Find out how a lifelong passion for massage led AMTA member Noelle Bonjour to a successful career as an independent contractor, and watch her explain the health benefits of massage on SFY ABC in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, during National Massage Therapy Awareness Week!
What drew you to the profession?
Even as a child, I was told I gave good massages, but when I was ready to graduate high school, massage therapy was still strongly considered a luxury. I thought I would only be able to work as a massage therapist in a big city, which was not appealing to a country kid. So, I pursued my passion in animals instead. Many years later, unable to start a career in the field of animal science, I was thinking about going back to massage school. I listened to the call and went to start a career in therapeutic massage.
How long have you been practicing?
I have been in the profession for just over four years, but it certainly doesn't feel like it's been that long. That's what happens when you find yourself in the right field!
What is your educational background?
From high school, I went to Iowa State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. Many of those credits transferred when I enrolled in the massage therapy program at Globe University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. That moved along the process of my earning an associate's in applied science in massage therapy.
What is your current setting like?
I am an independent contractor at Oien Family Chiropractic in Sioux Falls. I have previously run my own business and have been an employee. I have found my current position as an independent contractor to be the best of both worlds. This is a small clinic—we have one chiropractor, the office manager and two massage therapists.
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
It's hard for me to pick just one thing. I love being in a medical setting because that is where my skills are best suited. I also love my boss and coworkers! We look out for each other. Really, the only challenge comes when trying to keep busy while the chiropractor is on vacation. Most of my clients only get a massage if they can also get an adjustment.
What is a typical day like?
In any given day, I will do a mixture of 30–minute and 60–minute massages. Some days I give a lot of deep tissue massages. Other days I'm using more positional release and other gentler modalities.
How has AMTA impacted your career?
I first joined AMTA strictly for the liability insurance I needed to get my massage license. Now I cannot imagine not being a member! There is so much more! I have my own free website. I can keep current on so much in this profession thanks to the AMTA's publications—I actually keep a majority of my Massage Therapy Journals for future reference. And I certainly can't forget about the AMTA's National Massage Therapy Awareness Week! It's a great opportunity every year to promote the health benefits of massage, and all of the research I cite during this week always comes from AMTA publications.
Any advice for newcomers to the profession?
I would offer the same advice that was given to me when I first became licensed: "Massage therapy is an art, so go out and paint."
Read more about Bounjour's National Massage Therapy Awareness Week event here. For more information on being self-employed, please visit the career guidance section of our website.