The word massage comes from the Greek verb massa, meaning "to handle, touch, to work with the hands, to knead dough". A massage therapist is an individual trained to provide massage therapy to clients for medical benefits. There are more than 80 different types of massage therapies but the most common methods are: aromatherapy massage, shiatsu, reflexology, Thai massage, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and hot stone massage. A good massage therapist usually specializes in a number of different techniques. It is quite common to see self-employed therapists running their own businesses, but many of them work in different establishments, like spas, health clubs, healthcare centers, retail centers, resorts, and many others. Upon seeing a therapist, a client usually complains about soreness or pain in their body or for relaxation. The hands of massage therapists are often the most useful tool provided in the treatment; although some massage therapists may use other equipment, such as ultraviolet and infrared light treatments, water therapy, or steam and dry heat treatments. Therapists usually apply a lubricant to the client's body before doing the hand massage. While the patient is lying down, massages are applied to specific body areas through kneading, rubbing, rocking, compression, and stroking the flesh. The pain caused by injuries, stress, and surgeries are relieve by these techniques through stimulating circulation of blood and relaxing muscles. Education, Training and Certification To become a massage therapist, the requirements may vary from state to state but in most states, any person who wants to become a therapist is required to obtain a high school diploma or its equivalents before enrollment. Most schools that offer these programs have full-time and part-time programs. Spending a minimum of 500 hours in the program is expected by students during which they are taught anatomy, kinesiology, physiology, ethics, business, and management. Hands-on experience will also be provided in order to give the students a real feel for the job. A student is required to have a license or certificate to practice in most states. Students from these states must pass the certification exam before they can work. The two tests that are accepted nationwide are the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination. There are also specific certification exams in some states. Massage therapy professionals from states that do not require any certification can start practicing after graduating from an accredited program. Work Environment and Typical Work Schedule Massage therapists work in many different establishments, such as day spas, hospitals, chiropractor offices, physician offices, day spas, cruise ships, health centers, resorts, corporate offices, and in their own clinics. Some therapists also offer home services. Seventy-five percent of massage therapists approximately work less than 40 hours per week, as it is a physically straining job. Many will work evenings and weekends when people are most likely to get massages. A therapist has a lot of freedom in how much they want to work, but it ultimately depends on their own schedule. Factors that Affects a Massage Therapist Salary - Experience - A massage therapist business is built upon returning customers. To make clients return and refer others to them as well, excellent service must be provided. These individuals are more willing to pay a higher fee for a service they trust as they build a loyal client base. - Education - Generally, licensed or certified massage therapists make more money since clients are willing to pay more for a qualified massage therapist. Certain third party insurances may cover massage therapy, but only for services provided by massage therapists who are registered with the state. Therefore, these therapists can charge a higher premium. - Location - Also very important in determining a massage therapist salary is location since salaries differ from State to State. The highest paying state is Alaska since the supply of massage therapists in the area is low. - Employer - The place where a therapist chooses to work can also affect the salary. Therapists that work in hospitals are not tipped for the service whereas those who work at a resort or high-end spa will earn more generous tips. Healthcare ambulatory services, nursing care facilities, technical and trade schools, office of physicians, and specialty hospitals are the top paying employers in this occupation. Average Annual and Hourly Salary The average annual salary of a therapist salary is $39,920. This is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and dividing that value by the total number of employees. The lowest 10% of this Massage Therapist occupation makes less than $18,300 and the top 10% makes over $69,070. Their average hourly salary is $19.19. The bottom 10% makes $8.80 while the top 10% makes $33.21.