Massage Therapist

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2019: 10,001 to 25,000
Median weekly earnings: $1051 to $1300
Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
People from all walks of life are discovering the beneficial effects of massage therapy as it improves their health and general well-being.

There are currently around 900 massage therapists employed in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the health and community services industry. Over half of persons in this occupation are female and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has an older age profile over half of massage therapists aged 45 years or older.
  • Massage therapists massage muscles and other soft tissue to promote rehabilitation, recovery, relaxation and well-being. A wide range of people, with an equally wide range of conditions or ailments, seek their help. Massage therapists may be asked to assist in treating parts of the body that have been injured through bad work habits such as sitting at a computer for long periods. Or it may be that someone's passion for gardening is causing them backache and pain. Age-related conditions, illness or disability are other presenting conditions.

    Aside from relieving muscular tension and assisting restricted body movement, massage therapy also helps reduce anxiety, assists with stress management, enhances alertness and creates body awareness - all very useful in helping people cope better in today's increasingly busy world. Before therapy can get underway, massage therapists talk with their clients, gathering general information on lifestyle and obtaining a thorough medical history. This assists therapists to determine the possible cause(s) of people's ailments, or simply to gain a better understanding of why these people have opted to have massage therapy.

  • To become a professional massage therapist, it is important to have the appropriate training. It is therefore advisable to undertake a course offered through TAFE SA. There are 48% of massage therapists who have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas, 14% have Bachelor Degrees or higher qualifications, 20% have Certificate III or Certificate IV, 2% have Certificate I or Certificate II, 10% have no post school qualifications.

    TAFE SA offers courses to this occupation including Diploma of Remedial Massage and the Diploma of Beauty Therapy (Specialising in Relaxation Massage). Pathways include the Certificate IV in Massage Therapy.

    Studying at TAFE SA is one of the easiest and most successful pathways towards a University Degree. Dual offer courses are available to TAFE SA and Adelaide University with the Diploma of Remedial Massage/Bachelor of Health Science.

  • Massage therapists may be employed in health and fitness clinics, sports clubs, gymnasiums and medical centres. They may also find employment with other health care practitioners such as chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths. Self-employment may be possible by setting up a private practice or freelancing between establishments which have a demand for applied massage therapy. There is an increase in employment opportunities in hospitals, particularly in palliative care.

    Job prospects in this field have improved considerably over the past five years. There is an increasing demand for qualified massage therapists due to a general increase in the awareness and acceptance of natural therapies and the therapeutic benefits of massage therapy. Massage therapy has become a more highly regarded treatment within the health industry. They may also work with many other health professionals such as medical practitioners, chiropractors, naturopaths and physiotherapists.

  • Massage therapists massage clients for relaxation and remedial purposes. They use complementary aids such as essential oils and may also advise clients on exercise, relaxation and stretching techniques as well as lifestyle needs if they are trained in complementary areas. In addition, they may be required to consult with and refer to other health care professionals, provide medical referrals and maintain thorough and accurate treatment records.

  • Massage therapists must be fit and healthy, have an interest in people's well-being, have good business acumen and don't mind standing while you work. Although the work is physically demanding, it requires stamina rather than strength. They may travel between appointments to see clients at various establishments or in their homes. Freelance and self-employed therapists may work irregular hours or evenings to fit client schedules.

  • ''The idea of helping people feel better is what attracted me to massage therapy. I like knowing that I actually do something that improves people's comfort and well-being and I enjoy the interaction that comes from doing this. I continue to enjoy the occupation as it offers plenty of variety, both in how the work is done and in the wide range of people who seek out massage for such different reasons,'' says Debbie. Although massage therapists generally work indoors in comfortable environments, keep in mind that the work can be strenuous.

    Professional massage therapists generally work in the field of stress management and health maintenance and in the treatment of soft tissue (muscle, ligaments, tendons), injury or dysfunction. Many therapists work at home but a high percentage also work in a wide variety of health care environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, medical centres, physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics, community health centres, health resorts, alternative health care centres such as homeopathic clinics and sports medicine environments. Work hours are usually very flexible and depend on the work setting and the amount of work therapists are capable of doing, given the physicality of this work. Self employed therapists may work evenings and weekends and/or work part time hours in several different locations. As with most small businesses, a degree of business skill is also helpful in establishing a successful practice.

    For further information, contact:

    The Association of Massage Therapists (AMT)
    Phone: (02) 9211 2441

    Australian Traditional Medicine Society
    Phone: (02) 8878 1500