The Average American Massage Therapist Salary

Massage therapists are usually responsible for manipulating the muscles and other of the body’s soft tissues with the use of touch in such a way that they relieve pain, improve circulation, speed the healing process of injuries, increase relaxation, relieve stress, and improve the general wellbeing of their clients. So, what is the average massage therapist salary?

massage therapist salary

People with the massage therapist job description usually work a wide array of settings, like spas, hospitals, clinics, hotels, massage parlors, and fitness centers. Some massage therapists even travel to their clients’ homes to offer them their services. The services of massage therapists are so popular, in fact, that the employment rate for the occupation is expected to grow 22% by 2024.

In order to be eligible for the massage therapist salary, one must first complete a postsecondary educational program consisting of more than five hundred hours of experience and study. Plus, most states require massage therapists to be licensed or certified, although the conditions do vary from state to state.

Below, you can see a table of the hourly and yearly massage therapist salaries sorted by percentile:

Percentile 10% 25% 50%
(Median)
75% 90%
Hourly Wage $9.07 $12.19 $18.29 $27.01 $35.99
Annual Wage $18,860 $25,350 $38,040 $56,180 $74,860

Factors that Influence the Massage Therapist Salary

According to payscale.com, the massage therapist average salary in 2015 was estimated at around $41,000 per year or $19 an hour, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated it at $38,000 per year or $18.29 per hour in 2014. So, let’s take a look at what exactly influences the salary of a massage therapist.

As expected, there are quite a few factors which influence a massage therapist’s wage. While some of them are minor, and only account for pay differences of a few tens or hundreds of dollars, other factors can influence the massage therapist salary by more than $40,000.

The most important factors are the level of experience of each employee, the industry of the profession, and the physical location of each place of employment. For example, a canine or equine animal massage therapist in Canada will almost certainly make less money than a certified sport massage therapist in the United States.

Geographic area

Since each state has not only its own economy, but also its own medical and therapeutic needs, it is only natural that every state be able to offer a different massage therapist salary. Of course, the same is the case for every country, city, metropolitan, and nonmetropolitan area. However, we will only be looking at the United States massage therapist salary by state and area.

Below, you will be able to find a series of tables documenting the states and the metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas offering the highest salaries and the highest levels of employment for the profession.

If your state or area aren’t on the list, that’s no reason for envy. For example, even if Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, PA, aren’t on the list, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find a job there or that the salaries are extremely low. It just means that they aren’t among the top five.

The states offering the highest levels of employment for the occupation are as follows:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
California 14,330 0.92 1.38 $20.83 $43,330
Florida 7,410 0.94 1.40 $20.31 $42,240
Texas 5,270 0.46 0.68 $18.64 $38,770
New York 4,610 0.51 0.77 $30.28 $62,980
Colorado 4,510 1.84 2.76 $21.19 $44,080

Meanwhile, the states with the highest massage therapist salary are the following:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Alaska 700 2.14 3.20 $40.46 $84,150
New York 4,610 0.51 0.77 $30.28 $62,980
Washington 4,090 1.37 2.05 $25.86 $53,780
Vermont 340 1.12 1.67 $25.44 $52,910
Oregon 1,810 1.04 1.56 $25.30 $52,630

For those interested in more vaguely distributed information, the tables below will showcase a list of metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas with the highest salaries and levels of employment.

The metropolitan areas with the highest levels of employment for people with the massage therapist job description are the following:

Metropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division 4,050 0.99 1.48 $20.10 $41,800
New York – Jersey City – White Plains, NYC – NJ Metropolitan Division 3,540 0.55 0.82 $29.32 $60,990
Denver – Aurora – Lakewood, CO 3,300 2.40 3.59 $20.68 $43,010
Phoenix – Mesa – Scottsdale, AZ 3,150 1.68 2.51 $22.39 $46,570
Seattle – Bellevue – Everett, WA Metropolitan Division 2,450 1.59 2.39 $25.88 $53,830
Chicago – Naperville – Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division 2,230 0.62 0.93 $17.58 $36,570
Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington, MN – WI 2,080 1.11 1.66 $21.87 $45,500
Houston – The Woodlands – Sugar Land, TX 1,560 0.53 0.80 $16.69 $34,720
Las Vegas – Henderson – Paradise, NV 1,550 1.71 2.56 $13.94 $28,990
San Diego – Carlsbad, CA 1,470 1.09 1.63 $18.97 $39,450

The metropolitan areas with the highest massage therapist salary are as follows:

Metropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Fairbanks, AK 40 1.10 1.65 $42.61 $88,640
Anchorage, AK 570 3.23 4.83 $40.80 $84,870
Pittsfield, MA 70 1.81 2.71 $38.21 $79,470
Lynchburg, VA Not Released Not Released Not Released $33.78 $70,250
Kahului – Wailuku – Lahaina, HI 180 2.48 3.71 $30.72 $63,910
Cedar Rapids, IA Not Released Not Released Not Released $30.48 $63,390
Syracuse, NY 80 0.25 0.38 $30.09 $62,580
Medford, OR 80 0.99 1.49 $29.91 $62,210
New York – Jersey City – White Plains, NY – NJ Metropolitan Division 3,540 0.55 0.82 $29.32 $60,990
Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY Metropolitan Division 1,440 1.13 1.69 $29.28 $60,900

