In the last decade, much seems to have changed for those in the field of massage therapy and bodywork. It is a profession that, in the past, may have been looked upon as a frivolous indulgence or New Age activity. Today, however, massage therapy and bodywork, for the most part, are viewed as credible healing modalities, often placed under the umbrella of complementary health care.

There are many reasons that could explain this shift in thinking among the general population in the Western world. More and more, people seem to be seeking out the type of care that is noninvasive, preventive and capable of alleviating the “silent killer” known as stress.

Of course, this is all good news for practitioners of healthy touch, for it means new avenues have opened for sharing one’s skills with a wide range of clients. Before you can begin to venture down these new avenues, however, it is important you gain the proper education, and possibly certification, necessary for success in most specialized segments of the massage and bodywork world.

For example, one place where the benefits of massage and bodywork are beginning to crop up more frequently is the medical setting. These days, physicians seem to be more aware of the ways in which healing touch can help patients with myriad conditions, from depression to cancer.

If providing massage therapy or bodywork in a hospital, doctor’s office or other medical setting appeals to you, then you will know what to focus on when it comes time to earn continuing education credits.

Find classes that focus specifically on touch therapy in the medical setting. Perhaps you will want to start with a more generalized, foundational course and move into various specialized classes from there, such as massage for cancer patients, massage for pregnant women, post-surgical massage, scar massage and so on.

With a solid education behind you, it should be far easier to attain the position you want, either as a full-time job, a volunteer shift or as a supplement to your regular practice.

If you happen to live in one of the many regions where massage therapy and bodywork are regulated, there is a good chance the continuing education classes you choose to take may also count toward the continuing education credits you need to renew and maintain your massage license.

Find out from the governing board if there are any particular guidelines you need to follow when selecting your classes, such as subject matter or provider. That way, if it’s possible to “kill two birds with one stone”—gain the knowledge you need to move toward your goals and rack up continuing education credits—you will be able to do so.

Pursuing education in order to find massage work in the medical setting is only one example of the many paths you may choose to walk down with your hands-on healing skills. There are classes that can lead toward all kinds of bodywork careers, from sports massage to bodywork for the elderly, and so much in between.

–Brandi Schlossberg