A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy School in Tacoma

Washington State has a massage therapist job concentration that is among the highest in the nation. Tacoma is a standout, and not just because it’s one of the largest cities. It has a higher job concentration than many parts of the state, though not quite at the level of Seattle, Kennewick, or the Southern Washington Portland suburbs. Thankfully, it isn’t quite as costly to live in Tacoma as Seattle; home prices here are a good deal lower.

This is a very massage-friendly area, and not just because individual residents embrace newer concepts of wellness. The popularity also reflects a strong presence in organized healthcare. Organizations not only have positive things to say about integrative treatments; they put their money behind them. Clinical services may be covered by health insurance, auto insurance, or worker's compensation, depending on the circumstances.

Top Massage Schools in Tacoma and Surrounding Areas

The Alexander School of Natural Therapeutics has a 40-year history. The program is 722 hours. The largest portion of the techniques coursework is Swedish massage; students learn to adapt ‘basic’ massage techniques to meet the needs of people with various pathologies. Other modalities include sports massage, chair massage, and prenatal massage. Anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology coursework comprise more than 150 hours. Subjects like medical documentation, insurance billing, and practitioner ergonomics round out the curriculum.

The Northwest Academy for the Healing Arts offers multiple scheduling options. Modalities include Swedish, myofascial release, and massage for pregnancy and injury recovery. Science is hands-on. An agreement with Bastyr University allows students use of a cadaver lab, though alternate arrangements are possible.

Clover Park Technical College offers multiple options, ranging from a short certificate program to an associate's degree. The most basic option is the certificate in Swedish massage. Students receive 600 hours of training, which is above the minimum for licensure in Washington State. A graduate (or licensed massage therapist) can complete an additional 600 hours and receive a second certificate, this one in clinical massage. The associate degree includes the full 1,200 hours, plus a few general studies courses.

The Bodymechanics School of Myotherapy and Massage in Tumwater touts its very high examination rate. The American Massage Therapy Association lists program hours as 600. The Bodymechanics School states that they emphasize skills students need to be career ready, including proper body mechanics. The school also has a personal training program; some massage therapists continue on for the second credential.

Massage Therapists at Healthcare Offices

Healthcare offices may have one discipline or several. The following are among the many healthcare offices in the area that utilize massage therapists:

  • Radiant Physical Therapy has one physical therapist and four massage therapists.
  • Northwest Therapeutic Massage has six massage therapists.
  • The Health Connection, meanwhile, is a combined chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy office.

Massage as Healthcare

Some massage therapists have a lengthy list of health insurance companies for whom they are preferred providers. Medical massage can be lucrative. The business side of it takes work. Thankfully, this is among the skills one can learn in a Washington massage therapy course.

There are a number of massage schools in the area. Education and professional experience are closely interwoven. Individuals begin making professional connections while in school. Students at Clover Park Technical College, for example, give nurses massage during Nurses Week (https://thesubtimes.com/2019/05/16/cptc-students-celebrate-nurses-week-with-massages/).

Massage therapists may continue to pursue advanced trainings. In fact, they often list these on their bios.

The Kitsap Sun profiled a massage therapist in nearby Shelton who specializes in helping people in pain (https://www.kitsapsun.com/story/news/local/communities/mason/2017/09/18/massage-therapist-offers-oasis-pain/678060001/). While the name Blue Oasis Spa and Massage may connote luxury, some patrons are looking for relief from pain associated with conditions as serious as cancer.

In Western Washington, healthcare has moved far beyond traditional healthcare settings. Some massage therapists perform onsite massage at homes or corporate settings. There are even massage businesses at the airport. Sea-Tac Airport, in fact, is credited with hosting the first airport spa in the nation. Travelers seek massage in part as a way of dealing with discomfort brought on by sitting in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time.

The Current Job Market

One can find a lot of job ads for massage therapists in the Tacoma area in mid-2019. Some are advertising generous benefit packages.

Chiropractic offices are stand-outs with regard to number of ads. One can find some other healthcare offices advertising, including physical therapy. Among the notable employers is Sports and Spine, operating under the banner of MultiCare. In addition to health benefits, the organization touts a generous continuing education budget: $2,000. Sports and Spine has a 4.7 rating on Indeed.com; reviews come from employees with varying job titles.

Massage Therapists as Entrepreneurs

There are a lot of entrepreneurs in the area. Some stay solo while others develop relatively large practices.

Sole practitioners may have multiple professional affiliations. Some practitioners have specialties like craniosacral therapy. Whole Being Wellness Massage incorporates Tibetan singing bowls and other sound therapy as well as specialized modalities like myofascial release, Thai massage, and manual lymphatic drainage.

The owner of Carpe Diem Massage opened a solo massage studio as a leap of faith two decades ago (https://carpediemmassage.com/). She recently retired from actively performing massage but continues on as business owner. Her practice has grown to include massage therapists and estheticians. This proprietor has enjoyed contributing to wellness and healing of women suffering from domestic abuse.

The owner of Melted Muscles is both a massage therapist and an esthetician. She has a couple other massage therapists on her team.

The co-founder of Serenity Spa and Natural Health Clinic is also a massage therapist. The massage team now numbers ten. There are other professionals on board including estheticians and spa managers; there is even a small physical therapy team. A link on the website invites professionals to join the team; the first step of the application process can be carried out right on the website.

Massage Therapist Earnings

Massage therapists in the Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma metropolitan area enjoyed a median hourly wage of $31.45 in 2018. Those at the 10th percentile made $17.83 -- something one arguably needs the other side of the county line, in Seattle! Those at the 90th percentile, meanwhile were earning $39.86.

Additional Resources

Washington Massage Therapy License

Massage Schools in Washington State