What's the average salary of a message therapist

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Sean in Los Angeles, California

89 months ago

About to finish school with the courses

Seminar for Success
Swedish Massage
Shiatsu Massage
Sports Massage/Reflexology
Spa Services/Wellness Strategies
Understanding Pain/Alternative Massage Methods, I.
Deep Tissue/Alternative Massage Methods, II.

I just don't how much salary a new message therapist gets starting off. Any help or comments will be appreciated.

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elsewhere in Burbank, California

89 months ago

Sean- You are in Los Angeles so here's what's in your favor by being here, there are lots of people here obviously but also there's also an overall awareness of taking care of oneself that is pretty elevated compared to many other places in this country. A lot of that has to do with being in a large media center. A good massage therapist who builds a nice private client base can easily make over 100k in this town. There are many of us doing this. That's not to say you can start out that way but it is a reasonable figure to achieve. Now for those of us that live here 100k doesn't go as far as it would in say Kansas, or Indianapolis. It's all relative. Los Angeles is an expensive place to live. But for me it's about creating freedom for yourself as well. You could work full time in an ME and make maybe 30K. Ouch!

You seem to have had a good training program. Where did you go? MSSM or IPSB or one of the college programs?

Here's the deal, working in a place like Massage Envy you might gain some hands on experience right off the bat but you would also start off in the low end of the pay cycle. There's a psychological component to this, once you get used to making maybe 20 bucks a massage that awareness is going to either become what you think MT's should get paid for this or worse, what others feel you're worth. People in Los Angeles are pretty hip about body work and if they find out you work for an ME they will probably stigmatize you (unfairly or not) as someone that couldn't make it on their own and probably aren't very good. Everyone out here knows that the best body workers generally work solo because they don't have to work for anyone else and give them 50% of their worth. I truly believe that if you don't panic you can be making twice the money in half the time of these cheapo massage places that are sprouting up. It's really all about building relationships. I have people I have seen every week for over 20 years. You won't ever see that in an ME.

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About to Graduate in Michigan in White Lake, Michigan

89 months ago

Good advice, Elsewhere in Burbank, no matter where you live....Thanks!

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elsewhere in Burbank, California

89 months ago

Thanks "About to Graduate." I really want to see body workers do well. One thing they have to understand is that there is a psychologocal component to personal services like getting a massage. Massage Envy would have you believe that people are seeking a "bargain basement price" and I just don't see that mindset being as pervasive as they would have you believe.

Lots of newcomers fall for this. My business went crazy busy when many years ago I "raised" my prices. It has a psychological effect on people. They figure that higher end MT's have separated themselves from the pack and they want the best hands they can get.

Getting a massage is a very personal and intimate thing. For many it's a rewarding respite from a stress filled life. I'll give you an example, if a person likes wine and is going to have a glass of wine to reward themselves and take the edge off do they pick a warm bottle of Thunderbird off a 7/11 shelf or something perhaps more expensive and thereby more of a reward? Do they get a quarter pounder with cheese or a nice filet? Which makes them feel more rewarded?

Let ME's serve "mac and cheese", differentiate yourselves by being AAA gourmet. Don't dream it, be it. You are selling yourself. If you've put good time and money into an education aren't you worth more? Don't you think you deserve it?

Yeah, you do. Now go and get it.

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About to Graduate in Michigan in White Lake, Michigan

89 months ago

Put the Tony Robbins tape down.... step away from the Tony Robbins tape.... slowly...slowly.... :)

Seriously, your advise and enthusiam is right on. And greatly appreciated. I plan on working for myself and love to hear about people who are successful at it.

A question for you: What percentage of people are seeking a relaxation massage versus those seeking theraputic? Thanks!

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elsewhere in Burbank, California

89 months ago

Sorry if I drifted into motivational speaker mode. Just trying to counter so much bad info these days.

Body work has changed somewhat over the years. In the 90's there was a strong movement towards "transformational" body work, "body/mind" stuff. We were schooled in everything, rolfing, Reichian, CST, Traeger, psychotherapy, Marxism, you name it. I used to see a lot of clients for that kind of work. If you see someone on a weekly basis it's important to be ready for anything. That said, relaxation seems to be very popular and why not? It's a stressful world. People need a break and it can be very powerful just to let go. These days I do about 80% deep relaxation work. "Medical" massage is trying to get more of a foothold and it's a valid type of work but too many of those types feel a real need to align themselves with the AMA protocols and call their clients "patients" and stuff like that. Lots of them want to play "doctor" and de-mystify anything "non science" based about massage and face it touch is powerful and can be mysterious. That's part of the allure.

