When it comes to continuing education, quality counts. If you have been in the field of massage therapy and bodywork for even a few years, you likely know the quality of continuing education classes can vary almost as much as widely as the topics and techniques these courses aim to teach.

This is one reason it is so important to take your time as you research which continuing education class is right for you. You want to make sure your time and money will be invested wisely, and that you will walk away with something to show for your investment.

Fortunately, certain professional organizations, as well as massage governing boards in various regions, often publish a list of “approved providers” of continuing education. In other words, these are the teachers and organizations that offer courses that will count toward renewing one’s credential to practice or to be a member of these professional entities.

In general, it is typically safe to assume these providers were approved because they offer high-quality classes for massage therapists and bodyworkers; however, it is always wise to do a little checking of your own before signing up for a continuing education class.

Perhaps the most important area to consider is what you hope to get out of the class. If you are hoping to learn a technique that will bring a different segment of the population into your session room, and you sign up for an ethics class, you are not going to be satisfied with the result.

This is, of course, an extreme example, but the point is even the best teacher and top-notch material won’t make a difference if the topic is not one that appeals to you. That said, there are certain times when massage therapists and bodyworkers are required to complete continuing education classes in specific topics, and ethics may be one of them.

However, if you have a bit of freedom when it comes to selecting the kind of continuing education you want to receive, then take the time to figure out what topic is right for you and your practice at this point in time.

Once you have that pinned down, you can move on to researching the teachers and organizations that offer continuing educations classes that cover this topic. Doing an online search of various keyword phrases may be a great place to start.

For example, type the teacher’s name into an online search engine and see if you can get details on his or her background and experience in massage therapy and bodywork, and specifically in the topic of the class.

If you are hoping to learn how to begin working with cancer patients in medical settings, it would be ideal to have an instructor who has done just that. If you would like to begin drawing more high-level athletes to your practice, then learning from a teacher who has had a thriving sports-massage business would be highly helpful.

By investing the time and forethought, you should be able to separate the high-quality classes from the low-level ones and walk away from your continuing education experiences with a few more tools in your bag.

–Brandi Schlossberg