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What It Takes To Become A Massage Therapist & My School Experience


Today, hundreds of therapists sat down to take the New York State Board Exam to become Licensed Massage Therapists or LMT's. One of them was Heather, who has recently joined us here at Bodywork by Bobbi & Co.


Heather has been able to practice massage between graduating from massage school & the time until she receives her own license, under what is called a Provisional License. This means she practices under strict guidelines set by the state and is on my license, under my supervision.


I'm asked quite often what it takes to become a massage therapist, so I thought I'd share a few things with you about my school experience & what is required.


First, it's important to know that all states regulate massage differently or not at all. There are states that do not have any requirements to practice, some have 200 hours, 500 hours, or 750 hours, but New York likes to go big so we have the most required hours at 1000. We're very much regulated here from the accredited schooling, to the state wide board exam, to registrations, licenses and mandatory continuing education. (Personally, I think our training should be a bachelors degree equivalent or more, but that's for another post!)


When you apply to massage school it is a process- interviews, applications, background checks, more interviews, getting a massage, more interviews.  I went to a private school here in Rochester- The Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage, where I enrolled in the full time 6 month program. I literally had NO life except for school, being home only to shower and sleep. To say I dove into massage quickly, would be an understatement. I think I've been swimming in massage endorphins ever since!


Something amazing & really beautiful happens when you learn about the human body on a deep level. Not only are you learning how to physically perform the techniques, you're learning all the anatomy & physiology of the body, the different systems, all the origin/insertion/action/innervation's for each muscle. Don't forget about all the pathologies you need to be aware of... meanwhile, you are RECIEVING bodywork 5-6x a week! You're learning so much about your own body & challenging yourself and your life on a whole new level. Physically, emotionally and spiritually massage school is hugely transformative in many therapists lives. It surely was mine.


So your time is jam packed with classes, science in the morning, hands on in the afternoon, followed by public clinic in the evening, but don't forget about studying. You have to fit that studying in because you have a quiz or a test or a hands-on practical the next day. Some days you have them all, and you can't score below a 75%. Oh what about that independent study project, or the business plan to write?


Massage school is no joke. Which is why a large number of people start the program, but don't finish. It's way beyond the seemingly simple act of rubbing someones back.


Graduation comes & you're desolate, or what feels like it. One Monday you wake up and don't have a class to go to or anyone to touch or anyone to touch you. It's almost surreal, like you're thrown back into real life. Except you have to keep studying for those Boards because they only offer the test twice a year and you need to pass them.


Once the boards are passed, after anxiously waiting for weeks for the results to be posted online, the rest is just history to be made. Or at least, in my world it is.


Here's to the new round of my soon to be fellow therapist colleagues! Welcome to an amazing profession full of possibilities.


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Disclaimer: Licensed Massage Therapists are not Doctors. Bodywork by Bobbi will not diagnose, cure, or prescribe medications for any medical condition or illness.

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