Growing demand for massage therapists means Sacramento jobs

Massage therapy is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world of health and wellness.

Globally, the health and wellness market is worth $3.4 trillion, with spa services growing by 58 percent from 2007 to 2013, according to a study by the Global Spa and Wellness Summit. In the United States, massage therapy is one of the most rapidly expanding fields. It's expected to expand by 23 percent from 2012 to 2022, adding roughly 30,000 jobs in that time.

In Sacramento, it's clear that the massage therapy field has worked out all its kinks. National chain Massage Envy has grown to 22 locations in Greater Sacramento in the past nine years and employs 450 massage therapists. Even so, regional development director Sherif Boctor said it's hard keeping up with the demand.

"We could literally -- if we had 100 massage therapists available and ready to work tomorrow, between the [22] locations -- we could probably hire all of them, without much effort," Boctor said.

But, Massage Envy isn't alone in its search for qualified massage therapists.

"We get calls every day at the school from employers who need massage therapists," National Holistic Institute's Sara Frazier said. "We hear from chiropractors, we hear from spas, we hear from physical therapists, sports therapy clinics, so there is an amazing amount of opportunity."

In California, massage therapists need at least 500 hours of hands-on education and are required to pass an exam in order to be licensed by the California Massage Therapy Council. Industry professionals said higher standards are making people take massage therapy more seriously.

"You used to hear the term 'masseuse.' This is not your grandfather's masseuse," Boctor explained. "This is a wellness career. This is about somebody who wants to step in and really impact people's lives for the long term."

In this camp is Carrington College student Shayne Baker. Baker, who served for nine years in the Air Force, said he always liked the idea of massage therapy.

"It was always something that kind of interested me -– making someone feel better with something as easy as touching them," Baker said.

Students like Baker, looking to change fields, are far from unique in massage therapy.

"We have people who come right out of high school, we have people who this is their second or even their third career choice, and they're coming back to school," Carrington College's Courtney Payton said. "I think one thing they all have in common is they are hands-on learners."

Another thing they have in common? They're looking for stable careers, flexible hours -- and good pay.

"Starting out, I don't see anything less than $15 an hour as a starting rate, not including tips, and we see anything up to about $30 to $50 an hour on the high end at high-end spas," Frazier said.


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