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The Beginner's Guide: How to Become a Massage Therapist in Georgia

Massage therapy is much more than just alleviating back, neck, or limb stress - it's also a highly developed tool used in a range of industries, including healthcare, on cruise ships, and in spas. Massage therapy itself is a growing industry. Not only are massage therapists increasing in ranks, but pay is on the rise as well. The industry has come a long way, with countless new techniques used by today's licensed massage therapists to make people feel better and improve their quality of life.

When you become a massage therapist, the best perk is perhaps the flexibility in the job. You choose where you go, what you do, and how you do it. The discipline encompasses the best of working with people from all walks of life as well as helping them relieve tension and heal injuries and feel better and work and move with greater ease. When you become a massage therapist, you promote relaxation, health, injury rehabilitation, as well as encourage clients to deal with stress and chronic pain reduction or management more effectively.

Would you like to become a massage therapist? If so, the steps below will help you embark on the path to working as a licensed massage therapist in the state of Georgia.

State Requirements for a Licensed Massage Therapist

Getting started. The first, most important element is you. As a massage therapist, you should be personable, easy to work with, and comfortable touching someone in an ethical way. Delving into a new career and honing those skills involves a considerable time commitment on your part. Before enrolling anywhere, ask yourself if you:

  • Have enough time to complete coursework?
  • Can study and prepare for the next day?
  • Can attend regular classes throughout the week?
  • Can complete at least 500 hours of training?
  • Need financing?

Some massage therapy programs run from Monday through Friday, lasting over four hours (or approximately 21 hours a week) at the bare minimum. Other schools can have more strenuous schedules placed on the student who wants to become a massage therapist. If time is limited, some massage schools offer classes in the late afternoon or evening, or even a combination thereof if your schedule better permits a less-than-structured course calendar.

Researching potential schools is also vital. While you will cover many of the same basics, remember that not all schools are created equal. Get to know the teachers. Their teaching style may or may not jive with the way you learn. Tour the campus. Is this somewhere you can picture yourself learning and growing?

Education/Training. The massage school that you choose should boast educational curriculum that is approved by the Georgia Board of Massage Therapy (www.sos.ga.gov/plb/massage). At the school of your choice, you will be required to complete an approved program, which should be 500 hours or longer, and will cover all standard Western massage techniques. It is recommended that you do not purchase equipment until you begin your education. Purchasing a massage table prior to learning about table height can impair your ability to apply sufficient pressure during a massage session.

Throughout the duration of the massage therapy program, you will learn fundamental skills, such as Swedish, deep tissue, orthopedic, cross fiber, and neuromuscular massage therapy. You should also expect to become well versed in carrying out a physical assessment of your clients to identify key areas of the body that need to be addressed in the massage session.

In addition to learning a variety of techniques while at the school, you may also decide which approach interests you the most and choose to specialize in one area after you begin your career.

Licensing requirements. Upon completion of a massage therapy program, you will need to take and pass one of three exams approved by the Georgia Board of Massage Therapy.

  • The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (www.fsmtb.com) offers the Massage Board Licensing Exam (MBLEx). This entry-level exam is used to ensure that the practice of massage therapy is carried out in a safe, effective manner in a public setting.
  • The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (www.ncbtmb.org) offers two certification exams. Both exams are used to establish and uphold a national standard for excellence.

Your credentials will be evaluated by the Georgia Board of Massage Therapy. Qualifying applicants will become licensed and therefore eligible to provide therapeutic massage in the state. In order to remain up-to-date with changes in the industry, 24 hours of continuing education are required during each biennial renewal period.

Affiliations. Once you are a licensed massage therapist, you must be willing to uphold strong ethical values. Affiliating with professional massage therapy organizations will aid in this endeavor and add to your credibility.

Affiliating is also a great way to network with other massage therapists in your area or state to discover the newest techniques and technologies and learn about new positions for a licensed massage therapist.

Getting a job. Have your newly acquired licensing number handy. You are required to write it out on all of your business information. You should also check in your municipality for business licensing requirements. If you affiliated with certain massage therapy organizations, you can receive pointers to assist you as you look for your first job as a licensed massage therapist.

Many employers are in need of well-qualified, licensed massage therapists to work in a variety of exciting positions. These positions include, but are certainly not limited to, spas/medi-spas and medical offices, such as ob/gyn, chiropractic medicine, and orthopedics. Hospitals are also in need of the services of a skilled massage practitioner for cancer patients, rehabilitation, and pain management. In other words, the options are limitless when you become a massage therapist.

Wherever you go with your newfound skills as a licensed massage therapist, you can help invigorate tired limbs and encourage better movement, improve circulation, alleviate stress, and bring smiles to countless clients throughout the day.