Diary of a Massage Therapist: Then and Now

by Jennifer (Shaw) Bonnesi

I’m ten years into my massage career, and with each year that passes, and as my massage practice deepens, I am increasingly glad I got my massage certification. (Fellow, seasoned massage therapist, can I get an amen?)

If you are in the early stages of your career or just beginning to research the massage certification process, I hope the following encourages you.

1. Time Is Precious

Ten years ago, I had many demands on my time. Today isn’t any different.

When I first started, I had a young family, and one goal for my massage career at that time was to be as available to them as possible – especially in the evening and on weekends. My massage career allowed for that. Now, I have a “day job,” and massage fits where it can in my schedule. Often, ironically, I see clients in the evening and on weekends – occasionally, a lunch hour.

Even if you work for someone else, massage can be very flexible. I am so grateful I can make my own hours. If you are considering getting your massage certification, this is one of the biggest perks a career in massage can offer!

2. Money Does Matter

I know some people do the work for the love of it (or say they do), but money does matter to me.

When I started out, I needed to earn. In fact, I needed to maximize my income as soon as possible. Since I only had a little bit of time to work while I raised my family, I needed to make the most I could per hour without going into debt taking long trainings or investing in degree programs. And because I needed the money, I needed to do it immediately. My massage program lasted only a few months, was thousands and thousands less than nursing school and paid, with tips, anywhere from $20-75/hour.

Today, I find massage is a second source of income I often struggle to live without. My massage work is often how my family pays for birthdays, holidays and vacations, for example. It’s good in a pinch, too. If I need a boost in income before the weekend, I make sure I book a massage or two during the week.

I’m so glad I have a tool like this in my back pocket. If money matters to you, and you’d like to start earning it sooner rather than later, a certification in massage therapy could be the answer.

3. The Work Is Important

Doing work that matters to people has always been a criteria when I’ve considered my job options.

When I started out, I was determined to repair people’s aches and pains. Because I was well-trained, I had some success at it, and the impact I was able to make on my clients’ well-being was hugely rewarding.

Today, the goal of my practice has shifted toward relaxing my clients, and now, often times the work doesn’t feel like work at all. In fact, if my intention wasn’t to ease someone else’s distress, I would argue I getting just as much from giving the work as my client does receiving it.

If you are looking for a job that accommodates your schedule, maximizes your income potential, and adds meaning to your professional life, getting a certification in massage therapy could be the answer. Best of luck!

Read the other articles in the Diary of a Massage Therapist series:

Jennifer (Shaw) Bonessi is a Texas licensed massage therapist. At the time of this article, when she is not caring for her family of seven, she practices out of Studio Mantra in Austin, Texas.