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Choosing a Massage School – Criteria that Count

November 13, 2016 4 min read


Teacher Helping Student Training To Become Massage Therapist

Whether you’re interested in becoming a massage therapist for the first time, or you just wish to add a few more treatment options to your massage menu, then you will know that there are a lot of schools to choose from and even more courses. It’s easy to go with the status quo on the latter, unless you have a special interest area. For example, most people interested in learning about massage will go for a Swedish massage course before they embark on other more specialised courses, because Swedish covers all the basic techniques and will give you great general knowledge. That may not be the right decision for everybody, but it’s a popular route for a reason.

So, assuming you’ve decided on the most suitable type of massage therapy for you, you might feel that the next logical step would be to see which is the nearest school to your home. This might be top priority for those who don’t have their own transport, or restrictions on their time, but unless you have no choice but to go with the most local school, it would still be prudent to consider other factors before making your final decision.

What kind of reputation and background does your prospective school have?

Do your homework on the school, their facilities and their staff. You can look for reviews of the school online, and evaluate carefully the information they offer to the public. Is it comprehensive? Does it answer the majority of your questions and leave you with confidence that they’ll be able to teach you everything you need to know? Is the qualification they offer suitable for your longer term needs, or will it serve as just a stepping stone before you need to undertake a more extensive period of study? If the latter is the case, consider carefully whether the fees they charge reflect this, or you could end up paying a lot more for your full tuition than you originally intended. Check whether the qualification you will receive allows you to gain proper insurance and registration with bodies you may have considered joining. If you’re not sure, you can contact these bodies (for example the FHT) to see what their requirements are before signing up to any school.

Ask the school (and/or look online) about their mission statement and policies. See if you can find testimonials from previous students and if at all possible, see if you are able to talk to any ex-students about the course and how they’ve used their qualification since. If your school is genuinely committed to your success, it will be obvious when you ask a few simple questions.

A brief search or phone call can help you to find out about your prospective tutors’ histories. If you are think you might need to understand medical conditions (other than the general tuition you will receive on most good courses) as part of your career, it wouldn’t hurt to find out if they have tutors who have extensive knowledge in this area. Then you will feel confident in assisting customers with medical conditions. You may be able to gain the approval of physicians who will recommend you to patients, and you’ll understand their expectations a lot better.

How many instructors does the school have – and who are they?

Some massage schools don’t need a large number of staff and manage fine with a minimal number of instructors. This can be ok, especially if you’re not aiming to make a career out of massage. It is worth considering whether or not a small number of staff can offer a wide enough range of experience, and whether or not they can mentor students as effectively as a well-staffed school might be able to. If you are going to a smaller school, it is a good idea to find out about the education and qualifications of the staff, not only what courses they are offering you.

Students will understandably have many questions along the way, but when competing for a chance to grab a moment of your busy teacher’s time, you may end up feeling that you have grey areas in your understanding and this could knock your confidence at exam time if left unaddressed. A good tutor will be more than happy answer all of your questions, so one way to get the measure of their attitude would be to ask the school if you can meet them before signing up. That way you can ask a few questions about their opinions, experience and how they find working at the school. How they handle you then should be a good indicator as to whether you will receive sufficient feedback over the duration of the course.

The more instructors available, the more you will have opportunities to evaluate a range of different styles and tap into a larger bank of experience and knowledge. You may be able to find a tutor with a similar style and attitude to yours, or the kind of career path you envisage yourself following. Such a tutor may provide you with more valuable information. Find out if any of the tutors practice massage outside the school’s course – if they are actively participating in the industry then their knowledge and experience is much more likely to be current, and you will know that they genuinely care about what they do.

Did you hit the jackpot first time with your course, or was there something you'd have done differently in hindsight? What were the most valuable insights your tutors gave you, and what advice would you give to other students? We like to hear your views, so please share! 


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