A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy School in Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines is a massage-friendly city! It’s a place where moms and dads can take classes to learn how to massage their newborns and where people are beginning to recognize the value of massage for all age groups. Beyond the very early years, people tend to seek the services of a professional to help them feel better, and there are plenty of professionals here, with different areas of expertise.

Top Massage Therapy Schools in Des Moines

Body Wisdom Massage Therapy School offers its students the basics pus their choice of classes to get them ahead. The total program is 768 hours; it includes 504 hours of core courses and 264 hours of customized selections. The school touts seven career tracks, including medical, orthopedic and sports massage; India, Asia, and South Pacific bodywork; and practitioner wellness advantage (with a focus on personal wellness and on transcending physical limitations which could be an obstacle for one’s own career success). A student can customize the experience even more with his or her choice of electives.

The College of Massage and the Healing Arts Center offers a 600-hour program with flexible scheduling options. Some students are invited to join the professional massage clinic after graduation.

The Aveda Institute-Des Moines offers a 750 hour program. Swedish and deep tissue massage are emphasized. The student can expect a foundation in aromalogy – the study of aroma.

Massage Therapy Work Settings

Massage therapists are found in various settings including chiropractic office, physical therapy offices, day spas, and franchises. Des Moines massage therapists are bringing massage therapy to more populations that can benefit, among them, senior living communities. Valley View Village is among the assisted living communities that touts massage therapy (http://valleyviewvillage.org/services/assisted-living/). According to the website, they’re excited to have the service on-site.

Des Moines Massage Therapy Practices

Massage studios can be managed by one person working alone or by a very small team. Blades Massage Therapy team has two sisters at the helm.

East Village Spa has ten LMTs on board as of early 2019. All have proficiencies in two common spa massages: Swedish (relaxation) and hot stone. They have a range of different specialties. Published bios include a question and answer session with the therapist; guests can schedule with the therapist of their choice.

The Des Moines area also has its share of massage franchises. There is more than one Massage Heights operating here.

Massage Therapists Working for Major Healthcare Organizations

KC CORE is a hospital based chiropractic clinic operating under the banner of Mercy; it was among the organizations seeking therapeutic massage talent in Des Moines in early 2019. Mercy Comfort Health Center for Women offers deep tissue and relaxation massage as well as oncology massage. Additional information about integrative modalities is available from the parent organization, Unity Point; the organization states that the Charlie Cutler Healing and Wellness Endowment may be used to provide fitness and complementary wellness practices (https://www.unitypoint.org/desmoines/rally-against-cancer.aspx).

Mainstream medical professionals are seeing the value of massage for many conditions, but they are at different stages. The medical director at John Stoddard Cancer Center believes strongly in integrative medicine. He focuses a lot on nutrition – diet being a big part of how cancer gains a foothold in the first place – but is also interested in other components of wellness such as the mind-body connection. He told the Des Moines Register in 2018 that guided imagery and massage were on their way to Stoddard (https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/health/2018/08/09/nutrition-tips-added-sugar-killing-us-says-iowa-cancer-doctor-andrew-nish-promotes-vegetables/844810002/).

Des Moines Area Entrepreneurs

Self-employment is an option – and part of the dream for many. The Des Moines Register has profiled several massage businesses.

The proprietor of Hewitt Wellness told the Des Moines Register that one thing she liked about being in business for herself was the option she had to spend a few extra minutes with a client who needed it, and one thing she liked about her own business site was the location -- near busy intersections (https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/local/community/2017/05/22/ankeny-hewitt-wellness-massage-bettina/102010840/)! Clients include teens with athletic injuries, elderly individuals, and adults whose tech or office postures give them aches and pains. This entrepreneur uses a variety of essential oils, believing their properties are part of the healing process.

An Urbandale massage therapist, meanwhile, focuses entirely on sports massage and on treating particular complaints (e.g. sore knees). Again, he has a range of ages – 14 to 80. It’s a very different style. There are no lotions here, but an LMT who, in his own estimation, does a lot of talking during his sessions. Like others skilled in manual therapy, he can tell a lot about a person’s condition with his hands; however, the verbal exchange helps him fix what ails a person.

An Ankeny massage therapist, certified in medical massage, notes he treats sports injuries and “even migraines”. He had done relaxation massage early in his career but gradually moved from a generalist role to a specialist, treatment-centered role (https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/local/community/2016/03/31/ben-sponsler-rogue-bodyworks-ankeny/82469986/). He references particular types of bodywork that he incorporates: structural integration, instrument-assisted soft tissue manipulation.

A Waukee massage therapist who mixes modalities to meet individual needs attributed her interest in massage in part to her experience having a seizure disorder. One thing she likes about her own location: its proximity to a chiropractor and nutrition store.

It is actually quite common for massage therapists to be located in chiropractic offices. They may have different business set-ups. One’s business partners aren’t always fellow massage therapists!

Des Moines Massage Therapist Career Prospects and Earnings

The median hourly wage for a Des Moines-West Des Moines massage therapist was $19.47 in 2017 -- a shade above the national median. Most massage therapists in the area made hourly wages between $11.84 and $33.88, but 10% fell on either end. The job concentration is higher than average for this part of the country and indeed a bit higher than average for the country as a whole.

Self-employment – and all its complexities – means that the range of earnings can be wide.

Additional Resources

Iowa Massage Therapy License Requirements

Massage Schools in Iowa