Where Do You Work? Independent Contracting

Arlene Estrella is an independent contractor and also the Hawaii Chapter President. How does she manage her hectic schedule? Find out more below.

What attracted you to the massage therapy profession?

In high school, I hoped to become a physical therapist. However, after volunteering in a local hospital's physical therapy department, I noticed that the PTs were doing a lot of charting but the PTAs were actually doing the hands-on work, which appealed to me. During that time, academics wasn't my forte and getting into a PT program was far-fetched. When someone suggested I look into massage therapy, a light bulb went off.

What is your current work environment like?

Currently, I am an independent contractor doing outcall massage and corporate chair massage.

What is your specialization?

I can't say that I specialize in any particular technique. Over the years, I have learned various techniques. I feel that learning a variety of different techniques allows me to have a "toolbox" that I can pull from and use what is needed for that particular client at that time.

What do you enjoy most about your position?

I enjoy the challenge as Chapter President. Having volunteered for AMTA since I joined in 1997, I feel that I have been groomed for this position. I am very privileged to work with an amazing board who works well together and strives to serve our membership.  

What are some of the challenges?

The unpredictability of being an independent contractor. Sometimes it's feast or famine. However, I believe that if you live a balanced lifestyle, you are better prepared for the famines mentally, and when it's time to feast, you appreciate it more.

What is a typical day like for you?

The beauty of being an independent contractor is that here is no "typical" day for me. Some days I may have six outcall massages, while other days I won't have any. I do have my regular clients and my regular corporate chair massage accounts that keep me busy when the phone isn't ringing.

How has AMTA impacted your career?

AMTA has been an integral part of my career development in a multitude of areas. I enjoy the access to continuing education and the friendships/mentors that I have met throughout my career. I have met some of my dearest friends through AMTA. Having moved from Michigan to California and currently Hawaii, I didn't have a doubt in my mind that I would be welcomed by my AMTA family, regardless of where I lived.  

Advice for aspiring massage therapists?

I truly believe that if you are doing what you love and would be willing to do it for free for the rest of your life, you've made the right career decision. I can't believe that 18 years have passed since I graduated massage school, and I look forward to many more years as a massage therapist. I wholeheartedly feel that I have lasted this long because of a belief in a couple of simple life rules: I practice what I preach by receiving regular massages myself. I try to eat well and follow a regular exercise regime. Both of these commitments have helped me keep my sanity and maintain a balanced lifestyle. Aloha!

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