The problems with ME's is their economic model. Mass production, high volume, "get'em in get'em out" massage. Focus on revenues and returns for business owners over quality. Massage isn't a widget for mass production, it's something more special than that. This is why I am convinced that while they are riding a wave of success now it will be short lived. They have failed to truly understand the power of touch and healing by making it a cash cow for a select few.

I say focus on doing outcalls if you can. ME's and the like can't touch you there and your overhead is almost zero. Live a life of voluntary simplicity. Work on building relationships. That's what it's really all about.

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About to Graduate in Michigan in White Lake, Michigan

89 months ago

Thanks again for the great advice. (And, I hope you didn't take offense at my motivational speaker reference, just trying to be.... well, funny.)

I'm glad to hear your perspective that most people want deep relaxation massage. That's what I enjoy giving and feel that I'm pretty good at it (I get a lot of repeat clients at the student clinic and have never once received a bad review.) I also simply don't feel qualified to give any kind of therapeutic massage at this point...

I won't work at a place like Massage Envy because of all the reasons you stated above. I'm also not interested in breaking my body making $30,000 or less a year. My goal is to make at least twice that working half as much. Plus, I don't understand the name. Why "Envy?" Why name your business -- ostensibly devoted to making life better -- using one of the Seven Deadly Sins in the title? I think the name has a bad vibe to it.

Another question for you: What are your thoughts on what you charge in relation to the size of the person you're massaging? For instance, a massage on a 5 foot 3 inch woman who weighs 130 pounds is a whole lot less work than the same massage on a 6 foot 2 inch man (or woman for that matter) who weighs 250 pounds. Shouldn't the price you charge be relative to the size of the person? Even car washes charge more for the larger SUVs, trucks. Would appreciate your feedback.

Thanks again!

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elsewhere in Burbank, California

89 months ago

You really can't discriminate according to size. That's just one of those things you have to figure will balance itself out based on the numbers of people you see. Remember though, you can always do this, if you don't enjoy working on someone for any reason, size, attitude, etc you can always refer them out.

I like your idea about your business model goals. I try to work no more than 25 hours a week. At my rate of pay I can still make more than enough to keep myself free and happy but the important thing is that after 25 years of doing this I have never had an injury, been burned out or not looked forward to doing my work. I've had the freedom to have a great life, learn to play the harp, stuff like that. If you've checked out this forum much you will see that so many of the MT's working at ME find that they are being used up and overworked. The commodity here is an exchange of human energy. The owners don't care if they use you up on their assmebly line, thats why there is constant turnover and they are always posting ads looking for other people to work for them.

I'm with you on their business name too, sounds arrogant and smug.

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fed up in Wilmette, Illinois

89 months ago

elsewhere in Burbank, California said: You really can't discriminate according to size. That's just one of those things you have to figure will balance itself out based on the numbers of people you see. Remember though, you can always do this, if you don't enjoy working on someone for any reason, size, attitude, etc you can always refer them out.

I like your idea about your business model goals. I try to work no more than 25 hours a week. At my rate of pay I can still make more than enough to keep myself free and happy but the important thing is that after 25 years of doing this I have never had an injury, been burned out or not looked forward to doing my work. I've had the freedom to have a great life, learn to play the harp, stuff like that. If you've checked out this forum much you will see that so many of the MT's working at ME find that they are being used up and overworked. The commodity here is an exchange of human energy. The owners don't care if they use you up on their assmebly line, thats why there is constant turnover and they are always posting ads looking for other people to work for them.

I'm with you on their business name too, sounds arrogant and smug.

Very well said!

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LMT with 13 years experience in New York, New York

89 months ago

Hey, about to graduate: one way to kind of control the "size" thing in your practice is to limit your work to just one modality or clientele. Whilst it is unethical to discriminate monetarily against a subset of people due to say, size or difficulty of exceptionally tight and knotted tissue, it is acceptable to concentrate your practice in just one area, as long as you are consistent in that limitation, and don't apply it arbitrarily after sizing up the difficulty of the work in front of you. If you refuse one client because they want deep tissue work on their massively knotted body, you can't very well turn around and accept the cream puff who wants their deep tissue. :-)

If you loathe the idea of regularly breaking rocks in linebackers for a living, you could aim your business model to a clientele that has a much higher likeliehood of being smaller, easier, etc. -- like just women, just prenatal, just fibromyalgia (where your focus can be on slow work, not deep -- schools of thought on protocol vary). Likewise, you can try to guide your practice to being a gentler modality, such as lymphatic, circulatory, relaxing swedish, Reiki, Cranio-Sacral, etc. Then, no matter who you work on, the work is going to be inherently gentle and easy on your hands.

