How long have you been a massage therapist?
What does your job entail?
I own my own small wellness center, so it entails performing massage on a variety of people for a variety of reasons. It also entails maintaining and running an office with subcontractors and making sure the office runs smoothly. Marketing, following up with clients, outreach events, constantly keeping up with learning new techniques to enhance the massage that I give.
What kind of schooling or training did you go through?
I went to CCBC Essex. It is an almost two-year program and I received an associate degree in massage therapy. We had one semester in Swedish massage, one in deep tissue and one in myofascial release. We also did a rotation at Franklin Square Medical Center in the oncology unit, working on people with cancer who were going through treatment. There were a ton of anatomy classes, a research class, pathology class.
What inspired you to this career?
I had visited the idea of massage previously and was unable to commit the time and money to the training. So, this time around I was thinking health care or nursing, but I just wasn't sure I really wanted to deal with all that a nurse has to deal with. But I really wanted to help people and feel good about what I was doing. I came back to massage and decided to give it a try.
What do you like best about your job?
I love that I get to help people that for the most part, when people leave my office they are happy and feel better than when they came in that I had a major role to play in that. I still have a hard time believing that I can help initiate such changes and can help create such a balance in someone else. It is so very rewarding!
What are the challenges?
The biggest challenge is gaining a client base. As in any self-run business, it takes time to build a client base and to really start receiving an income. It has taken me two years to get my schedule to where I want it. Most people are unaware of the time it takes to create this. Another challenge, especially in the beginning, is pricing and charging. It was hard for me to think of charging $60, $70, $80 per hour. But I had to really look at what that means. If I charge $60 per 60-minute massage, that is not really $60 per hour. I schedule 30 minutes between each client to help with lateness, chatting and cleanup. Then I have to think about everything else I do to run the business. That is time and I need to get paid for that somehow. Then there are supplies, laundering and so-on. So, I started off at $60 and raised my rate after a year to $75. I offer discounts regularly, and I offer discounts to clients who want to make massage a part of their regular health regimen. I still try to look at it from my perspective as a client. Realistically, what could I afford to spend per month?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2010 annual median salary of a massage therapist is $34,900.Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun