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Program Snapshot: Massage Therapy

Massage therapists bring stress relief and muscular healing to clients with just a touch. The demand for massage therapists continues to grow, not only for relaxation, but for physical therapy, rehabilitation, pain management, etc. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that employment for massage therapists will increase 20% faster than the average job growth rate between 2010 and 2020. This is not surprising as a greater variety of organizations are starting to hire these specialists. Aside from massage studios and resort spas, private offices, hospitals, fitness centers, dance academies, and even shopping malls now employ individuals with massage therapy training.

Massage Therapy Certification and Licensure

In the US, 33 states (including Illinois) and Washington D.C. regulate the practice of massage therapy. In states without these regulations, practitioners may be required to procure a business license rather than a professional license. In Illinois under the Massage Licensing Act, there are three ways to qualify for licensure:

  1. Participate in a 500-hour training program and pass a competency exam approved by the state
  2. Possess licensure from another state or province that meets or exceeds the requirements of Illinois’ regulations
  3. Pass the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB)

For license renewal, practitioners must complete 24 hours of continued education within every two-year period. Classes taken for American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) recertification can be counted toward this requirement.

Northwestern College Massage Therapy Program Specifics

Upon completion of the program, students are expected to be proficient in a variety of skills:

  • Ergonomically perform massage techniques
  • Understand and explain the physiological outcomes of bodywork techniques
  • Assess and analyze joint movement to form and recommend treatment plans
  • Develop professional skills, including charting, recordkeeping, and reporting
  • Exhibit practical knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, and kinesiology
  • Actively contribute to a health care team

In addition to classwork, students will participate in a massage therapy student clinic. This allows students to gain hands-on experience in a professional setting while still learning the methodologies and techniques of the trade. The ultimate goal of the program is to train students in all the areas needed to prepare them for the NCETMB.