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How to become a massage therapist

As a massage therapist you are responsible for helping to support your client’s health and well being by using touch to manipulate the soft tissues of the body. Most people go to see a massage therap...

How to become a massage therapist

As a massage therapist you are responsible for helping to support your client’s health and well being by using touch to manipulate the soft tissues of the body.
Most people go to see a massage therapist to relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, reduce stress, increase relaxation and for general health and well-being purposes. 

What does a massage therapist do?

Using your hands, fingers, forearms and elbows as well as lotions and oils, massage tables, chairs and medical heat lamps, you can administer forms of massage to promote the wellbeing of your client.

Most massage therapists possess a vast range of experience skills, and some might choose to specialise in a particular area of massage such as:

  • Swedish massage is a full-body massage that is designed to help release muscle knots and promote relaxation using kneading, strokes, circular motions, vibration, tapping and passive joint movement techniques.
  • Deep-tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage, however, uses more pressure which is ideal if you have chronic muscle pains. 
  • Sports massage involves the manipulation of soft tissue to help sportsmen and women by correcting problems and imbalances caused by repetitive movements and strenuous physical activity.
  • Hot stone massage is suitable for people who are suffering from muscle pain and/or tensions or want to relax. Specifically, hot stone massages help to ease muscle tensions, improve circulation, reduce pain, promote relaxation and relieve stress. 
  • Aromatherapy massage is designed to include an emotional healing element to massage in order to boost mood, reduce stress anxiety and depression, relieve tension and improve symptoms of pain.
  • Trigger point massage is ideal for individuals with injuries or specific areas of chronic pain. Trigger points are areas of tightness in the muscle tissues which cause pain.
  • Reflexology promotes relaxation and restoration of natural energy levels. Focusing on the feet, hands and ears, reflexology uses gentle to firm pressure 
  • Shiatsu massage focuses on the entire body as well as particular areas that need special attention with an emphasis on promoting emotional and physical relaxation, relieving stress, headaches and muscle tension.
  • Thai massage is an active form of massage which helps to improve flexibility, circulation and energy levels. 
  • Prenatal massage is aimed at women during pregnancy which can help to reduce aches, stress and tension.

Why become a massage therapist?

  • Flexibility - If you’re self-employed, freelance or mobile, you’re in control of your business hours allowing you to work around your other commitments. 
  • Working environment - as well as flexible working hours, you also have the choice of where you work if you’re self-employed. For example, you may choose to work from home from a spare room, studio or garden room, alternatively you could rent a room at a beauty salon or clinic.
  • Rewarding - being a massage therapist is extremely rewarding as you help individuals have a better quality of life by alleviating muscle aches and pain, promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety. 
  • Meet different people - whether you’re self-employed and working from home or at a beauty salon, you’ll meet a wide range of people daily. 

How to become a massage therapist?

Whilst there are no set training requirements or degree qualifications needed to become a massage therapist, The Council for Soft Tissue Therapies (GCMT) which is the governing body for massage therapy and sets the standard for the profession, suggests you should complete a course which lasts approximately 6 months full-time or 12 months part-time to become a massage therapist. 

The most common ways of becoming a massage therapist are via:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship

College Course

If you opt to complete a college course you could complete a Level 3 Diploma in Massage or Complementary Therapies. 

You will usually need to meet the following entry criteria to commence a college course:

  • 4 or 5 GSCEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent

A Level 3 Diploma in Massage is designed to provide training for giving massage treatment for commercial purposes in accordance with legislation and establishment rules. Generally speaking, students will cover the following topics:

  • Full body massage applying a variety of techniques
  • The treatment environment and working area
  • Therapist appearance and behaviour
  • Client care and preparation
  • Client consultations
  • The history and philosophy of massage
  • Principles and practice of complementary therapies


If you opt to complete an apprenticeship, you should undertake an advanced apprenticeship in beauty therapy massage. 

You will usually need to meet the following entry criteria to commence an apprenticeship:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* or C), to equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship.

What personal qualities and skills do I need to become a massage therapist?

Do you have the personal qualities and skills it takes to be a massage therapist?

You will need to possess the following personal qualifies and skills to become a massage therapist:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Ability to build trust
  • Listening skills
  • Manual dexterity
  • Discretion
  • Patience
  • Tact
  • Empathy
  • Good level of physical fitness
  • Time management

How much do massage therapists earn?

One of the very first questions most people ask themselves when considering starting a new career is, ‘how much can I earn?’ 

Unfortunately, there is no blanket answer when it comes to the hair and beauty industry. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered such as seasonality, the impact of inflation on treatment prices, travel costs for mobile stylists and the size of the hair and beauty sector.

According to PayScale, massage therapists can earn anywhere between £8 - £47 an hour, with a bonus between £7 - £20k a year and commission between £0 - £450 a year, totalling annually £17k - £93k. 

To get a better understanding of how much massage therapists make in your area, we suggest that you take a look at local job advertisements for your qualification and experience level. Your college or private course tutors could also provide you with a more accurate estimation of your earning potential.

Insurance for Massage Therapists

As a qualified massage therapist or a student massage therapist, you will need insurance to practice your area of expertise. 

Unfortunately, accidents happen which is why it’s imperative that you are covered for every circumstance. Whether it’s an allergic reaction to your massage lotions or oils, you’ve accidentally made a patient's injury worse, or a client suffers from an accident whilst in your care or on your premises, you need to ensure you’re protected with public liability, product liability and treatment liability to do what you love every day. 

At Professional Beauty Direct, we offer comprehensive massage therapist insurance to keep your business safe from as little as £52.50 per year. 

Call our friendly and knowledgeable team for a quote today on 0345 605 8670 or use our online quote and buy system at www.professionalbeautydirect.co.uk.