If you've ever undergone a massage, you know how powerful they can be to melt away stress or manage a painful injury. Because they're so wildly popular, it's no wonder that massage therapy is a booming field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the field will grow 22 percent by 2024, far above the national average of 7 percent. It's a rewarding job, both financially and in the knowledge that you've helped others. But if you want to be part of this boom period in massage therapy, you have to be the right candidate for the job.
"The massage therapy field is set to grow 22% by 2024."
Here are the four traits that make for a successful and effective massage therapist:
1. They excel at communication
Being a massage therapist means working with a wide array of clients. While one might just need to relax after a stressful week at work, others are dealing with chronic pain from injuries or ongoing issues with muscles and joints. No matter the ailment, an effective massage therapist knows how to talk to patients to determine the medical issue and how to approach it. That means talking with clients about what feels good and areas that may be especially sore or tender. Massage therapists must keep this dialogue going throughout each session, making sure that the person on the table is aware and comfortable at all times. It's about asking the right questions, but it's also about reading between the lines.
2. They love working with people
Effective communication skills are only one part of the equation; massage therapists have to truly thrive when it comes to working with or serving others. Oftentimes, that means having unique skills that aren't quite as tangible. For instance, massage therapists need the ability to soothe clients, to make them feel comfortable in a space and thus fully involved in each session. Part of that is knowing how to read people and understand the subtleties of human interaction. It's also about being committed to great customer service, to have a keen interest in the wants and needs of others. A massage therapist is dedicated creating an experience of tranquility and healing for every single client.
3. They're dedicated to the craft
Even if you're the best communicator, or simply adore working with others, massage therapists also have to be committed to their work 100 percent. On the one hand, that means maintaining a certain level of professionalism. Massage can be an intense experience for people, one that requires a level of intimacy and vulnerability. More than just engaging people, the massage therapist has to exemplify several key behaviors to make sure people know you can be trusted. Professionalism also means dedicating yourself to constant learning. Aside from the hours it takes to achieve your certification, great massage therapists will put in added work over the years, taking classes and reading up on new techniques to better serve clients.
"Massages can be physically taxing to both clients and the therapist."
4. They don't mind a little hard work
Being a massage therapist is intense and sometimes difficult work, and the most qualified individuals don't mind one bit. Even if you're not the person being worked over, massage therapy can be physically taxing. If you don't have the right technique or stamina, you won't be able to help your clients. Similarly, if you don't have enough upper body strength, then even a single session can leave the therapist feeling physically worn down and aching. And while massage therapists always want to protect their clients from harm, sometimes effective sessions can still hurt. That's why massage therapists must be able to put their clients through a bit of pain and hard work if they know that the end results will be an overall better quality of life.
Massage therapy is a taxing field, but it also has more than its fair share of rewards. The best of these is knowing the impact you'll have on people's lives and their ability to cope with pain and stress.