It has been said, in many situations throughout life, that a little forethought goes a long way. This is certainly true in the realm of continuing education for massage therapists and bodyworkers. Taking the time to figure out exactly what kind of continuing education you need, who offers the highest quality classes and the specific method in which you wish to take your course can lead to a very satisfying and rewarding decision.

For starters, if you live in a state or region where massage therapy and bodywork are regulated, then there’s a good chance you will be required to earn a certain number of continuing education hours before you can renew your massage license.

It’s up to you to figure out the details of continuing education as they relate to your specific state or region. For instance, find out how often you have to renew your massage credential and how many hours of continuing education are required by that date. In addition, be sure to ask if there are specific topics your continuing education classes must cover, such as ethics or hygiene, in order to count toward your license renewal.

One last item to look into is whether the board that regulates massage and bodywork in your area has developed a list of approved providers of continuing education. If this is the case, you’ll be required to take your continuing education classes from one of these providers if you want the credit to count toward maintaining your massage credential.

Once you have taken care of this initial phase of research into continuing education, you can move on to the next step: finding out who offers the highest quality classes. This may prove slightly more difficult, as you will need to do a bit of networking in order to locate the best classes. Try talking to your peers to find out what continuing education classes they have taken in the past, which ones they liked or didn’t like, and which teachers were their favorites.

Another way to look deeper into what a continuing education class may have to offer is to do an Internet search on the provider. Find out the teacher’s background and experience if possible.

A third point to consider as you sign up for continuing education classes is what method of attending class will work best for you and your lifestyle. This requires a bit of self-reflection more than anything else. You need to decide if you’re the type of student who can learn from home, by attending an online course, or if you need to be in an on-site environment in order to get the most out of your continuing education.

Of course, the answer to this question might vary depending on the subject matter. Such subjects as ethics or marketing, for instance, might lend themselves well to online learning, whereas picking up a whole new hands-on technique may be better left for a traditional classroom.

—Brandi Schlossberg