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14 Mar 2018

Is a career as a massage or holistic therapist really for you?

Have you been dreaming about becoming a massage or holistic therapist?  Maybe you are bored in your current job and fancy a change…Or you wish you were doing work that helped others. You could just be fed up with being stuck at a desk all day.

Whatever your reason for wanting to become a  therapist, a career in massage or holistics can be a wonderful thing. You are your own boss. You set your own hours and work when you want to. You are making a living doing something you love – bringing relaxation to appreciative people and helping them out of pain. It’s rewarding and fulfilling work.

However, it can also be frustrating and can feel very lonely when the bills are piling up and you aren’t getting any clients in. You can feel overwhelmed and wonder if you should just give up.

Here at Orchid Massage Academy, we want our students to sign up to our professional diploma courses for the right reasons. So if you think you’d like to become a therapist, here are some things to think about before you start:

Many people are attracted to the idea of a career in massage by a calculation that goes something like this: A massage therapist is charging £40 an hour for a treatment. £40 x 7 is £280. £280 per day!! Multiplied by 5 is £1,400 (a week!) multiplied by 4 is £5,600 (a month!) multiplied by 12 is £67,200 (a year!). Wow.

Sorry to disappoint, but in reality, this is not how it goes. As a self-employed massage or holistic therapist it’s practically impossible to do 7 treatments every day. Regardless of having to find that many clients, being a therapist can be hard, physical work and emotionally draining  – you may only have the energy to see 4 or 5 people a day. You also need to consider the other jobs that need doing to keep your business ticking over: the room preparation, the admin, the laundry for each client. And that’s before you consider marketing, IT, accountancy, stock control and the million and one other things that are part of running your own business. It is more realistic to think that for every one hour treatment you get paid for, there is also one unpaid hour of work that needs doing. We find that realistically, if you are working for yourself, managing to fit in around 8 – 15 clients a week is the norm.

There may be a few therapists who are treating 8 clients a day, but they are the exception and not the rule and they are usually not making their money just by treating clients but have diversified and are also selling related products or are running a clinic and employing other therapists.

Building your client base
You might find that at the beginning you want work in a spa, hotel or clinic, as these jobs can be great to gain experience when you’re starting out. But you’ll be working for someone else, usually will be expected to do a lot of treatments in a day and the money isn’t great.

So, you will probably prefer to establish yourself as an independent professional and build your own client base. This takes time, patience and determination. You can’t just rely on your family and friends so you have to let people know that you’re there, let them know who you are and what it is that you offer, what it is that makes you unique.

You can expect that during your first 2 to 3 years after your initial qualification, you will have a limited income from treatments and you will be spending quite a lot of time and effort promoting yourself as you attempt to become established.

This means you have to be committed. Putting in long hours for not much reward can be disheartening unless you are organised and patient and committed to what you’re doing. You also need to be prepared to commit to a place for a while. If you keep moving around you won’t give yourself the best chance of building up that client base

Becoming a successful massage or holistic therapist is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight as soon as you finish your Diploma course.  Getting qualified is just the first step. As it takes time to build your business, so it takes time to develop your skills. The more you practice, the more different clients you work with, the more post-graduate training you do, the better therapist you will become. It’s about growing all the time. Growing your business and growing yourself as a therapist. It’s important to accept this so that you can settle into the process and enjoy it unfolding. You shou always want to be learning more.

Those who tend to succeed as massage therapists have usually gone into it because they love it, they want to help people and they have qualities of determination, patience and organisation as well as good massage skills.

If you think this is you then there is no reason why you shouldn’t make a great success of your new career.

Welcome to the wonderful world of massage and holistic therapies. We wish you good luck!

If you have any questions about whether a career in massage or holistic therapies is right for you, do drop us a line at [email protected]With many years experience under our collective belts, we know the industry inside out and are always happy to give advice

By Jo Cowen

Adapted from ‘Massage – A Career At Your Fingertips’ by Martin Ashley.