The majority of massage therapists were self-employed in 2010. Others worked mainly in personal care services and various healthcare industries. Many massage therapists work part time; only about 1 out of 4 worked full time in 2010.
Because therapists work by appointment in most cases, their schedules and the number of hours worked each week vary considerably. In addition to hours giving massages, therapists may also spend time recording patient notes, marketing, booking clients, washing linens, and other general business tasks.
Massage therapists work in an array of settings, both private and public, such as private offices, spas, hospitals, fitness centers, and shopping malls. Some massage therapists also travel to clients’ homes or offices to give a massage.
Most massage therapists, especially those who are self-employed, provide their own table or chair, sheets, pillows, and body lotions or oils.
A massage therapist's working conditions depend heavily on the location and what the client wants. For example, a massage meant to help rehabilitate an injury may be conducted in a well-lit setting with several other clients receiving treatment in the same room. But when giving a massage to help clients relax, massage therapists generally work in dimly lit settings and use candles, incense, and calm, soothing music.
Because massage is physically demanding, massage therapists can injure themselves if they do not use the proper techniques. Repetitive-motion problems and fatigue from standing for extended periods are most common. Therapists can limit these risks by using good techniques, spacing sessions properly, exercising and, in many cases, receiving a massage themselves regularly.