Massage therapists can enjoy a career with flexible hours and a focus on helping people to feel better. Before you pursue this career, check with your state for licensing or certification requirements; these can vary significantly from state to state. Explore training programs offered by schools that are accredited by the Commission On Massage Therapy Accreditation. COMTA is recognized across the United States and by the federal government.
When researching schools, investigate their accreditation. Massage therapy schools pursue accreditation on a voluntary basis. Schools that opt for accreditation provide proof that their curricula and facilities meet evaluation standards set and reviewed by industry experts. Students who successfully complete training programs demonstrate the same standards to employers -- who, in turn, can prove to clients that they're working with well-qualified therapists.
Associate Degree Programs
Some colleges offer associate degree programs in massage therapy. This option allows a student to take general courses, including human relations, psychology, communications and ethics, to complement hands-on massage therapy lab classes. Degree programs include human anatomy and ethics courses to support standards of professionalism required in the workplace. When investigating a college, make sure classes directly prepare students to meet applicable state licensing or certification requirements.
Massage therapy schools provide comprehensive training that is often comparable to associate degree programs. For example, the Ann Arbor Institute of Massage Therapy offers coursework in therapy techniques, as well as in professional ethics, medical terminology and pathology. AAIMT is also accredited by COMTA and meets Washington, Ohio and Michigan licensing requirements -- which means graduating students are qualified to take state licensing exams in those states. The main difference between AAIMT's program and an associate degree program is that students are awarded diplomas rather than degrees upon graduation.
Whether to opt for a degree or a diploma depends on your long-term goals. With an associate degree, credits directly pave the way to bachelor's degree programs. Diploma credits typically aren't as transferable. In either case, learning options might include both online and in-class coursework. Although online coursework is convenient, especially if you are already employed, hands-on in-class work is essential to building, proving and fine-tuning your hands-on massage techniques.
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