How Much Does it Cost to Become a Massage Therapist?

Becoming a massage therapist is a potentially valuable career. And with the right education, a massage therapist gains an invaluable skill set. It’s a rewarding profession that serves the health and wellness of a community.

How much does it cost to become a massage therapist? Tuition for a massage therapy school can be as low as $475 for a 15-month program at Texas Massage Academy. Or, it can be much higher like the Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy where they offer an accelerated, 4-month program with on-campus housing for $18,500. 

Choosing which massage therapy school to attend will depend on several factors. A few things to consider include:

  • What type of massage therapist do you want to be?
  • How much time do you have available for school?
  • Can you afford the tuition out of pocket or will you need financial assistance?

This first step will help you to sort out which school will best fit your educational goals and needs. Being able to answer these three questions will get you started on your path to a successful career as a massage therapist.  

What You Pay For

When looking at the vast range of tuition prices of massage therapy schools, remember that more expensive doesn’t always mean better value. Likewise, a cheap tuition rate doesn’t indicate a poorer educational experience. In fact, the Texas Massage Academy offers its most in-depth massage therapy program for the lowest of its three tuition rates.

An accredited massage therapy program typically provides: 

  • Education in the classroom
  • Practice in the laboratory
  • Real-world experience in a supervised setting

The education portion of massage therapy school will start with the basics. Students will cover aspects of the human body as they relate to massage therapy like topics of anatomy to learn about the different tissues of the body, Introductory classes will go over body systems like the cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems that can benefit from massage therapy treatments. 

The curriculum in the classroom will be dependent on the specific massage therapy program offered by the school. For example, Soma Institute, in Chicago, offers a diploma program in Clinical Massage Therapy.This one of a kind program prepares its students for an array of career options like:

  • Spa-style wellness massage found in hotels, resorts, and beauty spas
  • Medical massage specialists who work alongside doctors and nurses in hospitals and clinical facilities
  • Sports massage therapists for professional teams like the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, or the National Hockey League as well as college players in the NCAA and high school sports teams

As the classroom time delves deeper into the massage therapy curriculum, students will take that knowledge into the lab. There, instructors will provide students the opportunity to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom for a hands-on training experience. Students will work together as they demonstrate the knowledge they’ve acquired from the classroom.

How much time you spend in the classroom and laboratory will vary from school to school. Most massage therapy programs will range from 600 to 750 clock hours. The number of hours encompasses time spent in the classroom, the laboratory, and observation hours. The observation portion of hours is often referred to as an internship.

As with most professions in the United States, each state has set its own requirements with regard to massage therapy licensing. In general, they vary in the amount of time spent in the internship phase of the program. Time spent in the classroom and lab tends to be fairly consistent from school to school.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Massage Therapist?For example, the state of Texas only requires 50 hours of clinical observation hours to become a licensed massage therapist. To incentivize its students to go beyond the state minimum and acquire more real-world experience, the Texas Massage Academy charges the least amount for its longest program. They offer the core requirement with the minimum hours for $5550 or you can enroll in their Elite Mastery program with 225 observation hours for only $475.

All three massage therapy programs they offer provide the same amount of classroom learning and hands-on lab experience. The only difference between the three, besides the big jumps in price, is the amount of time spent interning.

Core Program $5550 Advanced Core $3570 Elite Mastery $475
Semester 1 – 250 hours of in-class and lab time

Semester 2 – 50 hours of internship

Semester 3 – 200 hours of in-class and lab, exam prep

Semester 1 – 250 hours of in-class and lab time

Semester 2 – 120 hours of internship

Semester 3 – 200 hours of in-class and lab, exam prep

Semester 1 – 250 hours of in-class and lab time

Semester 2 – 225 hours of internship

Semester 3 – 200 hours of in-class and lab, exam prep

Massage therapy schools like the Soma Institute and Florida’s Sarasota School of Massage Therapy offer a 750-hour program. These longer programs offer more time to learn and prepare students for the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) required by most states. The higher tuition rates of these two schools go beyond paying for class time and training.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Massage Therapist?The Soma Institute’s 11- month Clinical Massage Therapy program for just over $14,000 gives students a unique on-campus internship. Students will get interactive sports massage experience with the NCAA Division I Loyola University. Tuition at Soma Institute in Chicago also covers the cost of:

  • Somo Institute polo uniforms
  • Student liability insurance
  • Initial licensing fees for the exam, fingerprinting, and massage therapy license

Like Soma Institute, the Sarasota School of Massage Therapy’s tuition takes care of the fees associated with the exam and licensing process. It is important to note, in this case, that the MBLEx must be taken within 30 days of graduation. Beyond that deadline, the paid tuition no longer covers those fees associated with licensing and the student will have to pay out of pocket for the following:

  • exam fee
  • background check
  • fingerprinting
  • license fee

Tuition at Sarasota also includes the cost of a massage table as well as lotions, creams, and oils. 

Other Expenses

Most massage therapy schools have a registration or application fee associated with their various programs. This fee is usually between $25-$50 and covers the cost of paperwork and administration fees. Students can be expected to cover the cost of various classroom materials and books not covered by the tuition,

The price range for these incidentals and textbook materials will vary based on the school’s requirements. At Soma Institute, students will pay around $150-$200 for books, linens, and supplies. Textbooks and additional supplies at Sarasota School of Massage Therapy cost around $380 per student. Meanwhile, in Texas, students at the academy spend around $550 on textbooks and classroom materials.

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The Massage School with It All and a Beach

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Massage Therapist?If you’re feeling adventurous and have 4 months to spare then perhaps the Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy is just what you need. Their recent accreditation through the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) makes them the first certification and training program for study abroad. That means the education you receive in Costa Rica will prepare you for the MBLEx just as well, if not better, than a school in most of the United States and other places around the world.

At the Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy, your tuition of $16,500 includes:

  • Complete massage therapy curriculum that prepares students for the Massage and Bodywork Licensing exam and licensure for practicing massage therapy in the United States
  • Fully equipped classrooms with massage tables, linens, lotions, oils, and creams 
  • Access to the student massage therapy clinic for the completion of internship hours
  • Textbooks and other classroom materials such as charts and diagrams
  • Graduation ceremony complete with dinner and well-deserved celebration

What’s more, is the campus has open-air classrooms just a short stroll away from the beautiful beaches of Playa Samara. You’ll find yourself in a paradise of tropical fruit trees with mangos, bananas, and papaya at your fingertips while walking to and from classes. And best of all, the fast-paced learning is mixed with personal time off for adventure and exploring between quarters.

For an additional $2000, students of the Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy can live in the on-campus housing. These shared bungalows provide a fully furnished kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and baths. Outside is a patio with hammocks for a relaxing place to study or unwind after class.

The campus housing has overnight security, a swimming pool, weekly housekeeping, and wireless internet. It’s a secure and gated campus located close to the markets, restaurants, and beaches of Playa Samara. By living on campus, you’ll never be late to class and you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself into the massage therapy experience.

Related Questions

Do Salons Make a Lot of Money? -

How much money does a massage therapist make?

The range in salary for a massage therapist working in the United States is $45,000 to $60,000 and up. Sports massage therapists can make an average of $71,000 per year in salary.

Which states have the most massage therapists working per capita?

The top four states employing the most massage therapists are Hawaii, Arizona, Colorado, and Washington. The city with the highest number of massage therapists is Napa, California.


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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.