The nonmetropolitan areas offering the highest levels of employment for the profession are the following:

Nonmetropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Northwest Colorado 440 3.82 5.71 $21.49 $44,700
Hawaii / Kauai / Maui 420 4.44 6.65 $22.83 $47,490
Southeast Iowa 150 0.65 0.97 $25.42 $52,870
South Central Wisconsin 140 0.69 1.03 $15.79 $32,840
Northern Vermont 130 1.82 2.72 $23.88 $49,680

Last, but not least, the nonmetropolitan areas with the highest salaries for massage therapists are as follows:

Nonmetropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Balance of Alaska 50 0.61 0.92 $38.17 $79,390
Southeast Alaska 40 1.07 1.61 $35.78 $74,420
Southwest Washington 50 0.80 1.20 $34.89 $72,570
South Coast Oregon 40 0.60 0.90 $33.54 $69,760
Central Washington 40 1.36 2.04 $29.36 $61,080

Experience

According to payscale.com, experience is one of the most important factors when it comes to influencing the massage therapist salary. The average licensed massage therapist salary generally increases by more than $30,000 over the course of one’s career, as one crosses the twenty-year mark.

The average starting massage therapist salary is estimated at $39,000 a year. Over the course of one’s career, the salary path of a massage therapist is along the following lines:

  • From $39,000 to $43,000 over the first five to ten years of experience
  • From $43,000 to $50,000 over the first ten to twenty years of experience
  • From $50,000 to $70,000 after more than twenty years on the job

You can notice a very interesting trend in regards to how experience influences the massage therapist salary. The biggest pay raise takes place after more twenty years on the job. This means that experience is extremely valuable for the profession.

For example, a registered, self employed horse massage therapist with more than a decade in experience will most likely get a higher pay than a clinical or remedial massage therapist just starting out.

Industry

The industry is also fairly important when comes to determining the massage therapist salary range. In fact, it can lead to jumps in a pay grade of more than $20,000 a year. For example, the sports massage therapist salary will be far lower than that of someone working in a private practice or in a specialty hospital.

The industries offering the highest levels of employment for massage therapists are as follows:

Industry Employment Percent of industry employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Personal Care Services 43,070 6.49 $19.39 $40,340
Offices of Other Health Practitioners 29,970 3.72 $22.62 $47,060
Traveling Accommodations 9,020 0.48 $19.99 $41,590
Other Recreation and Amusement Industries 3,080 0.26 $20.09 $41,790
General Surgical and Medical Hospitals 820 0.02 $23.38 $48,620

Meanwhile, the industries offering the highest massage therapist salaries are the following:

Industry Employment Percent of industry employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Management of Enterprises and Companies 40 Less than .005 $31.80 $66,150
Family and Individual Services 50 Less than .005 $31.31 $65,120
Schools and Instruction Services 200 0.05 $30.26 $62,930
Home Health Care Services Not Released Not Released $26.36 $54,820
Specialty (minus Substance Abuse and Psychiatric) Hospitals 50 0.02 $25.88 $53,820

Working Hours

According to a number of statistics collected from various sources, around half of all people with the massage therapist salary worked part time back in 2014. Most of these were either self-employed or working for massage salons. If they are not self-employed, most massage therapists have working schedules dependent on their employers.

Despite this, very few massage therapists actually work eight hours a day or five days a week. The reason for this is that few people with the massage therapist salary actually have the strength or endurance to massage people constantly during a work week. The time not spent massaging is often spent washing linens, booking clients, marketing, and handling other business tasks.

Bonuses and Benefits Packages

While the massage therapist salary isn’t actually all that high, there are additional bonuses, commissions, and profit sharing which raise it by more than $30,000 a year. Bonuses can amount to slightly more than $1,000, profit sharing tends to add around $3,000, and commissions can add as much as $30,000 a year. Plus, overtimes can be paid with as much as $45 per hour, and tips are usually a wild card.

As for the benefits packages, they all depend on the place of employment. Some massage therapist salaries are accompanied by health insurance, while others also have vision and dental. However, they are pretty rare, as most employers don’t really see a reason to offer massage therapists any particular insurance.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for massage therapists is estimated to grow 22% by 2024. This is much, much faster than the average employment rate for the average of all occupations in the United States.

This is caused by several factors, such as the increased demand for massage services all over the country, the constant increase of the elderly population, the increased awareness in regards to the multiple health benefits of massages, and the high number of medical conditions and accidents resulting in the need for physical therapy.

While the massage therapist salary isn’t all that high in and of itself, the many bonuses, commissions, overtimes, and tips make the job be more than worth the time and effort. The highly optimistic job outlook and the low levels of education needed to get hired as a massage therapist also make the job one of the most coveted in the medical industry.

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