to complete a massage therapy program, and you may also need to pass a licensing exam depending on where you live.

For a list of schools that offer massage therapy programs, see the Massage Therapy Schools directory.