You have good reasons to get excited about enrolling in your next continuing education class. These courses can serve as the perfect jump-off points for steering your career as a massage therapist or bodyworker in any given direction you desire. Next time you are considering a continuing education course, do some homework ahead of time and get the most “bang for your buck.”

Before you can start delving into the fun part of picking continuing education classes, such as the new skills you would like to learn, you may first need to deal with the paperwork part of the equation. This pertains to those massage therapists and bodyworkers who are required to earn a certain number of continuing education credits in order to maintain their credentials, their membership in a professional organization or their position in a spa, franchise or other place of employment.

If you fall into the category of massage therapists and bodyworkers who are required by law or by binding rules and regulations to earn a continuing education credits, then this paperwork part applies to you. You will need to know exactly how many credits of continuing education you need to earn, as well as whether there is a specific deadline for earning them. You should also find out if there is a list of approved continuing education providers or required topics.

Once you have these more mundane, but certainly necessary, details out of the way, then you can get on to the creative side of selecting continuing education classes. This part of the process has much more to do with you as a person and practitioner—your practice, your clients, your goals, your strengths and your weaknesses.

Begin by figuring out what new skill you would like to bring on board via continuing education classes. Some examples of the kinds of skills massage therapists and bodyworkers may be looking to learn include a new modalities to add to the practice menu; a more advanced level of a current main modality; a highly specific niche skill set, such as massage for sciatica; a refresher on proper body mechanics; or nontouch knowledge, such as accounting, ethics, management, marketing and so on.

You should be able to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of your practice fairly easily, for most massage therapists and bodyworkers are quite mindful of such aspects. However, if you find you are having trouble deciding where you want to go with your continuing education, then consider keeping a practice journal or diary for one month, then look over your notes to get a better idea.

Once you know what type of topic you want to focus on in your continuing education hours, you are almost to the finish line in terms of selecting your class. At this point, you need to determine exactly how you want to take the class: online, in person at a class near your home or office, or in person at a destination locale.

Making this decision will depend on your budget of both time and money. Obviously, an online course is going to involve a more minimal investment of both these precious resources.

Remember, as long as you take the time to think through each step of the selection process, when it comes to continuing education, there is no reason you shouldn’t get the most for your money.

–Brandi Schlossberg