You may be thinking about taking a home study course, but are unsure where to begin. It can be daunting at first with so many options available online, but by asking yourself a few questions, you can narrow the field of possibilities to better suit your needs as a massage therapist.

The first stop on your list, whether you’re looking to expand the scope of your practice or just keep up with your continuing education requirements, is to check the websites of your national and state licensing bodies to make sure the courses you select are acceptable for continuing education credits. The websites of two major massage associations, the American Massage Therapy Association and Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, are also good sources to start your search.

The next step in your process should be deciding why you want to take a home study course. Is it solely to meet your required continuing education needs or to expand your practice? By examining the needs of your current clientele, you can tailor your education to meet those demands. Or, if you are looking to expand into a niche market and gain new clients, you can opt for one of many online courses. If the latter, what are your interests?

If you like working with athletes, you can take a course in sports massage or sports taping. Through sports massage, you can learn a blend of Swedish and Shiatsu massage, or techniques like lymphatic massage, trigger-point massage, compression massage and cross-fiber massage techniques, which all apply to athletic injuries.

If your interest lies in helping pregnant mothers, check out a course on pregnancy and prenatal massage. In those courses, you can learn acupressure and reflexology techniques, proper body positioning, anatomical, physiological and emotional progression, appropriate practices and types of massage oils to use during treatments.

Keep in mind home study courses are available in more than just massage techniques. There are a wide array of business management, ethics and marketing courses to grow your practice and hone your business skills.

–Jeremy Maready