A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy School in Rapid City, SD

Rapid City, South Dakota has a new Regional Health Orthopedic and Specialty Hospital. Massage is included among the therapy services. The Regional Health website states a number of conditions for which a massage prescription might be written: back pain, sports injury, even heart disease. It further states that massage may mitigate pain and stress for those with cancer or life limiting illness.

Regional Health is the type of facility that tends to draw in healthcare professionals, though there are of course limited openings in disciplines like massage. The facility’s very existence provides some evidence that massage is recognized as healthcare and indeed is going mainstream. It’s happening throughout the country, including here in the Black Hills.

Rapid City is not typically a place people will go specifically to practice massage unless they're coming from smaller and more rural communities. Still, it is a place one can build a career. Rapid City is growing, and massage therapy as an occupation is growing faster. The 2016 to 2026 South Dakota massage therapy occupational growth rate has been projected to be a very healthy 28.6% (https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm). Growth is of course relative. South Dakota’s job concentration is, according to governmental sources, below average, but the city may appeal to those who like new terrain and who want to bring to the area some of what's being done in other areas. They may opt to open their own private practice.

There’s a place for someone who is able to get away for the occasional few days; massage schools in different cities host experts for a few days of intensive training in niche areas. It can be an advantage to complete far more than the eight hours of continuing education required by the South Dakota Board.

Rapid City may in turn draw students from other parts of the state for their initial training. The city retains at least one massage therapy school that is enrolling students for their initial license-qualifying education. With National American University having recently switched to online-only programming, one option has been lost; it remains to be seen what other school(s) will fill the void.

Popular Massage Schools in Rapid City, SD

Headlines Academy focuses primarily on Swedish massage but introduces various modalities, including reflexology. Headlines is a school member of the American Massage Therapy Association. AMTA lists accreditation as NACCAS and program hours as 750. Students can expect to do some volunteer work as well as participate in the student clinic.

Making the Most of Opportunity

Therapeutic massage is incredibly diverse with massage therapists specializing in helping different populations. Self-employment is, around the nation, very common in massage therapy. A massage therapist can start small, especially if he or she has a space to work out of, has potential business partners, and/ or is comfortable doing outcalls. Potential partners include other healthcare professionals and other fitness and wellness professionals, including yoga teachers. Outcalls may be made to various public settings.

Some studios are focused on specialized areas like pain relief. One will find quite a few specialty modalities that have made it to Rapid City: myofascial, even Ashiatsu barefoot therapy. The latter is more than a gimmick -- it is reported to provide a more pain-free deep tissue massage. Nationwide, massage therapists with medical or sports practices build clienteles by becoming the best in their area (with area referring to the specific services provided as well as the geography). Sometimes being the best means studying with the best. It entails more than just having a grab bag of modalities, though there are some very specialized ones out there. Medical and sports LMTs know how to assess client needs and give a massage that's tailored to them. They may combine massage modalities. They may focus on specific parts of the body.

Healthcare and Fitness Partnerships

Massage therapists may work in healthcare offices with healthcare providers like chiropractors. They may team with sports professionals. The following is a look at some of the successful businesses in the Rapid City area:

Black Hills Health and Wellness is a successful chiropractic office that also offers a wide variety of massage modalities, including acupressure, trigger point, Russian massage, structural integration, and lymphatic massage. The practice also exemplifies proactive marketing practices. Among the things it’s doing: setting up booths at events around the city and letting people know how chiropractic services can benefit them.

Physio Performance utilizes professionals with a variety of professional licenses. The business has an LMT who is also a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist.

Innovative Massage Practices

Graceful Touch is operated by a couple who are both licensed as massage therapists. The staff page lists just the two of them. Both have multiple competencies, including a unique massage that utilizes essential oils; one therapist is competent in lymph massage. KEVN Black Hills Fox profiled the business in 2019 (https://www.blackhillsfox.com/content/news/Black-Hills-FOX-Business-Graceful-Touch-505333261.html).

Sometimes innovation comes in the form of equipment. The Wellness Connection has hydro massage tables. Black Hills Salt Cave and Spa offers massage as well as halotherapy and sauna. Indeed this business is the inspiration of a massage therapist! Clients can opt for Thai massage, Himalayan salt stone massage, and a massage that blends therapeutic styles. The Black Hills Salt Cave and Spa was featured in the Black Hills Pioneer in 2019 (https://www.bhpioneer.com/local_news/black-hills-salt-cave-and-spa-now-open-in-spearfish/article_0d36cf9a-3078-11e9-8620-4f0bb01fcccd.html).

South Dakota may not have a big tourism industry but there are plenty in need of a staycation. Prospective business owners can look at what's being done in other cities, from massage and movement modalities to massage packages (including special packages for moms during the month of May.)

Additional Resources

South Dakota Massage Therapy License Requirements

Massage Schools in South Dakota