How To Make A Side Income As A Massage Therapist

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True story: I have an appointment scheduled to give a massage therapist my money on Monday. If you’re interested in getting in on the other side of this deal by earning money as a massage therapist, check out this post brought to you and contributed by Abby Locker.

Becoming a massage therapist looks like a pretty viable way to bring in some side income!

If you are looking for a way to make extra money on the side, it can be difficult to figure out what will pay well. One option is to become a massage therapist. The pay is good because you will be a highly-skilled professional. On average, the going rate is around $60.

If you decide to work for yourself as a freelance massage therapist, you can choose your own hours, visiting local offices and businesses with a portable chair. Portable massage chairs start at a mere $100 and only weigh about 9 lbs. While this will provide you with the basics, you can also choose deluxe versions that provide you with every feature you can imagine. At the most, these only weigh about 25 lbs.

Why Start A Massage Business?

Before delving into how to get started as a massage therapist, let’s briefly talk about why massage therapy pays well and why massage therapists are always in high demand in any economy.

The reason why the profession pays as well as it does it is because you are trained to understand everything you need to know about how to heal the human body through touch. You will get an extensive education on physiology when you enroll in a massage therapy school. You will be trained to work in a deliberate, clinical way to restore a person’s well-being after an injury or to help with a certain health problem. In short, you will learn exactly what needs to be done to heal or ameliorate a wide variety of physical problems.

The reason you will be in high demand is because you will provide clients with the following benefits:

  1. You will help clients achieve a state of deep physical relaxation with a professional massage because massage lowers high cortisol levels while increasing the level of endorphins.
  2. You will help clients get relief from pain with a professional massage because massage relaxes tense muscles while releasing nerve compression.
  3. You will help clients improve their flexibility with a professional massage because massage relieves tightness in muscles, ligaments, and tendons. When people sit at a desk for hours, and do this day after day, their muscular flexibility decreases, as well as their range of motion.
  4. You will help clients regain their energy, vitality, and mental clarity with a professional massage because you will improve their blood and lymph circulation. When circulation improves, cells are able to absorb fresh oxygen and eliminate waste products.
  5. You will help clients restore their relaxation response with a professional massage because you will decrease the pent up tension stored in their muscles, usually a result of stress, anxiety, and dealing with the numerous pressures of the working life.

Make sure that you outline all these benefits (and more) in your product literature, whether it is a flyer or a business website. Once people understand the enormous benefits of having someone come in at a scheduled time and relieve them of all these profound benefits, you will get so much business that you will have to turn gigs down. When marketing your business, also mention how massage therapy can potentially be covered by your health insurance.

How to Get Skilled Up

So, how do you start?

There are basically three steps: first, you go to massage therapy school; second, you get licensed; and third, you set up a business entity.

Let’s quickly go through these three steps.

  1. Massage therapy school. There is no shortage of massage therapy schools, and you can easily find one in your local area by doing a Google search. The cost ranges and scholarships are often available. Find something that will give you the expertise you desire and enroll.
  2. Licensing. After you graduate from massage therapy school, you will need to get state licensing. Usually, states require that you pass the MBLEx— the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam.
  3. Business entity. After you’ve got your education and become licensed, you are all set up to register a business. A few inquiries about business licensing will help you quickly go through the necessary steps to incorporate your business. It’s a good idea not to skip this step even if you are a freelancer as it will help you with insurance and taxation issues.

Massage Equipment and Supplies

Besides getting a massage chair, what else do you need in terms of equipment and supplies?

Here are some things that would be nice to have to enhance your professional image when you visit people in their homes or offices: Microfiber quilted blankets; headrests and footrests; white sheets; aromatherapy oils; massage oils, gels, and creams; fiber filled pillows; and body mist sprays.

A Flexible Business Model

While you might start out as a freelance massage therapist, you are always free to change your business model. You may decide, for example, that you want to focus more on doing the massage itself rather than the business aspect of generating your own leads and finding your own clients. Conversely, you might want to set up your own clinic.

So, besides freelancing, here are 3 other career options:

  1. Work on a cruise ship or at a spa, gym, or clinic.
  2. Create your own clinic, getting a business loan and hiring other massage therapists to work for you.
  3. Become a massage therapy teacher.

A Great Career Choice

Regardless of how you plan to grow your business, you are in a high-growth occupation. According to an article in Chron about massage therapy careers, career growth between 2010 and 2020 is expected to be 20%, while projected growth for all occupations sits at only fourteen percent.


1 thought on “How To Make A Side Income As A Massage Therapist

  1. MP

    If I may, as a busy massage therapist, I can honestly tell you that the pay is not as glamorous as it sounds. More often that not you’ll be working for a studio, spa or chiropractor (side note, with chiros sometimes they will work you a lot harder with out breaks as well as chain spas). Expect pay between $15 to $40 each 60 min session. If you are a sole proprietor, with over head and establishing your business, you are still looking at about $40/hr. Going solo is very challenging. Because it takes A LOT of work to market and find the clientele. You also have to consider where you live. If you live in a city that has a demand for massage, then you might end up in a saturated market. School can cost, on average between $7500 to $30,000. I would highly recommend looking at what kind of credentials you want and possible taking the National exam to broaden where you can work if you plan on moving around. You will be providing your own supplies and I would absolutely never recommend white sheets. Those white sheets will stay stained free for a month or less. Always get something neutral, darker or printed. Invest in a good blanket! With massage equipment (chair and tables etc.) you get what you pay for. Invest in a SOLID table. Don’t forget good pillows and soft lighting. Also a good idea to invest in a table warmer. Keep your client as comfortable as possible no matter if you’re doing if you are doing spa or medical massage. On the subject of medical massage. I would recommend being trained in it even if you do spa massage because it will allow you to incorporate those techniques to help your clients. With medical massage that also allows you to do insurance work. The tricky thing with insurance work is a lot of the time you won’t be paid by the insurance company, on average 6-8 weeks. So you do have to plan your finances around that. And I don’t want to discourage anyone from the massage world because it is the best job! BUT, the reality of making $60 in hour is “usually” not the case. It seems to be an average of $15,000 to $30,000 per year salary. To make more you’ll be working more. If you can do 5 to 6 massages 5 to 6 days a week, you will be doing fine. That is a lot of wear and tear on your body. Self care is key! I cannot express that enough. Defiantly do your research when looking at schools. There is some very distinct differences in curriculum. And the more you know, the better therapist you’ll be. It is a very rewarding career. It’s so amazing the difference you can make. Just know what you’re getting into before you do it. Shadow someone, talk to therapists that work in different fields of massage before picking a school. Love my career and would never go back to doing something else!


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