Massage therapy is both a physically and mentally challenging career, albeit very rewarding. Therapists must be able to empathize with their clients, as well as provide them with hands-on treatment. The majority of massage therapists earn a living based on how many clients they see.
Therapists are typically hired as independent contractors that are paid based on a specific fee split at their clinic. For each client a massage therapist sees, their clinic will take a percentage of the revenue and the massage therapist will take the rest. This fee split is negotiated based on the services that the clinic will provide for the therapist. For example, some clinics will provide only a room for the massage therapist to treat in. In this setting, the massage therapist would be responsible for bringing a bed, linens, massage lotion, and any other supplies they may need to run an effective practice. On the other hand, some clinics will provide almost everything including a bed, linens, massage lotion, and more!
As you can imagine, this large variability in services provided by clinics can cause the range of fee splits to vary greatly depending on the place of work. When choosing a place of work, It’s important for massage therapists to consider what services are being offered in relation to the fee split of the clinic. Since massage therapists’ earnings are so dependent on how many clients they see, it can create the desire to treat as many clients as possible. While in theory this would lead to the most money earned, in reality it doesn’t work out this way. In fact, many massage therapists experience burnout within their first few years of practice because of this mentality.
As mentioned earlier, the physical and mental challenges of massage therapy should not be taken lightly. Every client will require a certain amount of physical and mental energy, and the more clients you see, the more energy will be required. Both beginner and experienced massage therapists have fallen for the trap of working more hours to make more money, but at the cost of their mental and physical health. It’s important to keep in mind that you won’t be able to help others if you’re feeling burnt out and fatigued yourself.
As such, it’s important to find a good work life balance. Every person will be different in regards to how many clients they can see comfortably without experiencing burnout, but in general massage therapists cannot work a typical 40 hour work week.
At Strive Physiotherapy, we typically have our new massage therapists start out treating around 5 hours per day to allow their body to adjust to the demands of massage therapy. Once you’ve started there, it allows plenty of room to slowly increase your hours or treatments as tolerated. It’s more efficient to start with less hours or treatments and slowly build up than it is to accidentally do too much too soon and burnout early on. Furthermore, it’s important to consider how long your treatment sessions are, as well as how much break time you’re getting in between clients.
Many massage therapists at other clinics will treat clients back to back without a break in between. While this may go well some days, it may not work so well if two long massage treatments are booked back to back. For example, if you’re doing two 90 minute massages in a row, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll be physically and mentally drained by the end of it. At Strive Physiotherapy, we ensure our massage therapists have at least a 15 minute break in between every client to allow for recovery. With these techniques, it allows our massage therapists to learn what volume of treatment feels best for their bodies while still making a good income.
In conclusion, remember that your own health is the most important thing at the end of the day. Although your wage will be dependent on the number of clients you treat, keeping your body healthy is the only true way to success. Start out with less hours and build your way up, be sure to take breaks in between clients, and make self care a top priority outside of the clinic. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, getting outside, exercising, and maintaining a social life. When in doubt, always listen to your body!
Still not sure what to expect with massage therapy? Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on www.strivept.ca to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists, and they will be sure to help you understand your injury.
Physiotherapist at Strive Physiotherapy and Performance