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Is the life of a massage therapist's career really only 8 years?

Closeup hourglass clock on light blue background

Reports vary but word on the street is that the average career for a massage therapist lasts anywhere between 5-8 years! There's no doubt this is a seriously depressing stat! Looking at this figure it's easy to jump to the conclusion that after paying for training, equipment, and giving your time and your energy a career in massage therapy wouldn't be a great return on your investment!

But there are ways to take care of yourself, avoid burnout and enjoy a longer more fulfilling career.

So lets first look at why massage therapists burn out before seeing how you can ensure a long and happy career in the massage industry!


Facebook post from Mandi Parker about the average life span of a massage therapy career


Why do so many massage therapists burn out? 

It's true that setting off for a career in massage therapy will be a tough journey, especially if you are intending on working for yourself. But there are two themes that regularly crop up when looking at why massage therapists quit; financial strain and physical and emotional burnout.  


Facebook post from Morgan Lewis about burning out from her career in massage therapy


But a career in massage therapy can be extremely rewarding! Not just in terms of what you give to your clients but also in the freedom it can offer, both in terms of the flexibility of working schedule and the ability to work from home. 

So how can you take care of yourself and prolong your massage therapy career? 

As Mandi mentioned above the first and most crucial step is to take care of your body mechanics. There are also many great courses available that promote hands free techniques, reducing the impact on your hands which can aid substantially in lengthening your career in massage. Another great way to protect your hands and maintain your massage therapy career is to integrate a tool into your treatments. This inexpensive thumb saver tool is great for trigger point therapy and working out your client's knots whilst reducing the strain on your thumb! 


Facebook post from Tracy Baker about firing vampire clients


Nothing can drain a business more than bad clients! Setting clear boundaries with your clients is vital to maintaining a healthy career. You want to attract clients who respect the hours you want to work, the fee that you charge and that you need to take time off for a holiday or when you are sick. The time and energy used up chasing payments, answering requests for discounts or handling rude or abusive behaviour can brew into a situation that could end your career in massage therapy. Do you find yourself dreading seeing a particular client? Read here to find out when it's time to protect your massage therapy business and say goodbye to your nightmare customers. 

 Facebook post from Kristy Kelly about scheduling treatments for the week


As in any small business it's crucial to schedule your time smartly as a massage therapist. It is one of the great benefits of working in our industry that we can have the flexibility to work our treatments around other commitments such as childcare, looking after elderly relatives or even the activities we enjoy, such as going to the gym or an art class. However, as we have seen already, many therapists find their schedules in a constant state of feast or famine, leading to frustration, financial insecurity and eventually burnout. Read here how one simple scheduling trick can transform your diary and lead to a more fulfilling career in massage. 


Facebook post from Miranda Jo about getting regular treatments as a massage therapist


It is one of the greatest ironies that as massage therapists we often neglect to get  massages ourselves but it is crucial for a variety of reasons to schedule in regular treatments. Massage swaps can be a great way to network with other massage therapists in your area whilst undertaking some much needed self care! After all it is hard to convince clients of the benefits of massage if we don't practice what we preach! 

 Facebook post from Rachael Orme about learning new skills to keep the passion for massage therapy


Another important aspect of maintaining a happy and healthy career in massage therapy is to keep your passion alive through regular CPD. Not only is this important to keep your skills up to date and a great way to demonstrate your professionalism to clients, it also helps to reignite the passion for your career. Setting yourself a new challenge is a great way to avoid becoming repetitive and will impress your clients who will no doubt find your enthusiasm infectious!   


Facebook post from Alfred Westlake about upgrading to an electric massage table to prolong your career


When the time is right for your massage therapy business, investing in an electric massage table will aid immensely in keeping your body mechanics working well during treatments. Electric massage tables make it much easier to adjust clients to the correct height for you to deliver an amazing treatment without straining your body.  


 Facebook post from Anna Ramsby-Thrower about training in Thai Massage to maintain a healthy career as a massage therapist


Exploring different modalities that require less pressure can be a way to help prolong your career in massage therapy. Relying solely on deep tissue techniques can burn you out physically much faster and isn't necessary to deliver an amazing massage treatment. Some massage therapists also combine their treatments with other less demanding therapies like hot stone treatments or beauty treatments such as facials to keep their books filled up without putting a massive strain on their bodies. 


 Facebook post from Destiny Lehew about taking proper holidays as a massage therapist


Taking regular breaks in any career is crucial to avoiding burnout. This is another important boundary to establish with clients who, if reasonable, will totally understand the need to get away and take a few weeks to recharge properly. If you are finding that you are extremely burnout and in need of a longer break, then rather than quitting massage therapy, look to take a sabbatical. You can tell your clients you are going away for a couple of months on a training course, recharge or recover from a medical condition and make sure you already have their next few treatments booked in for your return. Many therapists have found that this technique saved then from leaving the industry all together and that all their clients were happy to wait rather than going through the inconvenience of finding another therapist and some where even impressed at the level of dedication to training and providing a top massage treatment.  

If you really feel you are heading towards a place where you can no longer work with clients directly this doesn't mean you need to leave the industry entirely. Take time to think, are there other ways you can serve the industry? Perhaps you could seek out a role as a teacher at an established school or look to set up a training school of your own? Maybe you could help out at an association or set up a blog sharing your experiences and offering your consultation services to newbie therapists! 

How long have you been in the massage therapy industry? How do you protect yourself and your career? Let us know in our Facebook thread

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