Options Abound in Massage Education, Brandi Schlossberg, MASSAGE Magazine   Whether you are considering a career in massage therapy or simply wish to earn continuing education units to maintain your current massage credential, there are all sorts of options when it comes to enrolling in a massage program.
   Unlike years past, when school schedules lacked flexibility, today’s massage education may frequently be tailored to the individual needs of the student. Thanks to the advent of the Internet and the huge advances made in online learning in recent years, it is entirely possible to attend much of massage school online.
   This benefit spills over into continuing education as well, allowing bodyworkers to earn credits in continuing education from the comfort of their own home or office. The perks of enrolling in online massage classes are many, whether the course is part of one’s primary massage education or a class offered as continuing education.
   First of all, Internet classes save students the time, money and hassle it may take to travel to an actual bricks-and-mortar building to attend class. For those current and prospective massage therapists who live in far-away, rural towns, this can be an especially pleasing perk of online education.
   The ubiquitous nature of the Internet also gives massage students and current practitioners many more options when it comes to the type of education one wishes to receive. Online learning makes it possible to take class from teachers on the other side of the country or even the other side of the globe.
   Flexibility in scheduling is perhaps the biggest benefit of online massage classes, as distance education often allows students to log on and “attend” class as it suits their schedules. With today’s technology, one can download lectures, view class notes online, post on peer forums and much more—all at a time convenient to the individual student.
   Although online classes are one of the latest trends in bodywork education—and all forms of education, for that matter—there is still something to be said for enrolling in courses that take place in-person, especially when it comes to hands-on technique.
   “The essence of massage can’t be taught by a book or DVD,” Sean Riehl, president of Real Bodywork, which produces educational massage videos, told MASSAGE Magazine. “Only hands-on instruction can give a student the sense of rhythm, speed and presence that they will need in their practice. That is why it is a good thing that basic licensing in most states requires in-class hours.”
   Check with your state board of massage or other relevant licensing body to find out exactly how many hours of massage education you need in order to practice in your state and how many of these must be in-class, versus online, hours. This governing body should also be able to inform current massage therapists how many credits of continuing education they need in order to keep their credentials current.
   Once you are aware of the specific requirements for massage education in your particular city and state, you can then go about enrolling in the massage classes that best suit your learning style, as well as your lifestyle.