A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy School in Anchorage, AK

In the world of massage therapy, Anchorage is one busy city! It’s among the top in the nation with regards to concentration of massage therapist jobs. Therapeutic massage is well-represented in the city’s healthcare industry. Anchorage massage therapists work in chiropractic and physical therapy offices, healthcare centers, spas, and massage franchises, among other settings. Some have their own massage studios. Some provide services to individuals at their own homes or businesses.

Alaska Massage Therapy Schools

The Alaska Institute of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, and Massage Therapy is a well-known and well-respected Anchorage institution. A student can opt for a curriculum in Eastern and Western healing that includes movement modalities such as qigong and Tai Chi in addition to Taoist bodywork modalities like acupressure. The school even offers medical qigong. The combined massage/ Thai massage program includes techniques such as GuaSha and cupping along with Swedish and chair massage. The Institute reports that potential employers/ end users sometimes receive gift certificates to the student clinic.

The Alaska Academy of Advanced Cosmetology & Massage offers a 750-hour program. Students gain some foundation in a variety of techniques, including pregnancy massage, sports massage, and neuromuscular therapy. The program includes electives to complement basics like anatomy and kinesiology, bodywork technique, and student clinic. Myofascial release, manual lymphatic drainage, infant massage, and geriatric massage are among the possibilities.

Alaska Career College represents yet another option. Here, too, one can learn specialty techniques, among them, shiatsu, chair massage, reflexology, sports massage, and hot stone massage. Alaska Career College notes that their students complete fully 80 massages as part of their student clinic experience.

Massage as Medical Care

In Anchorage, massage therapy is very much a part of the physical recovery process, whether a person was injured in a motor vehicle accident or sports competition, suffers from repetitive stress, or has a degenerative condition. Here a person can find teams of half a dozen or so massage therapists working alongside other professionals who specialize in rehabilitation.

Many have contributed to making massage accessible to the population as a whole, and not just to a luxury clientele. The TuiNa Pain Relief Clinic brings medical acupressure to a community setting. The Southcentral Foundation operates a Complementary Medicine Clinic where people can receive massage upon provider referral, whether for injury or illness.

Alaska, like other states in the Pacific Northwest, has been proactive about providing insurance coverage for therapeutic massage. The Alaska Academy of Advanced Cosmetology & Massage categorizes therapeutic massage as an insurance eligible component of mainstream healthcare. Massage Now reports that doctors can prescribe massage for conditions such as fibromyalgia (http://massagenowak.com/Insurance.htm). A number of massage therapists tout their status on the preferred provider list of plans such as Aetna and Premera Blue Cross. Massage practices may also accept other forms of insurance such as worker’s compensation.

Alivio Therapeutic Massage notes that for many patients a four- to six-week prescription will not only decrease pain but increase range of motion. Some people, though, rely on continued access. A recent article about the Alaska Veterans Administration noted that non-pharmaceutical complementary practices, inclusive of massage, mitigated pain for some veterans, but there was frustration regarding limits on how much could be covered (https://www.ktuu.com/content/news/Alaska-VA-increases-staffing-to-improve-access-but-veterans-say-theyre-being-cut-off-from-pain-therapy-499376701.html).

A number of Anchorage massage therapists practice oncology massage. Massage is widely used to manage side effects of cancer treatment, and is respected by many healthcare professionals, even in traditional settings. Anchorage practitioners may have multiple advanced trainings and certifications, including oncology massage and lymphedema treatment.

A massage therapist may maintain strong connections to an organized health system while also maintaining a base of clients who seek general wellness and relaxation. Massage therapists utilize different methods of making healthcare connections. Massage Magazine reported on an Anchorage Massage Therapist who made connections at a hospital by volunteering her time while meeting requirements for an advanced training (https://www.massagemag.com/getting-started-in-seated-massage-24055).

Spa Treatments and Corporate Massage

There is of course also a market for those who crave a spa experience. Alaska is also a place to play. The Sheraton Anchorage Hotel, for example, features an “Ice Spa” with a number of services to appeal to both male and female travelers. Options for men include jetlag massage and golfer’s massage. There’s also a package that includes a massage, haircut, and sports pedicure; this one is touted for, among others, a clientele who is in town for business negotiations.

The Adagio Day Spa offers multiple luxury packages including aromatherapy massage that carries a choice of themes (e.g. Getaway to Provence, Corsican Delight).

Alaska Workplace Massage sends massage therapists to do chair massages at workplaces, whether for regularly scheduled “massage days” or for promotions, conferences, or rewards. The organization touts flexible scheduling as a perk for its massage therapists.

Massage Therapist Salary in Anchorage and Career Outlook

The median hourly wage in the Anchorage area is $40.02. Even those at the 10th percentile make $22.89. Those at the 90th percentile, meanwhile, make $61.44. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Anchorage has the highest mean wage of any metropolitan area in the nation, though of course cost of living is known to be high here as well.

The Alaska Career College recently added an evening class, crediting increasing awareness of massage benefits as the reason for its rise in popularity. The Anchorage metropolitan area is third in the nation with regard to location quotient -- in other words, there's a lot of massage therapy here, relative to population level!