That all said, I find that the bulk of my work comes from flat out breaking the rocks. New York is a stressed out town, and there's no shortage of folks who almost ask to have a bat taken to their shoulders. :-)

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Gonzalo in South East, Florida

87 months ago

Last time I checked Mexicans make more than 100k in L.A. picking tomatoes. Like you say its all relative.your just picking your posion. In any I can clearly see none of you guys are getting the point here. The MARKET is changing. People are making less money, and want more goods and services. Itâs been happening for years now, and it has happened to highly educated PHDs who use to sell stocks in the 80 and 90s, Doctors who spend 10-15 years of their lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and hardships, to find out they will no longer make the easy quarter million the old guys made, cause there are new guys, and more new guys who are willing to do the same for 120k a year. So don’t act like you’re the victims. The way I see it is..ME charges $39 of which the therapist get $15 + a Tip (average of $5, from what I’ve read here) and they are giving you guys the opportunity to make an additional $5 if you did your job right and your client wants to keep coming in to see you ( at which point when he/she requests you specifically because of your excellent talent you will be paid $17. So a client can potentially represent $22-$25 x session and the owner of ME is getting $24. So basically you guys are almost making the same amount as the owner, without the risks involved in having to run a place. How is this the highway robbery” you guys are making it out to be??? The owner pays rent, insurance, materials, health benefits, electricity, advertising, merchant credit card fees for your tips that you are not being deducted, franchising royalty fees, cost of cleaning linen, not to mention the money hungry banks who charge 12%- 14% interest on an SBA loan for 300k+ to be able to offer you guys a stable clean environment where you are guaranteed constant work, without the hassles of dealing with managing clients, working for free, dealing with landlords, inventory, cleaning bills for linen, and running a business

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larushka in Tustin, California

81 months ago

I think you have ME completely upside down. They are bringing massage to people who could not otherwise afford it. Previously, massage WAS for the elite few, because it is so unaffordable and out of reach for most people. ME's whole purpose is to make massage affordable on a regular basis. What is so bad about that? Many MT's prefer to work for ME, so that they have guaranteed regular work, without all the worries and overheads and risks of running a business - yes they might (and do) earn less per hour, but there's also loads of benefits too. Many do remain working there, but equally as many move on after they have developed their skills and client base. I just don't see why it is bad to commercialize massage. ME is providing jobs to MTs who maybe couldn't get work elsewhere,especially when starting out - isn't that a good thing? I am someone who used to get expensive massages, but can't afford to any more - quite honestly, I'm glad for an alternative place to go...and if the MT is good, I'll give them a good tip, which goes 100% in their pocket, irrespective of the massage price.

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Fed Up in Wilmette, Illinois

81 months ago

larushka in Tustin, California said: I think you have ME completely upside down. They are bringing massage to people who could not otherwise afford it. Previously, massage WAS for the elite few, because it is so unaffordable and out of reach for most people. ME's whole purpose is to make massage affordable on a regular basis.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! ME's sole purpose is to get really rich really fast at the cost of abusing their therapists and paying them garbage! Their business model is very shortsighted and a failure waiting to happen. ME puts their clinics in areas where the average income is actually very high, so it's not intended for those who can't afford it, as you assert. They have done more to ruin the massage industry in this country in just a few short years than I ever thougth possible. Massage Enmey is indefensible!! I hope this helps you understand the truth.

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About to Graduate in Michigan in White Lake, Michigan

81 months ago

I agree with Larushka. I worked for exactly one week at a place that's very similar to ME -- It's called Elements and they'll soon be coming to a town near you. They paid an unbelievable $15 per massage and promised tips so that you'd average between $25 and $35. WRONG. Most people tipped 5 bucks. I don't know any MT worth their weight who'd massage six people a day for an average of around $100 a day. AND, they gave you zero time for soap notes. No problem, you were expected do them from home on your own computer ON YOUR OWN TIME!!!!!! Tell me, how much would you tip an overworked MT that's got exactly five minutes between massages to prepare the room and themselves for you? What do you seriously think the quality of your massage would be? A 50 minute massage -- if you're lucky, more like 45 minutes -- for upwards of $60?? How much would YOU tip?

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