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Success within a massage business is not based on hands-on skills alone. There are many other factors that go into your success on the job. If you want to get ahead at work, you've got to have a plan to get there.
Have you ever taken a position with a massage employer, not truly understanding how you're paid or the value of your benefits? Has your employer charged you for something you questioned was legal or not? Have you ever been told that you'll make your service pay + tips, or minimum wage, whichever is greater? It happens more than you think.
Most therapists are groomed by massage schools to work in the franchise environment, but, this isn't your only option to gain experience. You can go straight into your own business upon graduation or explore a range of other career paths in integrative health clinics, chiropractic offices, hospitals, day spas, hotel & resort spas, gyms, mobile massage, cruise ships and more! Career options are practically unlimited in massage therapy.
After a few years, you might transition into education, lead or management positions, become a CE provider, or even open your own spa, clinic, or school. You may even decide you'd rather work with animals and do that instead. Knowing the pros & cons and business models of each type of employer can help you decide which works best for you.
As a new employee, you need to read over the terms and conditions of your employment and understand anything you sign thoroughly. You may end up having to sign an Independent Contractor agreement, a Non-Disclosure a Non-Compete agreement, or other types of employment agreements and acknowledgements.
It's imperative that you know what you're signing up for and what the terms and conditions of your job really are so you're not surprised later. Read all new hire paperwork thoroughly and ask questions if you don't understand.
Being a great massage therapist means having impeccable skills in building quick rapport with your clients, presenting your knowledge and findings, creating treatment plans, rebooking, upgrading, and discussing home care.
You also need to know how to navigate touchy subjects, set and hold boundaries, and respond to different types of emotions that can come up before, during, or after sessions. Your tableside manner needs to be on point.
As a massage therapist in the workplace, you may be apprehensive about reporting issues or employer violations at work. You may be in a position where you need to keep your job above all else, so, you let things go that should be getting handled. Don't do it! Issues need to be tackled as soon as they come up.
It's important to know what your resources are when it comes to all sorts of issues - everything from health and safety violations, to workplace grievances, to sexual harassment, discrimination, wage violations, mistreatment, and more. Join USOLMT to get resources for all of these situations and more.
As a massage therapist, you are at risk for injury on the job due to repetitive motion, muscle strains and sprains, excessive pressure on your joints, heat-related injury, allergic reactions from products used, and other types of on-the-job injury like exposure to bloodborne and infectious pathogens, injury from moving equipment like hydraulic tables, burns from hot tools, slips & falls, etc. You must understand how to report an injury, how to file for worker's comp, and what the process looks like. Don't suffer in silence!
The business you work for may not be owned or managed by massage therapists. This often makes work difficult because they don't understand what it's like to be a massage therapist or the things you go through personally and professionally due to your job. Some businesses misclassify employees to avoid paying taxes. For your own protection, you need to know how to organize with your coworkers and create change in your workplace. The more you do this, the more our industry improves for the next generation of employees.
Do you know what your rights are in the workplace? It's important that you understand your rights, especially when it comes to your wages, sick leave, family and medical leave, personal time off, break times, what you can and can't do or say in the workplace, disability, etc. Every state is different and has it's own set of rights for workers. There are also federal rights that apply to all workers.
Over 80% of massage therapists are women. Massage therapy is a profession that generally accepts tips and/or gratuity, often pays on commission or piece work for services, and accepts independent contract work.
All of these facts make massage therapy a profession that is at-risk and vulnerable to exploitation. It's important to understand the facts so that you don't get taken advantage of at work by a dishonest, unethical massage employer looking for loopholes in the law or worse.
As a massage therapist, taking care of yourself is your number one job. You will find it very difficult to take care of others when you are not in a good work environment or the demands are too high.
Your safety and security should always be your employer's number one priority. You need to know what to do if you find that isn't the case - for example - your employer rebooks a client with you or one of your coworkers after you've voiced that you're uncomfortable because the client kept taking off their draping and exposing themselves to you. You must, above all else, understand how to protect yourself at work and take responsibility for your own safety and security.
You never know what you're getting into with a massage employer these days, and we're here to change that!