Date Published: 1 July 2011

Massage Therapist Salary

Massage therapist salary may not be the first thing potential massage therapists consider when researching the possibility of a career in massage or in alternative medicine generally.

Despite some efforts to find-out how much massage therapists are paid, such information is difficult to source with any degree of reliability. Obviously there will be regional variations (both between and within countries), differences according to the level of the massage therapist's training, qualifications and experience, and differences associated with the type of massage service provided and any additional benefits to clients e.g. facilities may vary in luxury from that of a spa with pools and saunas available for use before and after - to just a spare/treatment room in a therapist's home.

This article considers:

  1. How to estimate how much a massage therapist could earn, and also
  2. Some of the non-financial positive aspects of working as a massage therapist.

These issues are related because some consider that a massage therapist salary is not just measured in pounds and pence (or dollars and cents, or whatever) but also in the intangible joys, satisfaction, and other aspects of working as a massage therapist.


How to estimate a possible massage therapist salary

One reason why it is difficult to find specific information about massage therapist salaries in the UK is that many massage therapists are self-employed or work for their own small companies. In general, the more employed positions available for a type of occupation, the easier it is to find and compare the salaries advertised and correlate salary details with other information such as location, qualifications required, and other benefits e.g. private health schemes, pensions, company car etc..

When a sector includes a large proportion of self-employed practitioners, be they massage therapists or people providing any other type of service from plumbing to pet-sitting, one must to use different approaches to estimate how much they are likely to earn. One way to start is to look at how much e.g. massage therapists in a particular area charge per treatment or per hour.
It would be a serious mistake to work-out an equivalent salary based on that information alone.

Bear in mind that the massage therapist will have to meet a whole series of business costs before being able to use the remaining money, if any, personally. There may be some relatively large costs to budget for over the course of the year, including premises, training and continuing professional development, insurance, membership of relevant organizations, subscriptions to professional publications, marketing (which may include market research, networking and advertising) and of course accountancy fees and taxes. There will also be many more day-to-day costs such as travel, telephone or other communication costs, consumables for treatments e.g. massage carrier oils, essential oils (in the case of aromatherapists), paper products such as couch roll, handwipes, towels (and laundry), sometimes also a uniform or uniforms (and laundry).

IvyRose has been in contact with many massage therapists based in the UK and Ireland since this website was launched in 2003. Some self-employed massage therapists who have been good enough to share their experiences with us over the years have not always made a profit, especially not initially when costs are highest due to training in further massage techniques and massage disciplines (e.g. sports massage, deep-tissue massage, massage in pregnancy etc.), together with the expenses of launching any new business. That situation could therefore be summarized as "massage therapist salary = £0/pa". That is not as bad as it may seem because many businesses require some initial investment in advance of generating profit. Also bear in mind that many self-employed massage therapists only work part-time as massage therapists and so their massage therapist salary may be restricted by the hours/times when they can offer treatments, but supported by income from other employment or business activity.

In summary re. estimation of possible massage therapist salary:

Employed Massage Therapist Salary

Self-Employed Massage Therapist Salary

Volunteer Massage Therapist Salary

Amounts are difficult to estimate and, especially initially, costs may exceed income. To estimate a likely salary you may need to write a business plan including best-guesses of income and costs. Help may be available from local business advisors and/or people who are already working as therapists in your area or a similar area (in terms of costs, demand, and "going rate" paid).

See also Business for Therapists.

Let's not forget the fantastic therapists who volunteer to donate some or all of their time to those in need, such as in hospices, care centers, or other charities.

Their Massage Therapist Salary may be £0/pa in strict cash terms but the value they contribute to their clients £Priceless.

  • Employed Massage Therapist Salary - Research job ads in local newspapers and online. Contact possible employers such as spas, fitness clubs, beauty salons, alternative health centres, luxury holiday providers (e.g. cruise lines) etc.. We used various search terms to look for massage therapist salary information online. We only found a few positions advertised and most of those didn't specify the salary. Some were even advertising for a "self-employed" massage therapist. Anecdotally we've heard of amounts in the region of £15k/pa - £25k/pa* with figures at the lower-end of that scale being more common. The reality may be higher if salaries increase with service and inflation, and if overtime and bonuses are added.
  • Self-Employed Massage Therapist Salary - Amounts are difficult to estimate and, especially initially, costs may exceed income. To estimate a likely salary you may need to write a business plan including best-guesses of income and costs. Help may be available from local business advisors and/or people who are already working as therapists in your area or a similar area (in terms of costs, demand, and "going rate" paid).
  • Volunteer Massage Therapist Salary - Let's not forget the fantastic therapists who volunteer to donate some or all of their time to those in need, such as in hospices, care centers, or other charities. Their Massage Therapist Salary may be £0/pa in strict cash terms but the value they contribute to their clients £Priceless.

Conclusion:

While it can be argued that it is possible to earn a great living doing pretty much anything you truly love to do, some occupations are generally more lucrative that others. Some may aim to earn a fortune as a massage therapist and we certainly wouldn't want to rule that out - in fact we have heard of therapists doing really very well. However, general indications are that in most cases full-time massage therapists are not very highly paid. As with many skills and professions, setting-up in business oneself involves more administration, research and marketing - hence often much more work overall - but also the potential for much higher earnings, if successful.


Non-financial rewards for work as a therapist

Many student massage therapists are training, not to become professional therapists (meaning to work as a massage therapist as his/her main or only occupation), but to improve their massage techniques for private use among friends or family e.g. to improve the quality of life of a child or other relative who has health issues. Others intend to incorporate massage into their day-to-day work as a useful "extra", e.g. hairdressers learning indian head massage or chiropodists learning to give a good foot massage.

Taking a broader perspective of the rewards for work as a massage therapist, here is a list of a few non-financial benefits:

  • Appreciation from clients
  • Meeting people
  • Making a difference
  • Helping people feel well & appreciate their bodies
  • Work includes some physical activity
  • May inspire interest in alternative medicine more generally and a whole new direction in life ...
  • Not a "desk" job; no computer screens all day
  • Interact with related professionals
  • Every day is different, or at least not guaranteed to be exactly the same

... in no particular order:

  • Appreciation from clients
  • Helping people feel well and appreciate their bodies
  • Not a "desk" job; no computer screens all day !
  • Meeting people
  • Work includes some physical activity
  • Interact with related professionals
  • Making a difference
  • May inspire interest in alternative medicine more generally and a whole new direction in life ...
  • Every day is different, or at least not guaranteed to be exactly the same

 

So, how well has this article answered the question: "What is a typical massage therapist salary?" It has not provided a clear answer in terms of specific salary figures because there is no fixed salary scale for all massage therapists. It would be much easier to find and specify a typical teacher's salary, nurse's salary, or that of any unionized trade or profession (with reference to a particular time and place, obviously). Hopefully this general information is, nevertheless, useful.

For more guidance about how much a massage therapist salary might be, how about researching beauty industry salaries - and perhaps even asking about vacancies for massage therapists at the same time ?

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Source: IvyRose Holistic Article.

This is not medical, First Aid or other advice and is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment. Consult an expert in person. Care has been taken when compiling this page but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This material is copyright.

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