AMTA Releases Annual Research on Massage Therapy Profession


The American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) seventh annual summary research on the state of the massage therapy profession indicates mixed indicators for the massage therapy marketplace. A detailed report focused on the meaning of the research for massage therapy schools and their students was released and discussed today at the AMTA 2014 Massage Schools Summit in San Diego, CA.

Access the 2014 Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet »

As the demographics of the U.S. change, the opportunities for massage therapists continue to evolve, and the dynamics of massage therapy employment and private practice interact, this compilation of research is a vital resource for all in the massage therapy field. This is reflected in both the data on how massage therapists practice and how consumers accept massage.

“This research and analyses can be very important for our members and everyone in the profession,” says AMTA President Winona Bontrager. “Our profession and how massage therapy is accepted by consumers and those in health care continues to change and we all need to understand how it is changing. Knowing the realities of the marketplace is essential if we want to be successful in our profession.”

Based on four surveys conducted for AMTA in recent months, and data from government agencies, the research continues to show that consumers ultimately determine the health of the massage therapy profession and that they accept the value of massage therapy as part of health and well-being. 

Consumer research indicates Americans continue to strongly believe in the efficacy of massage therapy, but the economy affected how many massages they received. The percentage of adults who received a massage stayed steady at 16 percent in 2013 while the average number of massages received went from 4.2 in 2012 to 4.1 in 2013. Approximately 34.9 million people had a total of 143 million massages in 2013, a 1.3 percent decline from the 145 million massages received in the U.S. by 34.5 million people in 2012. Although most age groups saw declines in use in 2013, those 18 to 35 and those 55-64 did see slight increases. 

Americans continue to believe in the efficacy of massage as 88 percent consider massage to be effective in reducing pain and 88 percent believe massage can be beneficial to health and wellness. The primary reason people received massage continued to be for medical purposes – pain relief, soreness/stiffness and recovery from injury - with 43 percent of massage consumers getting massage for these reasons. 

Practicing massage therapists reported working, on average, the same number of hours this past year, while the health care industry continued to offer employment opportunities for massage therapists in a variety of settings. On average, massage therapists worked 21.2 hours per week in 2013, similar to the 21.6 hours per week in 2012. They saw an average of 43 clients each month, up from 41 clients per month the year before.  Their gross annual income from massage therapy also increased to $21,871 per year in 2013 vs. $20,789 in 2012.  

Between 2012 and 2013, the estimated number of massage therapists grew by 4 percent to 319,870. The number of massage therapists has increased 47 percent over the past ten years, but the number has increased only 11 percent in the past five years indicating a slowing of growth in the number of therapists.   Most massage therapists continue to be female (88 percent), had a different profession prior to becoming a therapist (82 percent), have formal education beyond a high school diploma (88 percent) and are sole practitioners (62 percent). 

The health care industry continues to offer employment opportunities for massage therapists in a variety of settings.The industry added 19,000 jobs per month in 2013, making it one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. Twenty-six percent of massage therapists reported working in a health care setting in 2013 (18 percent in a chiropractic office / integrated health care clinic and 8 percent in a hospital / medical office or clinic) slightly less than the 27 percent of therapists working in health care settings the previous year. 

More massage therapists received referrals from health care professionals in 2013 with particular increases from chiropractors and integrated health clinics (70 percent in 2013 versus 67 percent in 2012) and from other health care professionals (73 percent in 2013 versus 69 percent in 2012).

The increasing number of referrals from health care professionals in recent years continues to indicate growing integration of massage therapy in health care environments.

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Jenn S., AMTA member since 1994

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