With the tremendous growth of massage therapy has come an even greater growth in the number of massage schools. Schools that specialize in other subjects found that it was easy to add a massage therapy program to capitalize on this growing demand – just hire an instructor and hang a new sign on the door. But the increase in the number of massage therapy programs and schools also brought a sharp decline in the quality of massage schools. More than ever, it is important to choose a massage school carefully.
All massage schools are not the same. Where you go to massage school matters. You need to choose carefully to make sure you go to a quality school.
So, how do you find a quality massage school? You do your homework and you ask questions. We recommend that you use the criteria below to evaluate massage schools that you are considering. To help guide you, all of the descriptions of schools on this site highlight the same criteria.
Does the school specialize in training massage therapists? You want to avoid schools that offer every program under the sun or that specialize in areas outside of massage therapy. Many quality massage schools also offer other alternative health programs or spa-related programs (including skin care). But, if the school you are looking at seems to focus on other things, you need to ask some hard questions to make sure that they are offering a quality massage therapy program.
A quality massage program will teach a great many modalities (types of massage). Some schools will just teach you a basic Swedish massage, which is fine as far as that goes, but there is so much more to massage therapy than that. And, if you don’t know more than Swedish massage, your career is going to be a short one. Check out our What You Learn in Massage School page for a list of modalities that many of the best massage schools teach. The more modalities a school teaches, the better the program is likely to be, the better massage therapist you will be, and the better your massage therapy career will be.
Years in Business / Reputation
The longer a massage school has been in business, the more likely it is that it offers a quality massage therapy education. Word gets out about bad schools and they don’t tend to last. Ask how long the school has been in business (or, if it is a massage therapy program in a school that doesn’t focus on massage, how long the massage therapy program has been offered). Ask people who hire massage therapists in your area – spa directors, doctors, chiropractors – which school’s graduates they prefer to hire. This will tell you volumes about the quality of education you will receive at a particular school and the quality of the career you are likely to have after graduation.
Accreditation should be a big factor in your decision about where to go to school. The United States Department of Education recognizes a number of accreditation bodies that evaluate schools and accredit them. You don’t want to go to a massage school that is not accredited. Period. Accreditation from any of the national or regional accrediting agencies is acceptable.
Federal Financial Aid
Accreditation is also important because it allows a massage school to offer federal financial aid to qualified applicants. If paying for massage school is an issue for you, be sure to choose a school that offers federal financial aid to those who qualify.
Talk to the Career Services representatives at any massage school you are considering attending. How much help does the school offer its graduates in finding a job? What is the quality of that support? Some schools post a few jobs on a bulletin board and call that Career Services. Other schools work with students and graduates and employers to make sure that their graduates have the best possible chance of landing the job of their dreams. When you talk to the Career Services representatives, ask specific questions. How many job listings do they have for their students? What will the school do to help you find a job? And, how long will you get the support you need? The best massage schools offer job placement assistance to their graduates throughout their careers.
Schedules / Time Frame
Check to make sure that any massage school you consider has a class schedule available that matches your availability to go to class … and a schedule that will allow you to complete the program in a time frame that is acceptable to you. Do you need evening classes? Do you need to be done with school within a year? Compare the different schools you are considering to make sure they can accommodate you.
Find a Quality Massage School Near You