A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Phoenix Massage Therapy Schools

One thing a person will notice immediately when perusing Phoenix job ads in 2019 -- the variety of massage therapy postings. Among those posting: hotels and resorts, chiropractic offices, day spas, and innovative niche businesses (for example, corporate chair massage). Some focus on helping people manage illness or pain, others on creating a mini-vacation experience, still others on helping athletes stay in peak condition.

There can be a very different feel from one massage therapy practice to another, even a different feel from one physical therapy-based practice to another; some have a sports clientele, some a clientele of older patients. Massage therapists who specialize in sports massage can work with players at multiple levels: high- and low-profile professional teams, college teams, weekend enthusiasts. The greater Phoenix area hosted a workshop in spring of 2018 for massage therapists who sought specialty sports massage therapy certification.

Some practices post bios of their massage therapists and invite clients to sign up with the one they prefer. Massage therapy bios may list the particular modalities the massage therapist is adept with and the specialized certifications he or she has earned; some even include testimonials from clients.

Many massage therapists of course work for the big massage franchises. Massage franchises include Massage Envy, Elements Massage, and Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa; Massage Envy is Scottsdale-based. Xpress Massage has a site at Sky Harbor International Airport.

Even a massage franchise can be known for a signature therapy. AZ Central recently reported on Scottsdale Massage Envy’s role in keeping golfers in top condition for the PGA tour (https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/golf/phoenix-open/2018/01/30/how-scottsdale-based-massage-envy-changing-pga-tour/1080785001/).

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, a very well-known luxury resort, offers a luxurious vacation experience for people of means, but also serves to provide people with centering experiences and enhanced well-being when they are facing cancer. Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain counts oncology massage among its specialties. The organization utilizes very experienced massage and bodywork professionals as Sensei therapists. They develop adjunct skills such as energy modalities. The resort was in the news for its fundraising efforts for ovarian cancer research and detection.

Phoenix Massage Therapy Schools Highlighted

The Cortiva Institute-Phoenix campus offers a 720-hour ACCET-accredited program. The Cortiva Institute has two additional schools in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area: one in Scottsdale and one in Tempe.

A student at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe can pursue a 750- or 1,000-hour program. He or she can pursue one specialty certificate with the shorter program, two with the longer one. The Southwest Institute has an associate's degree option as well as diploma options.

Phoenix College represents a public college option. Students can exit with a certificate or an associate's degree. Students develop business competencies as well as massage competencies. Phoenix College offers a wide variety of electives supporting modalities like Pilates, Tai Chi, and aromatherapy as well as massage modalities (hand and foot massage, acupuncture and shiatsu, gentle touch for cancer).

The Phoenix Massage Therapy Scene

When figured on a population basis, the number of massage therapists is not as high as it is in Tucson or Prescott, but when one takes into account the sheer number of people in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, it's a world of opportunity! There are some nice niche markets here for those who make themselves competitive.

For those who like to take in events themselves – the sports events, the major concerts, the conferences -- this is the busiest Arizona metropolitan area! Are there downsides? There are some busy freeways and, yes, some heat.

The weather, notably, has an impact on the tourism industry. Here there are differences between the summer and winter population. Not all retirees who are drawn to the Phoenix area are here year-round. The metropolitan area also a significant number of snowbirds who winter here and summer in colder climes.

Diverse Pathways

The Arizona Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association has published profiles of massage therapists from Phoenix and the surrounding areas (http://az.wp.amtamassage.org/newsletters/ winter 2015). Professionals have taken diverse paths to therapeutic massage and have charted different paths as LMTs. The Winter 2015 newsletter featured a nun who was also a massage therapist. The Sister stated that as a girl her hands used to itch when she perceived people in pain and distress. It might well be that they were itching to take an active role in bringing comfort! After experiencing some burnout in her long-time career ministry, she was fortunate to be granted an opportunity to explore other ministries.

Another massage therapist featured in the same issue had experience in long-term care and hospice; she had worked with AIDS patients at a time when this was considered risky business.

Massage Therapy Income and Career Outlook

The median massage therapist hourly wage in the Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa area was $19.84 in 2017. Massage therapists at the 10th percentile made $10.01 while those at the 90th percentile made $38.59.

Work situations are highly variable. Some massage therapists receive a range of benefits from their employers. Some are independent contractors. A massage therapist may be self-employed but maintain strong ties to other wellness professionals. Chiropractic offices, for example, sometimes advertise for massage therapists to rent rooms in their suites.

Phoenix College notes the therapeutic massage market has expanded to include members of the general population, many of whom, in the interest of general wellness, seek massage regularly.

Finding one’s place in the niche market – cultivating a specialty where one is at the top of the pack – can help a person become a high earner. So states the founder of Scottsdale-based Mojo Physio and Neuromuscular Performance Institute (https://www.massagemag.com/highest-earning-massage-therapists-89281/). He offers the following as an example: being the go-to shoulder therapist in the area.

Of course some massage therapists focus on creating the ultimate spa experience: aromatic oils, scenic views, heated stones and warm water, a general feast for the senses.

Additional Resources

Massage Schools in Arizona