Similar to many life experiences, making the most of continuing education in the field of massage and bodywork often is an exercise in trial and error. For example, a class may sound perfect, so you hurry up and enroll, only to find out later that the teacher or organization offering the course is not approved by the entity that regulates massage in your region.

On the other hand, you may sign up for a continuing education course because you know for certain it’s approved by the licensing board. However, by the end of the class, you may feel you’ve learned nothing new—or worse, wasted your precious time—but at least you racked up the credits for renewal.

With the huge array of continuing education options for massage therapists or bodyworkers, it’s not hard to believe people who make uninformed decisions could easily end up in one of the above scenarios, or some other form of dissatisfaction.

The key to making the most of continuing education is to do your homework before you enroll. Done correctly, taking classes for continuing education can be a rich experience all around.

The first step is to find out what your state or local licensing board requires, in terms of continuing education credits for renewing your massage license. Although the field of massage and bodywork is not regulated in every state or place around the world, the level of regulation is rising, so it pays to find out what the rules are in your region.

Once you know exactly how much continuing education you need to maintain your credential, as well as any other details, such as certain types of classes your state board requires or which teachers and organizations are approved to provide these courses, you’re ready for the next step—choosing your class.

This step is a bit more time consuming and also subjective, for it requires you to consider your own needs and to do a bit of research on teachers and classes. Take a good look at your practice and evaluate your own level of enthusiasm. Ask yourself what new skills would add to the daily work you do, what gaps need to be filled in your skill set and what would you love to do with your practice if only you knew how?

Such questions should lead you to the courses you want and need to take as you pursue continuing education. Once you’ve narrowed your options down to a few different classes, take some time to investigate the course providers, via the Internet and discussions with peers and colleagues.

Another important factor to consider will be when and where the class is offered. Depending on your own schedule and learning needs, you may choose to enroll in a course that happens completely online or perhaps you know you learn better in person. There’s also lots of destination continuing education that happens in the massage and bodywork industry, with courses taking place on cruises and in appealing locales around the globe.

—Brandi Schlossberg