How Long Does It Take to Become a Massage Therapist?


Massage therapy is the manipulation of body tissues [1], like muscles, tendons, and ligaments using the hands, fingers, and forearms.

There are five steps to becoming a massage therapist. Read “What Is Massage Therapy?” to learn more about the basics of massage therapy.

Step 1: Enroll in Trade School for Training

Most U.S. states, including Illinois, require massage therapists to be licensed [2] before practicing. The number of documented hours and other requirements vary by state, but your education should provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to take your state’s licensing exam.The Midwest Technical Institute (MTI) Massage Therapy Program provides the student the skills and hands-on clinical training needed to perform therapeutic massage utilizing a variety of techniques. Students will learn how to relieve clients’ soft tissue pains and connective tissue traumas, plus massaging for relaxation purposes.Graduating students should be well-versed in wellness, nutrition, medical ethics, and trigger points of the body, and will have also studied lessons on therapy business management.The MTI Massage Therapy Program requires 720 hours over the course of 36 weeks (nine months.) The Massage Therapy Program is offered at the Springfield, IL and East Peoria, IL campuses.

Step 2: Take the Massage Therapy Licensing Exam

Exam results can be provided free of charge to one state licensing agency.

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Step 3: Comply with a Background Check

The State of Illinois requires fingerprint-based background checks [4] in order to receive a massage therapist license. Fingerprints must be taken 60 days prior to exam application submission and should be made electronically through a licensed vendor.Out-of-state applicants may have their fingerprints made on traditional cards from the Illinois State Police.

Step 4: Apply for the Massage Therapy License

Application materials [4] for the massage therapy license can be obtained from the Illinois Department of Finance & Professional Regulation. These application packets include certification education forms, which are to be filled out by school officials, to prove the student met the requirements. The application fee for the license is $175.The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation may issue a license, but the Massage Therapy Board may also view the license application to determine eligibility.

Step 5: Launch Your Own Practice or Seek Employment as a Massage Therapist

Full-time and part-time positions may be available for massage therapists depending on their employers. Massage therapists can find positions in a variety of employment options [6], like the following:

  • Spas
  • Health practitioners’ offices
  • Nursing homes
  • Sporting and fitness facilities
  • Private practices
The massage therapy industry also offers the potential for entrepreneurship. Self-employment allows therapists to create their own hours and schedule appointments onsite or in-home. These massage therapists will need to own their own tables or chairs, sheets, pillows, and lotions.

Starting Your Career as a Massage Therapist