f you’re considering becoming a massage therapist, then you’ve probably also looked into related health and medical occupations. The TRES lists two related occupations with similar job duty descriptions to massage therapy. They are:

There is a lot of overlap between these different health occupations and deciding which career is best will vary from person to person. However, one of the first factors that should be considered when deciding which health career to pursue is the initial educational investment.

Time Investment and Course Content Comparison

Massage Therapy Certificate: To become a massage therapist generally requires a minimum of 500 in-class hours and an average of 673 hours of initial training.2 Massage Therapy programs are usually designed to be completed in under in a year. For example, the Massage Therapy certificate from Acupuncture and Massage College is designed to be completed in 9-months.

Associate’s Degree: Many people that consider going to massage college have previously enrolled or have graduated from a community college. These colleges typically award an associate’s degree and requires 60 credit hours.

One (1) credit hour is considered to include 1 hour of in-class lecture and 2 hours of homework (or 3 hours for a lab). So an associate’s degree without laboratory work would require a total of 60 hours spent in class and 120 credit hours of homework for a total of 180 hours.

This means that in order to finish an associate’s degree in 2 years, you will have to take a minimum of 12 credit hours a semester, which is considered full-time status. Piters to say, it is very difficult to balance a full-time class load with a full-time job and family obligations.

Bachelor’s Degree: To become an Athletic Trainer or Exercise Physiologist requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university. Typically, this requires 120 credit hours or a total of 120 in-class hours and 240 hours of homework for a total of 360 hours. This the same as an associate’s degree, but twice as long. To work a full-time job and manage family obligations is even more difficult in these circumstances.

Occupational Employment Outlook and Wages

If a degree or certification program takes longer to complete, then you would assume that the pay-off would be more in the long-run, correct? Typically, yes, but not necessarily or rather, not by much more. For example, using the mean wages provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (US DOL BLS), we can compare the annual mean wage or average yearly salary for the different occupations, as provided in May of 2016.


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