Massage Therapy Fact Sheet
Massage therapy is a highly rewarding career that uses practical application of the sciences, enlivened by the creativity of the healing arts.
NHITA equips graduates to be successful and competitive in this growing health care profession with a thorough and knowledgeable education.
The following is a compilation of data gathered by the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) from U.S. government statistics, surveys of consumers and massage therapists and recent clinical studies on the efficacy of massage. These data provide an overview of the current state of the massage therapy profession, public and medical acceptance of the value of massage and increasing consumer usage of massage therapy in the U.S.
Massage Therapy Industry Facts
- In 2005, massage therapy was projected to be a $6 to $11 billion a year industry.(1)
- AMTA estimates that in 2010, massage therapy was a $12-17 billion industry.(2)
- According to the U.S. Department of Labor in 2010, employment for massage therapists is expected to increase 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than average for all occupations.(3)
- Between July 2009 and July 2010, roughly 48 million adult Americans (18 percent) had a massage at least once.(4)
Massage Therapy Career Facts
- In 2010, the average annual income for a massage therapist who provides approximately 15 hours of massage per week was estimated to be $31,980, compared to $37,123 for 2009.(6)
- While massage therapists work in a variety of work environments, sole practitioners account for the largest percentage of practicing therapists (65 percent). Thirty-nine percent work at least part of their time at a client's home/business/corporate setting or their home, 26 percent in a spa setting and 25 percent in a healthcare setting.(5)
Who Gets Massage, Where and Why?
- In July 2010, 40 percent of adult Americans said they had at least one massage in the last five years to reduce stress or relax—up from 22 percent reported in 2007.
- Of the people who had at least one massage in the last five years, 31 percent reported they did so for health conditions such as pain management, injury rehabilitation, migraine control, or overall wellness.
Massage And Healthcare
Healthcare providers promoted the benefits of massage to their patients slightly less in 2010.
- In July 2010, over thirty-nine million American adults (16 percent) had discussed massage therapy with their doctors or health care providers, compared to 18 percent in 2009.(4)
- Nearly three quarters of massage therapists (73 percent) indicate they receive referrals from health care professionals, averaging 1.5 referrals per month.
Massage therapists and consumers favor integration of massage into healthcare.
- More than half of adult Americans (58 percent) would like to see their insurance cover massage therapy.(4)
- The vast majority of massage therapists (96 percent) believe massage therapy should be considered part of the health care field.(5)
Massage Therapy Research
The therapeutic benefits of massage continue to be researched and studied. Recent research has shown the effectiveness of massage for the following conditions:
- Cancer-related fatigue.(7)
- Low back pain.(8)
- Osteoarthritis of the knee.(9)
- Reducing post-operative pain.(10)
- Boosting the body's immune system functioning.(11)
- Decreasing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.(12)
- Lowering blood pressure.(13)
- Reducing headache frequency.(14)
- Easing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.(15)
- Decreasing pain in cancer patients.(16)
- Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2004) National Health Expenditure Projections 2004-2014.Barnes P, Powell-Griner E, McFann K, Nahin R. CDC Advance Data Report #34.
- Data compiled by American Massage Therapy Association 2009.
- U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook
- 2010 and 2009 AMTA Consumer Surveys
- 2010 AMTA Industry Survey
- AMTA Consumer Surveys 2003-2010
- Currin, J. Meister, E.A. (2008) A hospital-based intervention using massage to reduce distress among oncology patients. Cancer Nurs. 31(3):214-21. (link)
- Preyde M. (2003) Effectiveness of massage therapy for subacute low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Soft Tissue Manipulation, 8, 4-10.
- Perlman AI, Sabina A, Williams AL, Njike VY, Katz DL. (2006) Massage Therapy for Osteoarthritis of the Knee. Arch Intern Med. 166(22):2533-8.
- Piotrowski, M., Paterson, C., Mitchinson, A., Kim, H. M., Kirsh, M., Hinshaw, D. B. (2003) Massage as Adjuvant Therapy in the Management of Acute Postoperative Pain: A Preliminary Study in Men. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 197(6), 1037-1046.
- Rapaport, M. H., Schettler, P., Bresee, C. (2010) A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(10), 1-10.
- Field, T., Diego, Miguel, Cullen, Christy, Hartshorn, Kristin, Gruskin, Alan, Hernandez-Reif, Maria, Sunshine, William. (2004). Carpal tunnel
syndrome symptoms are lessened following massage. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 8:9-14. (link)
- Hernandez-Reif M, Field T, Krasnegor J, Theakston H, Hossain Z, Burman I (2000). High blood pressure and associated symptoms were reduced by massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 4, 31 - 38.
- Quinn C, Chandler C, Moraska A. Massage Therapy & Frequency of Chronic Tension Headaches. (2002) American Journal of Public Health. 92(10):1657-61
- Reader M, Young R, Connor JP. (2005) Massage therapy improves the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. J Altern Complement Med. 11(2):311-3. PMID: 15865498.
- American College of Physicians. (2008) Massage Therapy May Have Immediate Positive Effect On Pain And Mood For Advanced Cancer Patients. Science Daily 16 September. (link)