Success in massage school not only means you learned how to give a good massage, but that you also understand how the human body works, what pains it and how it can heal through massage therapy. Also, since just about anyone is eligible to attend massage school, success during the education process also will mean your understanding and skills surpass the abilities of many other licensed massage therapists in the job market. Despite this, many massage school students find getting the most out of their education is harder than expected – but also that their hard work pays off in the future.
To get everything you can out of your massage school experience, practice these steps.
1. Be Prepared: Know what to expect. Massage school is not like high school. It is not a typical trade school. And it is not like college. In addition to required course hours and lectures and hands-on work, massage school also requires professionalism, intuition, experimentation, dedication and practice, practice, practice. When you register for classes, be sure you understand how the program works, and review your school’s student handbook to understand what is expected of you while in class.
It’s also a good idea to talk to existing licensed massage therapists about their experiences in massage school. Don’t just ask what they loved about it. Be sure to ask what caught them off guard, or what they felt unprepared for. Then make yourself ready!
This practice of preparation will serve you well not only in future job interviews, but also as you design massage sessions for your future clients.
2. Keep Balanced: Since massage school is both physically and intellectually demanding, it is important to keep mentally and physically healthy while in school. It is not uncommon for massage school students to be overwhelmed by project deadlines or practical tests and forget to take care in their personal lives and with their whole, personal wellness. Also in massage therapy, your body and mind are your tools, they are how you are able to perform your craft. They need to serve you well.
Furthermore, as a licensed massage therapist, whether you like it or not, you will often find yourself in the position of a “healthy lifestyle role model” to your clients. Practicing this lifestyle, which is often little more than a balancing act, while in massage school will help you transition into your professional role as a well-balanced, massage therapist.
3. Prioritize & Strategize: Can you identify what is most important in your life? Spending time on the things that matter most is not only a good life skill, it will also serve you in massage school. Do you need to take care of a looming work assignment or study for a looming anatomy test first? Is there any give on either deadline? If you have to get them both done, how are you going to make that happen? Is there anyone who can help? Be ready to get creative. Since most massage school students also often work or participate in other educational programs while in school, these issues are bound to come up.
When you have multiple roles, whether you also have to answer the phones and check out clients or address a chronic neck problem and a new issue with a foot in one session plus your non-work-life, there will always be more than one thing demanding your attention. Knowing what is most important will help you maintain your professionalism while getting things done.
4. Go, go, go: As with any educational program, being on-time and having good attendance is key to getting the most you can out of massage school. In massage school, each class and its assignments often builds on the next. Missing classes can cause you to fall more than anticipated – perhaps months to a year – since massage therapy licensure often requires a certain amount of hours taken in each subject. If your massage program, for example, only offers one program at a time or offers only one daytime class and one evening class, making up classes can often be daunting.
Professionally, licensed massage therapists are not only expected to be punctual but also have time in advance to prepare for their first appointment. So many massage therapists will tell you the appointment begins 30 minutes before the client even arrives! Similarly, it is important to not miss work frequently. A massage therapist who doesn’t show up to work on time or with consistency will not gain favor with front desk staff and managers who have to scramble to cover or reschedule clients.
Even massage therapists who are self-employed are accountable to their clients – a tardy or “missing-in-action” massage therapist does not keep clients, get referrals and grow their business.
5. Pour Yourself Into It: Name, if you can, something in life to which this statement does not apply: you will get out of it what you put into it. Massage school is not an exception. You will get out of massage school what you put into it. For this reason, go beyond what you are doing or asked to do and pour yourself into your class work. Investigate interesting topics you learn about in class, consider massage modalities you might be interested, get regular massage yourself, learn the history and follow massage industry trends. Reading current journals, articles and magazines during school will give you added insight into the curriculum that other students will not have. It will also give you a more comprehensive understanding of the material you are covering.
After massage school, pouring yourself into this work keep you a step ahead of your peers in the massage industry. Managers and clients, alike, will recognize not only your skill but knowledge, and both will set you a part.
So massage school isn’t like any other education program you’ve participated in? You can do it! In massage school, you can learn how to give a good massage and be successful in business. Just practice these steps – prepare, stay balanced, prioritize, show up and be passionate – and your effort will show. Good luck, future massage therapists!