Congrats! You have finally completed your training to become a massage therapist and have obtained your certification. You are now ready to start your dream business and embark on a successful wellness career as a massage therapist; however, one not-so-small detail is getting in your way: How much should you charge for your massage therapy services?
You have probably taken some form of marketing course throughout your massage therapy schooling, but now it’s time to put your knowledge to the test, in a real-world situation. Setting rates for your massage therapy services and professional expertise isn’t unique to your industry. And like many other businesses, you should take into account a few personal and business factors:
- Location: Where will you practice massage therapy?
- Business Type: Will you be in business by yourself or part of a team?
- Services: What kinds of massage therapy services do you plan to offer?
You’ve probably already guessed, there’s no magic price that all massage therapists’ use, as many different services require different pricing structures. But you can use that in your favor – as it’s best to come up with the fee that reflects your current level of ability and education and one you’re completely comfortable with – you don’t cringe because you think it’s too high or disappointed because you’re giving your services away.
What Does Location Say About Your Rates?
A random search of massage therapy services for a traditional Swedish massage in Chicago was $74/hour. St. Louis and Denver weighed in at $70/hour while New York City was $95/hour. Now if you take a look at San Francisco, that’s where we found the most expensive rate, for the same 60-minute treatment was $102/hour. This has a lot to do with the standard of living in those particular cities by also keeping in mind the supply and demand with the amount of competition.
To offer perspective, the 2012 median pay for massage therapy professionals employed in hospitals or fitness centers was $36,000 per year or approximately $17/hour. However, as an “employee” there’s the trade off of stability and no management responsibilities versus fulfilling your vision for a private practice and having autonomy.
Will You Be In Business By Yourself Or Part Of A Team?
Monthly expenses may also include rent, utilities, and any massage therapy supplies, such as oils, hot stones and cleaning supplies. Also be aware of annual expenses. Examples of annual expenses are license renewal or any business permits you’re required to have also any massage therapy continuing education courses you will need to maintain your license status, and any massage therapy conventions you wish to attend to network and to gain more knowledge about the industry.
There is also “cost” of maintaining your business – everything from laundry, cleaning (even if you contract out), to marketing. Also, if you share space or open a practice with a colleague or two, the impact of these expenses is greatly reduced.
What Kinds of Massage Services Will You Offer?
You can always develop the types of massage you offer or provide “add-on” services, such as reflexology or Reiki. As your massage therapy practice expands, your array of services will also influence your fees, since different services require different rates.
Our Advice: Research Other Massage Therapist’s Rates
Another thing to note while networking, is the better rapport you have with your competition, the more likely they will be to suggest you if they decide to close their doors. Your success as a massage therapist will result in your commitment and professionalism; however it’s also helpful to see how your business operates in the real world.
About the Author – Sheena Christensen
Sheena Christensen is the Content Manager for Rubstr.com; a massage therapy and wellness site devoted to connecting clients to the best massage therapist in their area. Sheena is a wellness and social media enthusiast who has written blogs, articles, and marketing material for many different verticals.