A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy School in Seattle, WA

Walk down the street in Seattle’s University District, and you can see multiple signs advertising massage; one even invites you to come in for a massage and a haircut. This is but a small indication of how ubiquitous massage has become in Seattle. Therapeutic massage is part of a larger focus on integrative health.

A 2019 scan of massage therapy job postings finds many businesses that are healthcare-focused and results-oriented. They may classify themselves in various ways: chiropractic office, wellness center, functional fitness. There are also spas in the market. And of course there are franchises hiring. Elements is considered a therapeutic massage franchise; there are several locations in the Seattle area advertising in mid-2019. Elements Massage in Green Lake has an average Google rating of 4.8; this is based on more than 150 reviews.

Many Licensed Massage Therapists opt for self-employment. Some relatively high-profile massage therapists work under their own name. Others opt to join forces with like-minded peers. An example is Deep River Bodyworks, a collaborative. Deep River massage therapists hve different strengths, but there are some commonalities; all have been involved with pain management in clinical settings.

Popular Massage Therapy Schools in Seattle

The Northwest Academy for the Healing Arts has several options ranging from 574-644 hours; each includes at least 55 hours of business and practice management. The Northwest Academy also has a massage abroad program.

Renton Technical College students do an externship experience during their third term. Some get experience in both a spa and physical therapy setting; others do two spas. The college describes the nine-month program as intensive with lots of homework, but notes that students come away having learned each muscle in the human body.

Bellevue Massage School offers a 651-hour program that can be completed in just 7 months.

Rainier Massage Academy has a 507-hour program (just over the 500 hours required for licensure). A student who opts for full-time studies can finish relatively quickly.

If a student travels North to Everett, they’ll find West by Northwest School of Massage with 765- and 915-hour options. The longer program includes Eastern modalities and electives.

Massage Therapy in Healthcare

There are well-known integrative health centers in the city, raising the profile of integrative therapy. The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine provides patients with integrative medicine consultations.

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center carried an article several years back about the role of massage as an add-on cancer treatment. The article noted that massage hadn’t gotten a lot of attention in the mainstream. Attention has been growing, though, over the years. Oncology massage is available through major health systems. Multiple Seattle-area hospitals are included on the list provided by the Society for Oncology Massage (https://www.s4om.org/health-care-professionals/hospitals-incorporating-oncology-massage). A number of individual practitioners note oncology massage among their competencies. The Seattle-based Dream Clinic has also provided an article about oncology massage (https://dreamclinic.com/massage-therapy/cancer-patients-benefit-from-massage).

Integrative healthcare, arguably, has become part of the Seattle healthcare mainstream. Virginia Mason, for example, touts a long list of integrative services that includes therapeutic massage (https://www.virginiamason.org/integrative-medicine-services).

Washington licenses naturopathic doctors; thus, one can find naturopathic-led clinics with massage therapists on the team. Rain City Integrative Clinic, for example, has multiple LMTs complementing a team that includes naturopaths, acupuncturists, and mental health professionals. Physical therapy offices are another market.

It can take a little extra to break into the healthcare and results-oriented fitness market. One practice that specializes in pain relief cited a number of required competencies in their job posting, among them, myofascial release and postural assessment. Not all the competencies were bodywork in the strictest sense; the applicant would need proficiency in type of charting that would be used for insurance purposes. The practice provided another list of modalities that could be desirable; among them were cupping, kinesiology taping, and intraoral.

This is a part of the country where massage is sometimes covered by insurance. Massage therapists may have their feet -- and hands -- in both the medical industry and the spa industry. Medical massage is by health practitioner prescription. Some massage practices list insurance companies for which their therapists are preferred providers (for example, Regence and Premera). LMTs who seek health insurance reimbursement privileges go through a process called credentialing.

A Successful Local Seattle Practice

One local LMT-founded business Seattle massage therapists may want to be aware of: Dreamclinic. There are now four Dreamclinic locations; most provide acupuncture services as well as massage therapy. The Dreamclinic in Roosevelt has a 4.8 Google average, based on 50 ratings. The founder is among the many who draw from previous career experience. Yes, she's trained as a massage therapist, but she also has managerial experience. Dreamclinic was among the practices advertising in mid-2019. They advertised a high starting wage plus benefits. Hires were to be ready for performance reviews starting at the six-month mark. The practice states that their massage therapists have more than 750 hours of training.

Other Notable Massage Practices and Healthcare Offices in Seattle

Mayo Therapy Associates is LMT-owned. Therapists provide insurance-reimbursed rehabilitative massage and self-pay sports and wellness massage. Specialty massages include Thai massage and orto-bionomy, among others.

Core Physical Therapy has provided potential patients with a long list of conditions that massage can potentially benefit. They’ve also provided them with a long list of modalities in which their LMTs have competency; included are less common one like cross fiber friction, muscle energy technique, and soft tissue release. The office list a particular type of neuromuscular therapy that they practice.

Massage Reimagined has a core team of four bodyworkers as well as several others who occasionally step in. Deep Lomi is among the modalities practiced.

Seattle Massage Therapist Wages and Career Outlook

The median wage for a massage therapist in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area was $31.45 in 2018. Those at the low end were making significantly more than their counterparts nationwide; the 10th percentile figure was $17.83. Those at the 90th percentile were making a very healthy $39.86.

Seattle came out at #5 on Sparefoot's list of best cities for massage therapists in 2018. Largely, it comes down to economics. The cost of living is higher than the norm here, but massage therapist adjusted salary still places near the top.

Additional Resources

Washington State Massage License Requirements

Massage Schools in Washington State