The field of massage therapy has grown tremendously over the past few decades. With this rapid expansion, the bodywork business has become much more vast and varied than ever before. At the beginning of massage’s boom in popularity, touch therapy was largely viewed as a method for relaxation and stress relief. But as scientific research began to uncover many other benefits of massage, the business of touch began to branch out beyond simple relaxation and develop into numerous other markets, including many facets of health care.

Today, massage contains numerous specializations focusing on all types of clients and conditions, such as sports massage, pregnancy massage and even animal massage. So when mapping out your bodywork career, you may want to consider specializing in one market and then focusing the majority of your continuing education studies on finely tuning your niche skill. 

Thankfully, education technology experienced similar growth right alongside massage therapy’s rise, and today there are countless home study programs that allow you to develop a specialized area of practice without having to travel across the country or attend expensive workshops. The introduction of the Internet and advanced audio-visual technology has brought the leading massage teachers and classes right into our living rooms.

While specialization isn’t for everyone, it can be a highly productive method for focusing your career path, building your business and enhancing your passion. Once you graduate massage school, you can start the specialization process by finding a niche market you’re passionate about and then selecting home study courses that focus on that market.

If you like working with athletes, for instance, then you may want to find courses in sports massage. If you’re especially interested in working with infants and new mothers, you can look for courses in pregnancy massage or infant massage. If you’d like to work in the health-care field, you can take courses in orthopedic massage or neuromuscular therapy. By specializing, you’ll be working with the type of clients and conditions you are most interested in, which will help keep your work fresh and fun.

Another beneficial aspect of specialization is it allows you to focus you business efforts on one clearly defined area. If you’re running your own practice, this can be especially valuable because it allows you to focus your marketing efforts on a specific group of clients who have similar interests and needs. For instance, if you choose to work in the field of geriatric massage, all of your marketing efforts will target seniors. By doing this, it will be much easier to develop a strategic marketing plan, as you’ll be able to focus your advertising and public relations efforts in media and businesses catering specifically to the elderly. 

Specializing in one area will also guide your decisions when selecting continuing education. If you have no clearly defined focus for your career path, you might end up taking a bunch of different courses on various subjects and only getting the basics for each one without ever really mastering any. But if you specialize, you’ll have a much easier time selecting the courses that will most benefit your business and using that education to grow your practice.

Many home study programs include several levels of courses, from basic to advanced, so you can work your way up and build upon previous knowledge as you go. Some home study programs will even provide you with certification in a specific market, which adds even more to your credibility. 

The rise of high-quality home study programs has made it easier than ever to fine-tune your career focus through specialization. If you’re unsure of which continuing education classes to choose, sit down and figure out where your passion lies and then use home study to follow and develop that passion into a career that will benefit both you and your clients.

Chris Towery is the former associate editor of MASSAGE Magazine and is currently a full-time freelance journalist. He has written hundreds of articles for more than 20 different magazines, newspapers and custom publishers. Much of his recent writing has been for the complementary and alternative health-care industry. To contact Towery, e-mail