As massage therapists, what motivates us to work?

It’s not always purely about the money.

But as a massage therapist you probably already knew that. Some of you may even have a deep-down aversion to what “money” represents.

Most successful entrepreneurs say their passion comes from the solid sense of purpose they have to build something meaningful and lasting.

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely also argues that *acknowledgment * drives us to work. The harder the task and the effort we poured in, the prouder we are of our work. Thus, we become happier when people recognize our hard work. For us massage therapists this could be represented by our existing clients referring us to their friends and families - giving us social recognition and authority.

“We usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that we probably add all kinds of things to it: meaning, creation, challenges, ownership, identity, pride, etc.,” Ariely says.

In this caring field, we have chosen to thrive and build a career in, it pays to check on the progress we can make; emotionally, physically and financially.

The good news: our skills as massage therapists come with a price, a very good one at that. Here are some relevant figures that add financial value to an already meaningful profession.

Ted Talk: What makes us feel good about our work

Massage Therapist Salary Figures and Statistics

  • The estimated median annual salary wage for massage therapists is $39,860 – according to the 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

  • 73% of massage therapists prefer to work in private practice. They earn around $47 an hour for roughly 15 hours a week.

  • According to Payscale, an entry-level Massage Therapist (less than 5 years experience) takes home a total annual compensation of $38,000

Those with mid-career experience (5 to 10 years) can expect to earn $42,000 of annual therapy salary. Experienced Massage Therapist (10 to 20 years of practice) can expect to earn an average total compensation of $48,000.

The most experienced massage therapists can earn up to $54,000 and up a year. (I know several who make between $80K and $100K).

  • The American Massage Therapy Association, however, reduces the annual income of the massage therapist (including tips) to $25,539 only in 2016. Eighty-two, 82% of massage therapists started practicing massage therapy as a second career and 49% have other jobs.

  • Massage Therapists rank #5 in Best Health Care Support Jobs.

Where the Highest Pays are

While experience and skills play a crucial factor in gauging therapist salary, where we perform our massage and bodywork also matters to our pay.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the top 5 highest salary earners are in:


Massage therapists have many options to choose when it comes to facilities: personal care services, health clinics, hotels, but most prefer to build their own practice. Of course, that earning potential is largely dependent on how we build a large client base.

At the higher-end of the spectrum, massage therapists who sit in the 90% percent range have been able to earn more than $74,870 annually according to the same report.

Do you want to increase that to $85,110 a year? Try relocating to Alaska.

New York massage therapists earn almost $62,270 a year, with those from Vermont not earning far behind with an average income of $57,260 a year.

If you want to move elsewhere, check out 25 of the best states for massage therapists so you can consider where the job pays more.

Job Prospects in the future

The stress rate of the population is foreseen to grow in the next years.

There is an ever-growing demand to relax and seek out treatments from massage therapists.

This means the stressed demographic can offer more job opportunities for massage therapists. A therapist salary increase is also possible based on a 22% growth in employment projected for the 7 year period between 2014 and 2024.


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Massage Therapists,

How to Stand out in the Competition

Experience will always play a factor in salary and career advancement. So make sure you stay curious and keep learning as your practice matures!

Some people choose to get a degree or specialize in a particular type of massage therapy practice. There is also an option to learn many medical-complementary massage techniques from recognized facilities. After all, we’re all trying to have the field of traditional western medicine take us more seriously.

While learning new trends and being skilled is essential don’t forget to go back to the purpose of massage - to help and to heal.

If your heart and mind are in the right place, so will your purpose be, the money will come along.

To increase your probability of success and accelerate the smooth growth of your practice, don’t forget to leverage the software tools MassageBook’s practice management software and marketing automation solution provides for massage therapists. Visit us for more hard-to-find information.