Massage Therapist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Massage Therapist, or Massage Practitioner, is responsible for providing relaxation or treating body pain and discomfort through physical touch and moving a client’s muscles. Their duties include meeting with clients to determine the type of massage they needs, creating a relaxing ambiance in their office and kneading or rubbing muscles to release tension.

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Massage Therapist Duties and Responsibilities

A massage therapist is responsible for treating clients through soft tissue manipulation while maintaining a safe and relaxing experience. The therapist should be good at perceiving client wishes and needs through spoken language, body language and other cues and modifying their treatments accordingly. They usually report to the owner or manager of the business.

Here are some typical duties and responsibilities of a massage therapist.

  • Provide 30-60 minute massages to clients by appointment
  • Guide clients through service offerings and determine which massages would benefit them most
  • Take a detailed client history and note any health conditions
  • Evaluate clients to determine painful or stressed areas of the body
  • Advise clients on stretching, strengthening or relaxation methods
  • Suggest future massage appointments and regime to clients
  • Listen to clients during appointments and adjust technique as they desire

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What Does a Massage Therapist Do?

Massage Therapists are generally employed at massage clinics, spas and salons to provide rejuvenating and relaxing massages to clients. Massage Therapists maintain knowledge of human anatomy and the musculoskeletal system so they can effectively target points of tension on a client’s body and ease the symptoms of physical stress. They use varying amounts of pressure to improve circulation and target tense or knotted muscles. Massage Therapists communicate with clients about their comfort level and what areas they would like to focus on, setting clear expectations for what areas of muscle and tissue they plan to address.

Massage Therapist Skills and Qualifications

The required and preferred skills of a massage therapist may include previous work experience, technical skills, soft skills and personality traits. Some states have educational or licensing requirements for massage therapists that should be included here.

Other skills and qualifications for massage therapists may include:

  • Completed 500 hours of massage therapy courses
  • Must hold current massage therapy certification
  • At least four years of experience as a professional massage therapist
  • Experience working in a spa preferred
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills
  • Time management abilities
  • Demonstrated sales and customer service skills

Massage Therapist Salary Expectations

The average massage therapist salary is $28.25 per hour in the U.S. Massage therapist wages commonly range from $7.25 to $67.40 per hour. The starting salary for your open position will vary based on the skills required and the therapist’s experience.

Massage Therapist Education and Training Requirements

Successful completion of a massage therapy program generally requires a minimum of 500 hours of study, but some programs require 1,000 hours. Your business will determine what education level best suits your needs. Most states require massage therapists to be licensed, but this varies. Research this at both the city and state level, as some cities have different standards from the state requirement. If your business is in a locality that requires a license, note this in your job description. Massage therapists may also need to get a CPR certification or a background check or be required to carry liability insurance, either personally or through an employer. Check into the legal requirements for your area and list them in your job description.

Massage Therapist Experience Requirements

Your business will determine what experience level you require of a massage therapist. If you have a team of massage therapists, you may not require any experience beyond their massage therapy program, which will open your application pool to entry-level candidates. For an advanced massage therapist, the general requirement is three years of experience.   

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Frequently asked questions about Massage Therapists


What are the qualities of a good Massage Therapist?

A good Massage Therapist has the physical strength to apply deep pressure when necessary and the self-awareness and control to use a more delicate touch. They have a relaxing energy and speak slowly and calmly when communicating with their clients. Good Massage Therapists are highly intuitive and perceptive, allowing them to notice if a client is experiencing pain or discomfort and adjusting their techniques appropriately. Successful Massage Therapists get to know their clients preferences over time, building a friendly professional relationship with the people they massage. They are also great at managing time, completing the entire massage on a timeline.


What is the difference between a Massage Therapist and a Physical Therapist?

Massage Therapists and Physical Therapists both focus on providing physical treatment to clients, but Massage Therapists focus on using physical touch in a holistic way to improve a client’s quality of life. Physical Therapists generally address a particular injury or condition with the goal of restoring or developing a patient’s physical abilities and strength, while Massage Therapists work with healthy clients to help them feel more relaxed. Massage Therapists work in wellness environments like spas while Physical Therapists work in medical environments such as physical therapy clinics or ambulatory care centers.


What are the types of Massage Therapists?

Massage Therapists can specialize in several different types of massage that use various treatments and methodologies. Some of the popular types of Massage Therapists include Craniosacral Therapists, who massage the temples, jaw and spine, Myofascial Release Therapists, who use gentle tough to massage connective tissue and Neuromuscular Massage Therapists, who manipulate the body to provide deep massage to muscles and tendons. Some other types of Massage Therapists include: Prenatal Massage Therapists, Reiki Therapists, Sports Massage Therapists and Bioenergetic Therapists.


What does a Massage Therapist do on a daily basis?

On a typical day, Massage Therapists see multiple clients. Before each appointment, they review a client’s medical history. They discuss what type of massage the client wants, including areas to focus on, level of pressure and special services like hot stone massage. They prepare the massage table or chair by sanitizing it and replacing the linens, then invite the client to undress to their comfort level while they leave the room. During the massage, the Massage Therapist can play relaxing music and diffuse essential oils while using repetitive motions to target tension.

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