Most massage therapists would like to increase income, give their bodies a break, find new venues for work, stimulate their minds and become more well-rounded massage practitioners. A way to achieve all of this is by earning a credential that can be used in combination with massage.
From teaching yoga classes and offering skin care services to providing movement education or athletic training, there is an array of credentials that line up well with massage. By earning a second certification, massage therapists will be able to expand their practices and target more specific clients.
“One of the main reasons for getting any other credential is it gives you the opportunity to have another service or services to perform, which can help you earn more income and make you more employable,” said Jim Cox, CEO of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools. “I think it’s a worthy goal to always have continuing education, and having multiple licenses can only enhance your career.”
Read on for a list of credentials that combine well with massage; details such as the average amount of education you will need to earn the credential, how your new skill could work in tandem with massage, and the doors that can open for massage therapists who hold more than one type of certification; and advice from spokespeople at leading organizations offering education and credentials.
Hours of education required: bachelor’s or master’s degree in athletic training from a school that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education
Athletic trainers work with other health-care professionals in venues that range from doctors’ offices and hospitals to sports-medicine clinics and athletic facilities. In order to sit for the certification exam to become licensed to practice as an athletic trainer, one must hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in athletic training from a school that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). To search for accredited programs by state, visit caate.net. “Athletic trainers differ from personal trainers, who focus solely on fitness and conditioning and have very different academic and certification requirements,” said Kathy I. Dieringer, EdD, ATC, LAT, a member of the board of directors for National Athletic Trainers Association. “A credentialed athletic trainer is able to provide comprehensive care to an injured patient that includes care, diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation, so adding athletic training services creates a more comprehensive health-care facility.”
National Athletic Trainers Association
Hours of education required: 200
Exposure to a pool of massage-loving clients can be one of the perks that comes with certification as both a massage therapist and yoga teacher—and this tends to work the other way, too.
“Quite frankly, those who practice yoga and those who like to get massages tend to be the same sort of person,” said Beth Shaw, president of YogaFit. “By offering yoga classes to your massage clients, you are expanding your business with people who already know and trust you.”
The massage therapist who earns a credential to become a yoga instructor may find more doors opening to work in venues such as gyms, yoga studios and wellness clinics, where both credentials could be put to use.
“Yoga and massage are closely related,” Shaw said. “When you perform yoga frequently, it can lead to both physical and mental insights—a massage therapist who is also a yoga instructor can help [her] clients’ mind, body and spirit.”
Hours of education required: 1,500
Much like massage, the number of hours required to earn a credential as a cosmetologist, and the services that fall beneath the umbrella of that credential, tend to vary from state to state. According to Jim Cox, CEO of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS), 1,500 hours of education is the average across the country, and cosmetologists primarily focus on hair, as well as skin and nails.
“Someone with dual licensure in massage and cosmetology would, in many cases, be more desirable as an employee,” he said. “I would label myself as a beauty and wellness professional and, in essence, be a one-stop shop.”
Cox said he could see a cosmetology credential coming in especially handy in rural areas or more unusual work venues, such as cruise ships. For massage therapists who are considering a second credential in cosmetology, the AACS Beauty Changes Lives Foundation (beautychangeslives.org) awards annual scholarships to attend cosmetology school and also nail-tech training.
American Association of Cosmetology Schools
Aesthetician / Esthetician
Hours of education required: 600 to 700
From full-service salons and day spas to resorts and dermatology offices, the massage therapist who also holds a credential as an aesthetician could see an increase in clients, work opportunities and potential venues for practice.
According to Amanda Strunk Miller, associate publisher of DERMASCOPE Magazine, the official publication of the Aesthetics International Association, becoming a licensed aesthetician can enhance a massage therapist’s skills and provide a broader perspective on wellness.
“The skin is the largest organ of the body and provides multiple vital body functions,” she said. “Having a credential in massage and aesthetics offers a greater understanding not only of the spa industry as a whole, but also of the needs of the client.”
Strunk Miller said the hours of education required to become an aesthetician vary from state to state, but the average is 600 to 700.
Aesthetics International Association
Hours of education required: 450
Whether you choose to work as both a massage therapist and a Pilates teacher in a large studio or gym, or open a Pilates-massage studio of your own, earning a credential to teach Pilates could expand your scope of practice as a health care professional.
“The focus on the body and the way the body can be affected through manual manipulation can be further appreciated by experiencing how the body reacts to the intelligence of the Pilates method,” said Ray Infante, L.M.T., certification specialist for the Pilates Method Alliance. “There is a clear difference between touch therapy and Pilates, but the commonalities allow for complementary application of nurturing, therapeutic development and the increase of proprioceptivity—the overlap offers a consciousness of the body that is unique to the combination.”
Pilates Method Alliance
Hours of education required: 800
Massage therapists work to enhance each client’s health through hands-on sessions, and Feldenkrais practitioners use movement education to achieve similar goals— teaching people to move with less effort and more awareness, learn new movement habits, and improve the body’s ability to function in daily life.
“The Feldenkrais practitioner does do hands-on work with students, as well as teaching classes with guided movement,” said Paula Batson, Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner. “The Feldenkrais Method offers a learning experience that is different from massage, and being able to offer both will expand the capabilities of anyone’s business.”
Feldenkrais Guild of North America
Hours of education required: 1,600
One goal of massage therapy is to help clients achieve lasting relief from pain. By combining a massage credential with certification to teach the Alexander Technique, practitioners may be able to take clients even further along the journey toward pain-free living.
“Through a series of lessons, teachers of the Alexander Technique teach people of all ages how to recognize and unlearn faulty postural habits,” said Jill Geiger, information manager for the American Society for the Alexander Technique. “This enables improved mobility, posture, performance and alertness, along with relief from chronic stiffness, tension and pain.”
American Society for the Alexander Technique
Hours of education required: 24
Becoming a Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner (CKTP) can pave the way for a massage therapist to bring in more clients and make more money. Certification can also increase the odds of finding employment in places such as chiropractic, sports-medicine and rehabilitation clinics.
“Being certified provides the therapist with the ability to incorporate additional services into treatments, and its visible nature often creates conversations and referrals for your practice,” said Nicky Archer, co-director of Kinesio Taping Association International. “Taping has high client satisfaction, giving them the sense the therapist’s hands are still on them after they leave the office, thereby extending the effectiveness of the treatment.”
Archer said the CKTP credential may also make it easier for massage therapists to receive reimbursement from insurance companies.
Kinesio Taping Association International
Grow Your Practice — Take a New Path
As you consider expanding your skill set by earning a credential in another field, take into account not only the amount of time you will need to earn the new certification, but also the direction you would like to go in your career.
The credential you choose to pursue can place you on a path toward working with more specialized clientele and finding employment in venues that might have been out of reach with a massage license alone.
Brandi Schlossberg is an avid bodywork client and full-time journalist based in Reno, Nevada. She has written many articles for MASSAGE Magazine and massagemag.com, including “Massage Eases Recovery for Domestic Violence Survivors.”