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Degree Overview: Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree in Massage Therapy

Majors Overview June 22, 2014

Students in Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree programs in Massage Therapy will be taught about the human body through classroom instruction and hands-on experience. In the states that require it, graduates can earn state licensure and national certification to practice massage therapy legally.

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree Programs in Massage Therapy

Students enrolled in the A.A.S. program in Massage Therapy are prepared for performing various kinds of massage through a combination of classroom lectures and hands-on training. The different massage styles include prenatal, Thai, hot-stone, Swedish, sports, and deep-tissue.

Massage therapy students are taught the skills they would need in providing therapeutic massage in different settings, including private practice, health clubs, and hospitals. They are also taught to develop strong interpersonal and communication skills. Two-year institutions, such as career-training schools and community colleges among others, mainly offer these programs.

Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.


Program coursework usually combines lab training, classroom lectures, and practical education. Apart from different kinds of massage techniques, business aspects such as medical ethics and massage law are also covered. Students are also expected to participate in externships held at a local business venue or on-campus. Coursework may commonly include the following:

•Massage practicum
•Techniques in massage therapy
•Anatomy and physiology
•Massage business principles

Job and Wage Outlook

Good job prospects are expected for workers in this industry with high job growth rates of 19% predicted for massage therapists during the period from 2008 to 2018 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). The optimistic projection is owed to the expectation that an increasing number of people will discover the benefits of massage therapy. In May 2010, massage therapists took home an average annual wage of $35,970.

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Graduates of associate degree programs can either seek an immediate entry into the workforce or pursue continued education by earning a bachelor’s degree in a specific massage area. Some bachelor’s degree programs offered by schools include Asian holistic health and Asian bodywork.

In 2009, there were regulations for massage therapists in 42 states with the laws varying by state. Common coursework in various AAS programs focuses on preparing graduates for certification or licensure. A national certification exam is offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

To qualify for the exam, interested candidates must have demonstrated comprehensive knowledge of core aptitudes in addition to completing a minimum of 500 hours of coursework. Certification has to be renewed once every four years through completion of 200 hours of work experience and 48 hours of continuing education.

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