ABMP Massage Profession Metrics: The Growth, and Decline, of Massage School Enrollment (Part II)

Last week we wrote about the ABMP Massage Profession Metrics, and their impressive set of data that document the incredible rise, and recent decline, of massage school enrollees and graduates. Interestingly, and as we ended last week’s posting on, while the number of massage schools rose dramatically along with the steep rise in the number of students attending massage school, the number of massage schools continued to rise from 2004 to 2009 while the number of massage students declined over the same time frame.

We speculated that the relative inexpensiveness of attending massage therapy school would continue due to the decreasing number of students in massage therapy school and an increasing number of schools to choose from. The ABMP provides its own analysis of the data as well, which points to some interesting conclusions about the massage therapy education industry and its institutions.

First, the ABMP notes that large schools dominate the massage education industry, with one-fourth of the 1,568 state-approved schools operating in 2009 accounting for over 70 percent of the year’s graduates. The second quartile of schools – when ordering schools by their number of students – provided nearly 20 percent of the graduates, meaning that half of the massage schools provided 90.5 percent of the graduates in 2009.

This would suggest that larger vocational schools like Everest College are taking business from the more traditional, smaller and specialized massage therapy schools. However, the ABMP notes that the top 125 largest institutions are actually losing ground in their hold of the enrollment market share (so maybe students are spurning larger schools for smaller, stand-alone institutions). The incredible growth in the number of massage schools, meanwhile, has “inevitably required the hiring of a disproportionate number of rookie instructors,” according to the ABMP data.

What do you think? Are there too many massage schools in operation today? Is the quality of instruction suffering as a result? Is a quality education in massage therapy more available now than it was in 1998, when just over 600 schools were in operation nationwide? Is education for massage therapists at least more affordable now than it was in 1998? Let us know what you think in the comments section and feel free to point us to more data and resources that could help us answer these questions effectively.

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