What is fair pay for massage therapy work? This is one of the biggest questions I see in our profession. Let’s get to the bottom of this!
First of all what each person needs and wants to make is different. While one therapist might require a certain amount per year to live comfortably another may be just working for extra money or to gain experience. Obviously they would have completely different perspectives of what is fair and right. We also all have different ideas of what is most important to us. Some therapists want to work straight through their shift and go home. Others, like me, NEED our breaks, especially lunch in my case. Work environment, co-workers, scheduling, freedom (ability to set your own schedule and days off), and being treated with respect are other issues that rank higher than money in a lot of cases.
Next the type of business and overhead should be considered. Do you want to work somewhere that provides a certain environment and amenities for your clients? Do you want to work at a bare minimum type of office environment? Do you want to work somewhere that bills insurance for your services? Do you want to provide all of your own supplies? Some of your supplies? Do your own marketing? Do you want to work somewhere with front desk support? That is a lot of variables! It’s easy to see how there are big differences in what therapists are paid.
Lastly, let’s be realistic. Most massage programs are around 600 hours for a diploma (yes, I know some are more). This is about the same amount of hours as an esthetics or nail tech program. Massage Therapist, Esthetician, and Nail Tech ENTRY LEVEL salaries are $15,000 – $20,000 per year. What I don’t understand is why MT’s think they are deserving of so much more income with similar levels of education.
Of course what you earn is largely up to you. There are many Massage Therapists making $40,000 per year and some even making $80,000 plus. Those therapists likely took on the risk of starting their own business and the responsibilities that go with it. Keep educating yourself, gain all the experience you can, and don’t take the first job that comes along if you don’t think it pays enough (or take it and keep looking). Make the most of the situation you are in. Reschedule your clients so that you are busy everyday. Sell upgrades of more time or enhancement services. Learn the retail products so you can recommend them. Market yourself so clients are asking for you (very valuable to a business owner). Ask what the criteria is for getting a raise. Start a business plan and start saving to open your own place. We don’t have to settle for less but we do need to know what it takes to be more, to be successful.
So, what is fair? Only you can answer that question for yourself.