What it Takes to Become a Massage Therapist

Books and study materials litter the desk of a busy massage therapy student.

May is the month of graduations, and to celebrate, we’ve decided to see what it takes to graduate as a licensed massage therapist.  We talked to Zeel Massage Therapist Sienna Wildwind to find out.

Sienna attended McKinnon, a massage institute in San Francisco. Many students at massage schools like McKinnon attend part-time, and Sienna took between 12 and 24 hours of classes a week, for a total of 525 hours.  Most students take anywhere between 6 months and 2 years to graduate.

Coursework is varied and includes everything from anatomy, ethics, hygiene and physiology to specific massage techniques, like hot stone, acupressure, shiatsu and reflexology.  “Since demonstration, practice, and receiving were all part of learning, it was a profoundly transformative experience.”

Massage students don’t choose majors like in traditional undergraduate programs, but can choose specialty tracks for coursework. Sienna, for example, completed a track in Asian systems.

Hands-on (literally) practice is part of massage school training.  Sienna practiced on “friends and family” and notes that, even as a graduate, she still gets asked if she needs more practice!  The on-campus clinic is staffed by McKinnon graduates.

Massage school, says Sienna, attracts a diverse set of  students from all ages and backgrounds. Ultimately, she recommends massage training and careers to “sensitive, caring individuals.”

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