Moraine Valley Community College || Health Sciences || Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy—FAQ'S

What opportunities exist for massage therapists?
The possibilities for practicing massage are limited only by your imagination. As a massage therapist, you may work in chiropractic offices, physical therapy clinics, health spas or beauty salons. To minimize overhead, you may prefer to work out of your home, do house calls with a portable massage table, or on-site massage at businesses with a massage chair. You may choose to work part time, using your practice to supplement income from a full time job, or to help yourself through college. It also is possible to open your own office.

Do I need to have strong hands to be a massage therapist?
No. Proper body mechanics are emphasized so that you will be using your body weight more than your hand strength. The body mechanics you learn will be helpful in many other activities. You will be able to work without tiring yourself.

What about licensing?
Most states require formal training and successful completion of a post-graduation certification examination for entry into the field. Since January 2005, all massage therapists in Illinois are required to be licensed. Moraine Valley's Massage Therapy Program exceeds the licensing requirements and will prepare graduates for the exam.

How much is the tuition for the massage therapy program? 
See Moraine Valley's current tuition rate, plus fee and books.

Do you have a student clinic?
Yes, our students gain valuable experience working on clients right here at the college under the supervision of a faculty member. To make an appointment, please phone 708-608-4460. The days and hours of the student clinic are updated and announced on the answering machine. The fee is $20 for a 50-minute massage. You may pay by check or cash (no credit cards, please!) on the day of your massage.

How large are the classes?
The Moraine Valley Massage Therapy Program complies with the Massage Licensing Act, Sec. 1284.20-8. "The ratio of students to faculty in the lab/clinical/community area shall not exceed 20 students to 1 instructor with no more than 10 student therapists and 10 serving as clients."

What is the difference between clock hours and credit hours?
The Moraine Valley catalog (p. 156) describes how to interpret the course descriptions included in the catalog. Each course has credit hours and contact hours listed. Credit hours are how your tuition is determined. Contact hours determine how much instructional time is spent in the classroom. One contact hour is based on a 50 minute hour so every contact hour listed in the catalog equals 800 minutes of instruction.

How long is your Massage Therapy Program?
It depends on the student. If a student enters our program with all their prerequisites, it would be possible to finish in three semesters.

What is it like working in the field?
Riding a general trend toward preventive health care and stress reduction, massage therapy has become one of the country's fastest-growing occupations. In fact, massage therapists work in a variety of settings, including chiropractic offices to health clubs and luxury spas, to corporations and stand-alone private offices. Many massage therapists work in conjunction with doctors and other health care professionals in hospitals and clinical settings to help the ill and injured recuperate. Others work in airports, malls, and cruise ships. Massage therapists also work with professional athletes, with the disabled, or even with animals. The possibilities are endless!

While massage treatments are not covered under most health care plans, a growing number of health maintenance organizations are beginning to cover such services as the benefits of massage in managing conditions such as lower back pain, bursitis and arthritis have become clearer. Research has proven that massage therapy can be an effective treatment for easing migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, reducing anxiety, and alleviating the side effects of cancer treatments. To help regulate this boom in the massage world, at least 38 states and the District of Columbia now regulate and license massage therapists who demonstrate competency by challenging a national certification exam.

This occupation requires a complex set of skills-among them, superior technical skills, a soothing and reassuring manner with clients, and the ability to adhere to a high standard of confidentiality and professional ethics. Massage therapists must have a lot of business sense, since those who are self-employed must attract and maintain a client base. In addition, massage therapy is strenuous, requiring long hours of standing as well as the physical strength to perform one massage after another. If they aren't careful, it can be all too easy for massage therapists themselves to become injured and in need of a massage.

Specific tasks include:

  • Performing various types of massage techniques such as petrissage, effleurage, tapotement, compression, vibration or friction to the muscular structure or soft tissues of the human body
  • Applying oils, lotions, powders or other lubricants to clients' bodies to aid in various massage techniques
  • Applying non-forceful passive or active movement to affect the energetic systems of the body and movement re-education
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Finding new clients, marketing

What are some areas of massage specialization?
A massage therapist may specialize in a certain type of massage or in treating certain types of problems. In general, the profession seems to break down into two broad categories: "medical" massages which include sports, orthopedic, isolated stretching and neuromuscular massages and "energy" massages, which include techniques such as Reiki, therapeutic touch and polarity.
The American Massage Therapy Association Fact Sheet reports that massage therapists provide the following types of massages and the frequency of each:

  • 84% of massage therapists provide Swedish massage
  • 77% of massage therapists provide deep tissue massage
  • 49% of massage therapists provide trigger point massage
  • 45% of massage therapists provide sports massage

Massage therapists receive advanced training to work with special population groups, including, pregnant women, geriatric, chronically ill, trauma survivors, and physically challenged.

How does one advance their career in the field of massage therapy?
The first step in advancing in the field is to obtain state licensure. Illinois requires massage graduates to successfully challenge the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or the National Certification Examination or Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEX ). Illinois law requires 24 hours of continuing education every 2 years.

Does Moraine Valley offer continuing education for massage therapists?
Yes! Continuing education is offered through the college's Corporate, Community and Continuing Education Subdivision. For current programming information, contact Aurora Zwick, Program Coordinator, Community and Continuing Education at (708) 974-5741 or zwick@morainevalley.edu.

What essential functions are needed for massage therapy?

  • Manual dexterity and coordination
  • Physical strength and stamina
  • Ability to work standing for at least 2 hours at a time
  • Working well with clients
  • Listening carefully to what someone else is saying
  • Business sense
  •  Ethical behavior
  • Maintaining confidentiality Interacting appropriately with clients, peers, instructors, and physicians
  • A calm, reassuring and professional manner

Where do massage therapists work?
Massage therapists have traditionally been self-employed, but they are increasingly finding employment in spas, athletic clubs, medical clinics, chiropractor's offices, resorts, and cruise ships. Even many beauty salons are now hiring massage therapists to work in "day spas." However, those who work for someone else often maintain their own businesses on a part-time basis.

What is the job outlook?
An increasing concern for total health and wellness coupled with an expanding public interest in alternative therapies has spurred significant growth in the field of massage therapy. Contributing to this growth is the fact that many insurance companies are integrating massage therapy into their coverage. Nonetheless, this career is now becoming very competitive, because so many people are interested in becoming massage therapists. People entering the field now need very good massage skills and techniques as well as superior business and marketing skills in order to develop clientele and a successful business.

Who are the consumers of massage therapy?
Please refer to the 2012 Massage Therapy Consumer Survey Fact Sheet for a complete description.

Will I need to complete a criminal background check for this program?
Yes, in order to comply with certain state statutes and/or clinical affiliation agreements, students will be asked to successfully complete a criminal background check. Application forms for criminal background checks may be obtained through the Career Programs Subdivision Office, B150, and fees paid to the Cashier's Office. For information on criminal background application procedures, please contact the Career Programs Subdivision Office at (708) 974-5708. A satisfactorily completed criminal background check is due the first week of classes when a student is enrolled in MAS-110.