Massage Therapist Duties and Responsibilities

Duties: Provides massages (structured techniques for manipulating muscles and tissue) for clients, performed for relaxation or medical purposes

Alternate Title(s): Masseuse; Masseur

Salary Range: $20,000 to $40,000 per year and up; $16 per hour on average

Employment Prospects: Good to excellent

Advancement Prospects: Good

Best Geographical Location(s): All, particularly regions with major resorts, hotels, and spas


Education and Training — Formal schooling or training program in massage therapy

Experience — Hands-on experience in massage therapy required through school or training program

Special Skills and Personality Traits — Good communication skills; independence and flexibility; interest in working with people; some physical strength

Special Requirements — Varies by state


Spa Director or Business Owner

Massage Therapist

Massage Therapy Student or other occupation

Position Description

Have you ever received a professional massage in order to ease tension, relax, or soothe sore muscles? Massage Therapists are skilled technicians schooled in the art of manipulating muscles in a way that can reduce stress, treat ailments, or promote circulation. They provide clients with a relaxing or therapeutic experience that helps promote overall well-being.

Working by appointment, Massage Therapists see a variety of clients on any given day. Appointments are typically between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the type of massage. There are a number of different types of massage that Massage Therapists offer. Some are specialists in a particular modality only, while others are trained to perform several modalities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are over 80 different types of massage.

Types of massage include therapeutic massage, Swedish (Western) massage, Reiki, and reflexology; all require different techniques. Some Massage Therapists also specialize with certain features such as pregnancy massage, sports massage, hot stone, or aromatherapy. In most forms of massage, Massage Therapists apply pressure to different points on the body using their fingers and hands. They also knead muscles to provide the most effective stress and/or pain relief, depending on the clients’ stress zones, including the neck, shoulders, or back.

Additional duties may include:

  • promoting overall health and wellness
  • assessing the condition of clients’ muscles
  • discussing clients’ medical histories and areas of stress or pain
  • maintaining treatment records
  • developing client treatment plans
  • conferring with health professionals and referring clients for additional treatment when necessary
  • traveling to clients’ homes and offices
  • buying or selecting equipment or supplies, including pillows, tables, linens, and lotions

Massage Therapists can work in a wide variety of hospitality industry settings. They can be employed by hotels and resorts, spas, and cruise lines. Additionally, they may have the opportunity to work worldwide at these different facilities. While Massage Therapists in other settings such as hospitals or clinics might focus on injuries or therapeutic massage, in the hospitality industry most Massage Therapists strive to provide a relaxing and enjoyable experience for their clients. Facilities in spas and resorts can be quite luxurious.

A Massage Therapist may use an array of lotions and oils, scented and unscented, and use aromatherapy as one of the options. Often in massage rooms, soothing new age or classical music is playing and candles may be burning, with dim lighting. Massage Therapists may have freedom in selecting the products for their therapy room, choosing those that create the most soothing image. In some resorts, in-room massage is also an option. Massage Therapists bring materials to set up and provide massages for individuals or couples in their own room.

Many Massage Therapists work part-time or flexible schedules. Most of their time is spent standing and using their strength and technique with their hands. Because of the demanding physical nature of their work, most Massage Therapists do not work a 40-hour workweek and may consider 20 to 30 hours full time. Some work at several different spas or hotels as independent contractors. Weekend work and holiday work is typical, and some evenings may be required.