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What is a Massage Therapist?

Alaska massage therapist massaging man's shoulder

As mentioned in the introduction, massage therapy is a holistic form of healthcare that helps people feel and function better. The Alaska massage therapist manipulates skin, muscles and tissue to reduce stress and relieve tension and pain in their patients.  Swedish, or Classic Massage, is the type of massage that most people think of when discussing massage therapy, and most massage therapy schools teach it as their primary form of massage.  However, there are many other types of massage that programs may or may not include within their course of instruction.  Following are just a few examples.

    • Neuromuscular Therapy Massage
    • Deep Tissue Massage
    • Sports Massage
    • Shiatsu Massage
    • Thai Massage
    • Hot Stone Massage
    • Pregnancy Massage

Professionals that work in massage therapy in Alaska should be referred to as massage therapists. From time to time one may hear them called a masseuse or a masseur, which refers to a female or a male massage practitioner. However, these terms generally carry a negative connotation among the general public and professionals alike and should be avoided.

Massage Therapy Education Options

Most schools offering massage therapy require that the enrollee have a high school diploma or its equivalent to qualify. Programs can range in length from several months for a Certificate or a Diploma to as long as two years for an Associate’s Degree.  The lengths of the programs will also vary by State based on the number of hours required for licensing.  Another factor that may also influence the program length is whether classes are offered in Alaska during the day or in the evening.  Also, an Associate Degree in Massage Therapy may have general education requirements and are often transferable into a related Bachelor’s Degree Program.  Once you have received your Certificate or Degree, the education does not end there. The amount and type of continuing education you will need to complete will depend on the State where you are licensed.  Some states require both a certain number of hours of continuing education as well as specific education in subjects such as HIPAA compliance or ethics.

Massage Therapist Licensing

Alaska massage therapist giving foot massageOnce you have graduated from an accredited massage therapy school, you will then need to become licensed in Alaska or the State where you will be practicing.  The Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), is a test controlled and administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) and is required by most States as part of the licensing process.  Some States have their own or additional exams, so check with your State prior to enrolling in a massage therapy program.  If you do not pass the MBLEx in the first attempt, you can take it again after 30 days but must pay an additional exam fee.  Once licensed, you will need to maintain it in most states, which means paying a renewal fee and satisfying renewal requirements.  As previously mentioned, renewal typically requires a certain number of hours of continuing education be completed.  And if you should move to another State, you will need to get licensed in that new State as well. Every State regulates massage therapy differently, so it is not safe to assume that you will automatically qualify for licensing. Check with your new State before moving to confirm that you meet the requirements to legally practice there.

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