The Difficulty of Being a Male
Massage Therapists & The Therapist FAQ
pretty simple. Being a male massage therapist is
harder than being a female massage therapist. I
often explain to people that as a male
therapist they will have a harder time in some
places of employment.
Q: What does it take to become a
dictionary of Occupation Titles indicates that one can learn massage in less
than a month. That would equate to 100Ė125 hours of training. In California,
there are presently no licensing requirements, so in point of fact, one would be
able to practice with no training. However, cities require a massage certificate
to become licensed in that city, and employers require insurance, which
necessitates having a massage certificate from a licensed vocational school, and
massage suave clients, of course, are interested in credentials.
Q: It is surprising that massage is
not licensed in California. Are you anticipating that that will change?
do not anticipate that changing in the next few years. The point was driven home
when I served as a gubernatorial appointee to the physical therapy examining
committee. During that period this state began deregulating rather than
regulating, and it came to my attention that there has not been a profession
that has attained the status of licensure since 1982.
Q: I find that astonishing. Why is
First, licensure is not given unless there is a very clear and distinct danger
to the public that can be proven. Obviously massage poses little threat to the
public. It feels good.
Q: It is my understanding that many
states do require licensure.
Yes, that is true. Some states have required licensure for fifty years. The
massage may be medically oriented. Other states have structured licensure to
deal with the problem of prostitution, which incidentally it has not fully
stopped. In California, however, we took more of a "growth" model stemming out
of the Ď60s and the entire Esalen human potential movement rather than being
attached to the medical model or the prostitution problem.
Q: I understand that there is
presently a National Certification Exam. Can you say something about that?
National Certification Exam has been in place for six years. The present
requirements are adopted in about 50% of the states. There is still, however,
not reciprocity from state to state, which was in part a driving force in
creating the exam.
Q: Why was that a driving force?
There has been a hope within the bodywork community that we might be able to
create a national standard which would allow easy mobility. While this is a
lofty goal, we are still dealing with an emerging and developing profession.
Some backward states would still not even consider massage to be therapeutic.
When you consider the size of the US and the differences of the people in the
US, we can understand what a tall order of business this is.
Q: What is required to take the
National Certification Examination?
an entry level practitioner, the requirement is 500 hours, 100 hours of which
must be in anatomy and physiology. The balance of 400 hours would be in various
massage modalities. The key here is that no training is acceptable in increments
of less than 100 hours. This means: one 500 hours training, two 250 hours
trainings, five 100 hours trainings, or some combination of this model. In
addition the school must be a licensed vocational institution.
does that mean that weekend workshops do not count?
Yes. In effect that is what this means, and I have concerns regarding this
issue. People are not always in a position of having enough time to sign up for
100 hours or have the funds available. I have structured certificates in
increments of training that stand on their own within programs that develop a
body of knowledge. For example, sports-deep tissue certificates allow one to
take the four components over three months to fifteen months, paying for the
segments as they take them and learning a skill that can be easily incorporated
into their practice. This provides an immediate benefit of adding new clients to
your expanding business.
Q: Business. Hmm. Most people donít
refer to massage as a business.
Yes, thatís true, but they should. And in my opinion it is the reason most
practitioners limit their business. This must be viewed with the same business
suave as any other venture would utilize. It has always been my intention to
balance ethical, enriching livelihood with good business practice, allowing my
work and spiritual values to be lived through service. For example, one may
enter the field of massage with 100 hours of training and an investment of $999.
My view on this is to calculate how many massages would need to be given to
recoup oneís investment. For simplicity, letís say that would be about 20-25
massages if one is in private practice. Letís consider an estheticianís
training. Training is 600 hours at a cost of about $4000. In order to practice
one must be licensed, which involves another $40-50 in fees and time. Just
calculate how many facials at $45 would be required to cover those costs. Now,
letís factor in a massage therapist spending $400-500 for a table as opposed to
an esthetician spending $5000 on required equipment. I think it becomes very
apparent that the field of massage has some very distinct advantages.
Q: Could you speak more about the
advantages of entering the massage field at this time?
seems to me an incredible moment in this profession. We are poised with
complementary medicine becoming a part of everyday vocabulary. The National
Institute of Health section of Alternative Medicine is considering massage
studies in their 1998 budget, and Alta Bates Medical Center is sponsoring a
complementary medicine symposium for physicians in November, at which I will be
speaking. In addition, Alta Bates, in the fall, is sponsoring a free evening
series for the community, at which I will be presenting massage as a healing
Q: It would seem to me with these
and other developments that I have been seeing, that the field has come into its
Yes. The opportunities are becoming more accessible day by day