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Best Careers 2011: Massage Therapist

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Massage therapists may be good with their hands, but most also have a knack for business. You’re likely to work for yourself, and your success depends largely on how many clients you bring in, so you’ll need to market yourself well and develop a rapport with repeat customers. Many massage therapists work part time in several locations, including spas, hospitals, cruise ships, and sports centers.

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Massage therapy uses touch to treat injuries, sooth tired or overworked muscles, reduce stress, and promote general health. Treatment comes in many varieties, including Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, reflexology, and sports massage, and most therapists specialize in one or more. In most states, massage therapists need a license to practice.

The outlook:

As massage therapy becomes more popular, employment is expected to grow faster than average—19 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the Labor Department. Although this industry certainly hasn’t been spared the wrath of the recession, more spas and massage clinic franchises are popping up to meet increased demand for massage services, creating new openings for therapists. Massage therapists held about 122,400 jobs in 2008, and more than half were self-employed. Many more practice massage therapy as a secondary source of income.

Of those who are self-employed, most own their own businesses or work as independent contractors. Others find employment in personal care services establishments, the offices of physicians and chiropractors, fitness and recreational sports centers, and hotels. Employment is concentrated in metropolitan areas, as well as resort and destination locales.

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