The following is a compilation of data gathered from U.S. government statistics, surveys of consumers and massage therapists and recent clinical studies on the efficacy of massage. These data provide an overview of the current state of the massage therapy profession, public and medical acceptance of the value of massage and increasing consumer usage of massage therapy.

Massage Therapy As A Profession
Who Is Today’s Massage Therapist?
Massage Therapy as a Career
Education Is Valued In The Massage Therapy Profession
State Regulation Of The Massage Profession Rapidly Growing
Who Gets Massage, Where And Why?
Massage And Healthcare
Massage Therapy Research

Massage Therapy As A Profession

  • In 2005, massage therapy was projected to be a $6 to $11 billion a year industry.
  • It is estimated that there are 265,000 to 300,000 massage therapists and massage school students in the United States.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor  employment for massage therapists is expected to increase 20 percent from 2006 to 2016, faster than average for all occupations.
  • Between August 2006 and June 2007, almost a quarter of adult Americans (24 percent) had a massage at least once in the last 12 months.

Who Is Today’s Massage Therapist?

Today’s Massage Therapists are…

  • Most likely to enter the massage therapy profession as a second career.
  • Predominantly female (85%).
  • In their early-40s, on average.
  • Most likely to be members of a professional organization.
  • Most likely to be sole practitioners.
  • Working an average of 19 hours a week providing massage. (Excluding time spent on other business tasks such as billing, bookkeeping, supplies, maintaining equipment, marketing, scheduling, etc.)
  • Charging an average of $60 for one hour of massage.
  • Earning an average wage of $39 an hour (including tip) for all massage related work.
  • Giving an average of 41 massages per month.
  • Working in the industry on average for 7 years.
  • Likely to provide massage therapy in a number of settings, including their own home, spa/salon, their own office, a healthcare setting, health club/athletic facility, or massage therapy only franchise or chain.
  • Eighty-two percent (82%) of massage therapists provide Swedish massage , followed by 70 percent who provide deep tissue massage , 43 percent trigger point , and 40 percent sports massage .

Massage Therapy as a Career

Massage therapy can be a rewarding and flexible career

  • The average annual income for a massage therapist (including tips) who provides 15 hours of massage per week is $30,000, compared to $28,170 for full-time healthcare support workers; $27,190 for full-time medical assistants and $23,290 for occupational therapist aides.
  • While massage therapists work in a variety of work environments, sole practitioners or independent contractors account for the largest percentage of practicing therapists (76 percent).
  • Seventy-six percent (76%) started practicing massage therapy as a second career.
  • Fifty-one percent (51%) of massage therapists say they would not want to work more hours of massage than they presently do.
  • More than half of massage therapists (57%) also earn income working in another profession.
  • Of those massage therapists who earn income working in another profession, twenty-four percent work in healthcare while 21 percent practice other forms of body work and 20 percent work in education.

Education Is Valued In The Massage Therapy Profession

  • There are over 300 accredited massage schools and programs in the United States.
  • Today there are more than 87,000 Nationally Certified massage therapists. To become Nationally Certified, a massage therapist must demonstrate mastery of core skills and knowledge, pass an exam, uphold the organizations Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics and take part in continuing education.
  • Eighty-nine percent (89%) of massage therapists strongly or somewhat agree there should be minimum education standards for massage therapists.
  • Massage therapists have an average of 688 hours of initial training.
  • The majority of massage therapists (91%) have taken continuing education classes.
  • The average number of hours spent in continuing education is 22 per year.
  • The most popular choices for continuing education are training for new modalities/techniques, advanced training for specific modalities, and massage for specific populations (i.e. pregnant women, geriatric, and athletes).

State Regulation Of The Massage Profession Rapidly Growing

  • Currently, 38 states and the District of Columbia regulate massage therapists.
  • In the states that regulate massage therapy, massage therapists must meet the legal requirements to practice which may include minimum hours of initial training and passing an exam.
  • In states that do not regulate massage therapists, this task may fall to local municipalities.

Who Gets Massage, Where And Why?

  • According to the 2007 AMTA  Consumer Survey, almost a quarter of all adult Americans (24 percent) had a massage at least once in the last 12 months and 34 percent of adult Americans received a massage in the last five years.
  • Forty-three percent of women and 25 percent of men have had a massage in the last five years.
  • Baby boomers have more massages with respondents aged 45 to 64 having an average of seven massage during the past 12 months compared to those aged 18 to 44 who had an average of five.

While the use of massage is growing, the reasons people are turning to massage therapy are also expanding. More and more people recognize it as an important element in their overall health and wellness.

  • Almost one-third of adult Americans say they’ve used massage therapy at least one time for pain relief.
  • Of the people who had at least one massage in the last five years, 30 percent report they did so for health conditions such as pain management, injury rehabilitation, migraine control, or overall wellness.
  • Eight-seven percent agree that massage can be effective in reducing pain.
  • Eighty-five percent agree that massage can be beneficial to health and wellness.

Massage And Healthcare

Healthcare providers are increasingly promoting the benefits of massage to their patients.

  • Almost one in five adult Americans (19 percent) report discussing massage therapy with their doctors or healthcare providers.
  • Of those 19 percent, more than half (58 percent) said their doctor strongly recommended or encouraged it.
  • More than half of massage therapists (63%) receive referrals from healthcare professionals.

Massage therapy usage in hospitals is also on the rise.

  • The number of hospitals offering massage therapy has increased by 30 percent in two years (from 2004 to 2006).
  • Of the hospitals that have massage therapy programs, 71 percent indicate they offer massage for patient stress management and comfort while more than two-thirds (67 percent) utilize massage for pain management.
  • Sixty-seven percent of hospitals with massage therapy programs offer massage to their staff for stress management.

Massage therapists and consumers are in favor of integration of massage into healthcare.

  • Over half of adult Americans (59 percent) would like to see their insurance cover massage therapy.
  • Ninety-five percent of massage therapists agree massage therapy should be integrated into healthcare.

Massage Therapy Research

The therapeutic benefits of massage continue to be researched and studied. Recent research has shown the effectiveness of massage for the following conditions:

  • Massage therapy for cancer-related fatigue.
  • Massage for chronic low back pain.
  • Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • Massage after surgery to help with post-operative pain.
  • Research has also shown massage to be effective in:
  • Boosting the body’s immune system functioning.
  • Decreasing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Reducing anxiety and lowering blood pressure in stroke patients.
  • Reducing headache frequency.
  • Easing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Decreasing pain and anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients.

Source: AMTA 2008 Fact Sheet