A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy School in Baltimore, Maryland

Why select the Baltimore area to work as a massage therapist? It's more than just the urban amenities! It’s also the respect that is granted to massage therapists as members of the healthcare team. Baltimore has been cited as one of the top cities for integrative and complementary medicine (https://www.camlawblog.com/articles/health-trends/complementary-and-integrative-medicine-best-cities). Two of the area’s premier healthcare institutions -- the University of Maryland and John Hopkins – are noted among the reasons, as is the plethora of wellness centers.

A search of job ads in the greater Baltimore area will reveal that a large portion of massage therapy positions are advertised by franchises like Massage Envy. If a person goes to work in the Baltimore area today as a massage professional, there’s a good chance he or she will work in a franchise, spa, or small massage studio. However, some highly trained massage will be in healthcare practices; the employing healthcare facility might even be part of the network for a major healthcare provider. Research for Wellness lists three integrative health systems in or near Baltimore: John Hopkins, the University of Maryland, and MedStar Health Center for Integrative Medicine. Spring of 2019, moreover, found both the University of Maryland Integrative Health and Wellness Center and MedStar advertising for massage therapists.

Education is key: moreso here than in many places. Maryland distinguishes between Licensed Massage Therapists and Registered Massage Practitioners. One needs to be an LMT to practice therapeutic massage in a healthcare setting. This requires the equivalent of an associate’s degree. RMPs practice massage therapy in settings that are not considered healthcare.

There are varied options for both. In Baltimore, as in other major cities, there are a number of niche practices, including sports massage and massage on-demand. There are also those high-end spas.

Top Massage Therapy Schools in Baltimore

The Community College of Baltimore County in Rosedale boasts a massage therapy program that is accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA). The college gives students the opportunity to earn an associate's degree. Students have three terms of student clinic. During the third practical experience course, they also have the opportunity to put in hours in medical settings off-campus. The final term of the program includes an internship opportunity; this is a personalized experience that may help the individual forge a career path.

The Holistic Massage Training Institute boasts an 810-hour program that offers some preparation for many modalities, including Shiatsu, myofascial massage, acupressure, and deep tissue. The school holds accreditation through the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

The Fortis Institute-Towson offers a 720-hour program. Students can expect a foundation in Swedish massage as well as some introduction to other massage techniques (https://www.fortis.edu/programs/beauty---wellness/massage-therapy.html).

Massage in Traditional and Integrative Healthcare

A 2019 Medical Xpress article on the value of spa treatments for oncology patients quotes several Maryland professionals. The Director of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland states that therapies like massage are here to stay; she frequently discusses this type of treatment with breast cancer patients (https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-01-spa-like-treatments-ease-symptoms-cancer.html). A massage therapist working within the John Hopkins network, meanwhile, notes that oncology massage is a specialty area of therapeutic practice. An LMT makes adjustments based on individual patient health status (e.g. blood counts, bone density).

The Society for Oncology Massage notes two Baltimore hospitals that incorporate oncology massage: the John Hopkins Breast Cancer Center and Mercy Medical Center.

Massage can also be effective for pain that's not related to cancer. One thing that has helped bring the benefits into the public eye: the opioid crisis. The medical director of John Hopkins University's perioperative pain program has stated that interdisciplinary strategies are necessary to manage pain while also mitigating usage of opioids; integrative strategies could include practices like massage and meditation in addition to pharmacological treatments.

On-Site and On-Demand Massage

On-demand massage has been on the rise in the Baltimore area for some time now. An article in the Baltimore Sun gives a little background on the local industry (https://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-hs-on-demand-spa-beauty-20160907-story.html).

Massage giant Soothe has a presence here. Soothe caters to tourists, among others. In 2019, Soothe is looking for massage therapists in the Baltimore area to join up as independent contractors. The organization cites flexible scheduling, more-than-competitive earnings, and GPS check-in/ phone support to help the massage therapist stay safe traveling to clients.

One can even get a massage at the airport concourse, thanks to Baltimore Washington International Be Relax. The business offers a number of chair massages, including ‘Be Up’ which uses acupressure techniques to relieve muscle tension and ‘Be Relax’ which may help the client nod off in not-so-ideal airplane conditions. Table massage is also available. Be Relax was among the businesses advertising in Baltimore for new talent in 2019.

Sports Massage

Some massage professionals seek to improve functional abilities for sports professionals as well as those recovering from accidents or work injuries.

It takes a lot to make it to the pros -- even as a therapist -- but gigs exist at multiple levels, and successful sports massage professionals have provided a blueprint. A Massage Magazine article on cracking the pro sports industry described a career trajectory that, at the early stages, included work with individual members of the Baltimore Ravens (https://www.massagemag.com/pro-sports-massage-therapist-85900/). It wasn’t the massage professional’s first entry into the sports world; previous activity had included charity events and work with bowlers and jockeys.

Massage Therapist Salary in Baltimore

The median hourly wage for massage therapists in the Baltimore-Columbia-Townson metropolitan area was $17.12 in 2017. Those at the 10th percentile made $9.60 while those at the 90th percentile made $28.99.

Continuing Education

Initial programs are often short. Massage therapists typically rely on continuing education to develop advanced competencies in niche areas. Massage schools offer specialized post-licensure options. The Holistic Training Institute, for example, counted active isolated stretching, micro-trauma maintenance therapy, level 1 geriatric massage, and three levels of Reiki among its Spring 2019 offerings.

AMTA-Maryland provides information about special events. The 2019 state conference features a short class on pharmacology for massage therapists; it can help them understand what their patients are being prescribed for pain.

Additional Resources

Maryland Massage License Requirements

Massage Schools in Maryland