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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Massage Therapy

Majors Overview February 19, 2014

Receive information about an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree program in massage therapy and its coursework, job and wage outlook, and licensure norms.

A.A. Programs in Massage Therapy

Students enrolled in a massage therapy associate’s degree program can expect to become adept at helping clients relax, managing pain and promoting overall wellbeing – they can achieve this through manipulation of the body’s tissues. Massage therapy associate’s degree programs are offered by many postsecondary institutions, including universities, community colleges and technical schools. Schools offer these degree programs in an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science format.

Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma and to submit the transcripts relating to the same. One or more foundational classes must be completed by students enrolled in some programs.

Coursework

Students are introduced by the coursework to various massage techniques, including trigger point, sports, deep tissue and Swedish. Some programs include other special techniques and complementary health practices, including myofascial release or lymph drainage. Hands-on training is imparted to students through clinical internships wherein supervised training is received by them in sanitation, setting appointments and treatment planning. Coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Infection control
•Nutrition
•Physiology and anatomy
•Ethical massage practice
•Massage principles

Job and Wage Outlook

Those who successfully complete the program can seek occupations in various work environments including franchises, health care facilities and spas; they could also opt to start their own businesses. A job growth rate of 23% has been projected for massage therapists during the decade from 2012 to 2022 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The optimistic prediction is based on the expectation that more massage therapist positions would be needed with the opening of more massage businesses and spas across the United States. Additionally, the job prospects of these professionals are expected to grow as people become better informed about the benefits of massage therapy. Membership of professional organizations and networking could help boost the prospects of entry-level massage therapists who could thus build their client base to ensure steady work. In May 2012, massage therapists took home an average annual wage of $35,970.

Licensure Norms

Licensure is mandatory for massage therapists in some states, and the standards for licensing vary from state to state. Passage of an exam and undergoing training will enable the candidate to obtain licensure, either administered by a state or recognized nationally. Exams include the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination and the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage. Often, candidates are required to renew licenses. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork awards voluntary certification aimed at helping candidates showcase their skills and knowledge to potential job giver. To become eligible for the certification, students need to complete at least 500 hours of training, in addition to taking an exam and pursuing continuing education courses aimed at re-validating the certification.

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