Time to be honest. Things I wish I could have known when I was younger and things I could have foreseen. Time to chat with my 20 year old self and all other 20 year olds who are thinking of starting a career in Massage. My number one advice, don’t. It’s simple really. IF you really want to spend the rest of your adult life trying to find to ways to get out of a dead end profession. Before we all jump to asking me why the hell am I still doing it let me explain the reasons why you shouldn’t before I explain why I am. Can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.
Top Reasons to NOT become a Massage Therapist
1.Bodies, bodies everywhere
The first response you will get from everyone you know is : “If you need a guinea pig, sign me up!”. Classic. Everyone wants to be given sh!t for free. This is an excellent way for you to start practicing. I didn’t mind giving away my services while I was in school and learning how to massage. I don’t actually think people get enough hands on training with massage while in school. The problem here is people don’t give honest feedback based on what you’re supposed to be doing. They only care that you make them feel good and it’s not costing them a penny but for you it’s more then that. It’s a learning opportunity to engage the sense of touch and hone in on your skills. But that takes time. Years if I’m being honest.
2. Cost of start up
The going rate for massage school is roughly $15-$30 grand. Depending on where you go and obviously does not include the cost of books. No to mention some schools even run 3300 hour programs! What on gods green earth do you need to learn in 3 years as a massage therapist! Save your money and get a real degree! (more on that later). My school, some 13 years ago, cost me $6 grand. It was a one year program offered through Mount Royal College in Calgary, Alberta (back when it was still a college). It took me 3 years to complete it as I was working two jobs and trying to pay rent ( I refused to get a loan). Anyways, once you’re out of school there’s the cost of supplies. Tables, sheets, oils, accessories, license, insurance etc. Don’t forget, most RMT’s are self-employed. So if you’re operating out of a clinic, most of the time you supply everything. Hell, they might even make you bring in your own bloody table up 2 flights of stairs every single fucking time.
3. Daily operations
Once you’re out in the workforce, if you managed to rack up over $30 grand in debt from school, don’t worry! You can make up to $80/hour! Let’s break this down shall we? On average, in the city of Calgary, the going rate for an hour massage is $80/hour. Cost of sheets, oils, laundry, and admin costs will bring that number down to $70 per massage. Then you have to take into account 20% for taxes, so $56 per massage. Oh don’t forget GST! So there goes another $4 per massage. Ok, I know that $52 per massage still isn’t too shabby. Right? I mean you can work 40 hours a week easy. I can easily massage 40 clients a week! Right?!?!? Well, not unless you want to end your career in 4 years before you even pay off your debt. Don’t forget, if you’re working 40 hours a week, that does not equate to 40 clients a week! If you want to see 40 clients a week, you can easily double your work week hours. Your turnover per client adds an average of 15 minutes. So technically speaking, you can see one client for every 1.25 hours, so in an 8 hour day, you could see 5 clients if you’re taking a small break to pee or get some fresh air. So maybe 25 clients a week. That sounds more realistic. Oh did I mention insurance and licensing costs and not to mention upgrading?
4. Upgrading anyone?
Most of the time, keeping your skills sharp is an important part of being a professional. After all, people trust you! I’ve always been very fond of learning and growing as a professional, but there has never been any course that I truly wanted to take when it came to massage. Things like, reiki, cupping, energy work, crystals, and chanting have never interested me. Sure, maybe when I was 16 and smoking a lot of pot pretending I was a vegetarian hippy…but I grew up. I did. Believe it or not. I found out that I honestly don’t believe half the shit that is out there. There were zero courses that I felt compelled to take. The courses I did want to finally engage in, I could not take. Why? Because I am just a humble massage therapist. My decision to not go to post-secondary and dive into a career I knew nothing about has finally come to bite me in the ass! Courses that are offered to professionals with degrees are much more rewarding in my eyes then some fat burning facial massage…ugh
5. Humble Massage Therapist
Over the last decade I have noticed a trend with massage as a profession. Every clinic employs massage. You can’t turn a corner without seeing a new clinic offering this service. It’s everywhere and even places you wouldn’t expect it to be. So why is it that the profession isn’t seen as an equal in the eyes of the rehabilitation world? Every chiropractic clinic has massage. Every physiotherapy has massage. Heck, even naturopaths have massage! All major recreation complexes have it. It’s such an integral part of our culture that everyone is eager to go in for a massage. We are the primary therapists when it comes to soft tissues, which ironically, are over 90% of todays cases in clinics! Yet, not once, have I been seen as the initial care giver in any clinic I have worked at. Not once has my professional opinion been taken into account for an MVA claim, a WCB claim. No insurance company thinks my title as a massage therapist implies that I have the background to determine if my clients are in need of other rehab work, or further treatments. Massage Therapy is a dead end profession. Once you’re a massage therapist, that’s it. Unless you have a different background like an undergrad degree or even a masters. Then my dear, the world is your oyster! In today’s world, it’s all about who you know, not what you know. There are plenty of self-made millionaires and entrepreneurs who have made a name for themselves, as well as their bank accounts. But let me be first to burst your bubble, massage is not about WHO know, it’s all about WHAT you know!
I know. I sound bitter. Am I? Probably. I won’t deny it. I have spent 13 years in a profession that has caused me to question everything about my life choices. It’s always better to regret the things you did do, rather then the things you didn’t. Except for this one truth. Don’t jump into a career that won’t allow you to grow. I have looked at other venues, other paths and I’m still stuck on the same dirt road. I have no other educational background to fall on. I did not go to post-secondary because I did not want to waster 4 years of my life when I had no idea what I wanted to be. It’s seems like such a hard question to answer when you’re 20. Yet, so many have always known their path. I was not so lucky. Looking back now, I wish I had made better choices but I didn’t. So if I can tell anyone who’s ever thought of pursuing this path? Be realistic. It’s rare to last more then 6 years in this profession. Get your bachelors, get an undergrad. Do something more then devote your time and energy into this career. Trust me. I will continue to work as long as I can because, well, I have to. I will continue to care for my clients the same as I always have because that is who I am. I don’t shy away from a challenge and that is why I am still here. In my 30’s plucking along, trying to make things work for me and my family. Sometimes in life, you just do what you have to do. Being an immigrant has taught me the value of hard work. It’s not always about what you want, it’s about making the most of what you have. I will continue to grow and acquire more knowledge but this isn’t the end of the road for me. I know there’s more and that is why I continue to do what I do. I’m a stubborn ass and I wear that proudly on my sleeve.
meraki [may-rah-kee] (adjective) word used to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be