Compiling Data from the AMTA’s and ABMP’s 2010 Massage Therapy Fact Sheets: Money and Massage Therapists

Last week we looked at the ABMP’s and the AMTA’s fact sheets for 2010 (click here and here) and found that the industry is a multi-billion-dollar one that is growing quickly in the amount of money it generates per year. We also looked at data suggesting that a sizable number of businesses and individuals receive massage therapy on an annual basis.

This data and its portrayal of the massage therapy industry make it easy to understand why massage therapy is an increasingly popular career choice. But, as we’ll see, a closer look at the data shows an industry that is hardly a slam-dunk financial windfall for its practitioners.

A cursory look at the figures point to an opposite conclusion, that massage therapy is an incredibly high-paying profession. Indeed, the ABMP and the AMTA both estimate that the average massage therapist makes between $60 to $65 for an hour-long massage therapy appointment, and, according to the AMTA, a majority of therapists want no more working hours than they already have.

That makes it seem like massage therapists have all the $60-per-hour appointments they want, and, as we have written before, this portrayal of the data seems a little counter-intuitive (click here). Moreover, the AMTA brags that massage therapists make $37,123 a year (much more than other, similar professions), which, at an hourly rate of $60, means an average therapist works under 12 hours per week.

This seems highly doubtful, and, in fact, the ABMP paints a much different picture (click here) stating that as of 2007 massage therapists made, on average, $17,750 per year; the report by the ABMP goes on to state that the Bureau of Labor Statistics credits massage therapists with an average yearly income of $34,900, but arrives at that calculation by taking the average hourly rate a massage therapist earns ($16.78 – not $60) and multiplying that rate by a full work week.

Obviously it is difficult to compile and analyze industry data, and the same goes for reaching a conclusion of what is the income and financial well-being of an ‘average’ therapist. But it seems to me that the industry fact sheets and the people who read them would be better served with an equal amount of attention given to the lower hourly and yearly earning rates ($16.78/hr and $17,750/yr) as is given to the more positive averages ($60/hr and $37,123/yr).

Let us know what you think about this in the comments section. Also, look for our entry next week analyzing something both the fact sheets do extremely well: Highlighting the therapeutic qualities of massage therapy.

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