Attending massage school and earning your license to practice are two steps that serve as the foundation of a career in massage and bodywork. Once you complete your education and pass any necessary exams in order to get credentialed, you can get started in a daily practice.

For some people, this means going to work in an office with several massage therapists, bodyworkers and other types of complementary health-care providers. Another common career path for graduates of massage and bodywork schools is to go work for a spa. Still others may choose to strike out on their own right away, renting a practice space and working as independent massage therapists and bodyworkers.

No matter which path you chose following massage school, there may come a point when you decide to steer your bodywork career in a new or different direction. Getting out and practicing your hands-on skills in the real world for awhile is a great way to hone in on what type of work you’d like to do in the next chapter of your bodywork career.

Once you begin to get an idea of how you’d like to alter or enhance your daily practice, you can use your continuing education classes to move in that direction. For most massage therapists and bodyworkers, continuing education is required in order to renew one’s license to practice.

In this case, make sure you know what your state or local massage board requires, in terms of continuing education topics and providers, to ensure you earn credits toward maintaining your credential while at the same time focusing on career improvement.

One path that is growing increasingly popular among massage therapists and bodyworkers is hospital- or medical-based massage. It seems more doctors are opening their minds to the benefits healthy touch can bring to their patients, so this may correspond with the rise in popularity of this career path.

One main reason more hospitals and doctors’ offices may be employing or referring to massage therapists is bodywork is now fairly well known for its capacity to reduce stress and pain, both physical and emotional.

If you’d like to enter the realm of hospital or medical massage, then start looking into continuing education classes that cover these topics. Certain courses may be fairly general, covering touch practices for all types of common illnesses and injuries. Other classes might focus on protocol within hospitals and doctors’ offices.

There also are continuing education courses for massage therapists looking to work with specific types of patients, such as those suffering from cancer.

Your choices in continuing education most likely will depend on what direction you’d like to take your massage career, in addition to what your state or local massage board requires.

By taking a continuing education course to explore a new angle on massage, you will get a chance to see if this really is a path you want to pursue. It’s a wonderful way to sample the opportunities out there for massage therapists and bodyworkers.

—Brandi Schlossberg