What’s Better? Self-Employment vs. Getting a Massage Job
A massage job, often massage jobs, or self-employment, I’ve done them both. But what’s better? Obviously, the answer depends completely on you – your needs and goals, your dreams – but I’d like to share my experience with you in an effort to shed some light on this debate. As someone who has a private practice, you may be surprised with what I have to say.
If we’re honest, most of us are in this industry to have control over our finances or time – and if you’re more altruistic than I am, even over the value of the services we provide – or all three! And self-employment with a private massage practice is key to meeting that need for control.
I went to massage school to work for myself. With young children, I needed to maximize my income and work as little as possible. Though I loved massage and moving and serving others, love for the work as a provider came later. I incentivized my internship clients to follow me into the real world, graduated from massage and started the rough road to earning money for myself.
Though it is a rough road, seven years later, I now have just the number of clients I want, make an income that serves me and have control over my finances, time and quality of the services and work I offer. It is very rewarding, and I can’t imagine going back to my “old life.”
Currently, I do not have any massage jobs. Self-employment is working really well for me. But this hasn’t always been the case, and I know this won’t always be true, either.
I’ll tell you why…
One Reason Every LMT Should Get a Massage Job
I believe every new and experienced massage therapist, both, need a massage job at least once, if not repeatedly, throughout their massage career.
You don’t know it all.
Five years after becoming a licensed massage therapist, I took a part-time position at local Massage Heights, providing therapeutic touch 20 hours per week to, usually, 20 different bodies with different needs. I went through internship in massage school just like the rest of you, and thought I was well-prepared for this industry. Until then.
After I graduated from massage school, I launched right into a private massage practice. That was the whole reason I went to massage school – I wanted to work for myself when I wanted to work. And I did. I provided your basic massage session to anyone who came looking for one while I worked a “day job.” But because I was just starting out, my clients were few in number and frequency, and as a result, the experience I had been building on during my internship stalled-out in the real world.
The lesson I learned? When it comes to being a competent massage therapist, running a private massage practice, which includes marketing, billing and scheduling, does not compare to just doing massage over and over and every day.
You can memorize human anatomy and physiology – it is finite. Eventually, though daunting for most of us, we can learn it all! But without hands-on experience, without first-hand knowledge of how a body responds to therapeutic touch, you haven’t learned how to be a massage therapist. Not really.
Massage chains can support your learning and gaining of experience to you better than any other employer – including you. Finding clients, bodies for you to work on, is what they do best. And there are always massage jobs with a massage chain.
In the end, remember massage is called a practice. After the classes and the internship hours are over, and when your state-issued massage license is in-hand, there is still a long road ahead. Use the tools available in this industry to get your hands on as many bodies as possible. And while you’re at it, build that private practice you started out to create. You’ll never be done learning, so there’s no reason not to start now!