Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet

Read about the current state of the massage therapy profession. 

While massage therapy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the profession has rebounded in a strong way. The majority of massage therapists are working again with enhanced safety protocols in place. As we look at key market data from 2021, the state of the massage therapy profession looks bright based on these latest findings from AMTA’s recent surveys.

Who is Getting Massage?

Gender, age and income affect the likelihood of massage use.

One shift that has occurred since the pandemic began is that men are now more likely than women to get a massage. 

Last year 25% of men and 21% of women got a massage.

Consumers with children under the age of 18 at home are more likely to get a massage than those without children at home. 

Income has an impact on how likely consumers are to get a massage. While 36% of those making $100,000 or more got a massage last year, only 19% of those making $50,000 or less got a massage. 

 

Where Are Consumers Getting Massage? 

  • In 2021 46% of female consumers and 23% of male consumers got a massage in a spa
  • 34% of consumers got a massage at a massage therapist’s office
  • 24% of consumers visited a massage franchise or chain in 2021 – and 13% of consumers got their last massage at a name-brand chain in 2021.
  • 7% of consumers got a massage at their home or the home of someone they know in 2021
*Some consumers may not know the difference between a spa, franchise, and often a massage therapist's office. 

Where Are Consumers Getting Massage? 

  • In 2021 46% of female consumers and 23% of male consumers got a massage in a spa
  • 34% of consumers got a massage at a massage therapist’s office
  • 24% of consumers visited a massage franchise or chain in 2021 – and 13% of consumers got their last massage at a name-brand chain in 2021.
  • 7% of consumers got a massage at their home or the home of someone they know in 2021
*Some consumers may not know the difference between a spa, franchise, and often a massage therapist's office. 

Why Do Consumers Get a Massage?

Over half of all massage consumers got their last massage for health and wellness reasons. 

Just 16% of consumers list pampering as their primary reason for their last massage, and 30% of consumers received a massage for pampering in the last year. 

Nearly half of consumers got a massage last year for relaxation or stress reduction. 

Men are more likely than women to discuss massage therapy with their doctor or health care provider. 

In 2021, 63% of consumers who got a massage for health and wellness reasons stated it was part of a treatment plan from a doctor or medical provider.

Research data comes from the 2021 AMTA Consumer Survey.

 

What are the health and wellness reasons for massage?

Where do clients find massage therapists?

While most massage therapists don’t actively promote client-to-client referrals, at just 37 percent, that is the most common way clients find a massage therapist, at 85 percent.

The next most common way to find massage therapists is online and through community or local events.  

Where do clients find massage therapists?

While most massage therapists don’t actively promote client-to-client referrals, at just 37 percent, that is the most common way clients find a massage therapist, at 85 percent.

The next most common way to find massage therapists is online and through community or local events.  

Where do massage therapists find clients?

The average massage therapist uses more than five outlets of communication to promote their practice.

Social media and the internet are the most common digital tools massage therapists use to promote their practice.

61% of massage therapists had websites for their practice – and those working as employees reported 74% of their employers had a website.

Roughly half of massage therapists received referrals from physicians at least once every 6 months.

Over three-quarters, (77%) of massage therapists referred clients to another massage therapist at least once every 6 months.

Who Is Practicing Massage Therapy?

The number of massage therapists has increased by 14% over the last decade. The profession is predominately female at 86%. Nearly half of massage therapists (46%) have a bachelor's degree or higher. Massage therapy was rarely the first career choice for most massage therapists, regardless of the practice setting. 

 

Where are massage therapists practicing?

  • 81% of massage therapists describe themselves as sole practitioners
  • On average, massage therapists work in about 2 different settings
  • 52% of massage therapists provide massage in their offices
  • 36% provide massage in their homes

COVID-19 and the Massage Industry

What kinds of business changes are consumers looking for in response to COVID-19?

How has COVID-19 impacted the massage profession?

As of April 2020, 86% of massage therapists stated they had stopped working. In September 2021 over 90% stated they were back at work.

Massage therapists are changing their work practices and cleaning and appointment procedures due to the pandemic. This includes more time between appointments to allow for additional cleaning. 

The pandemic has also meant massage therapists needed more supplies, and new supplies never before needed to run their business. The majority of these new and increased supplies are cleaning (77%), hand sanitizer (73%) and face masks (71%).

Download the 2020 Fact Sheet

Better understand your clients and the massage profession. Grow your practice with this quick glance guide, based on AMTA's 2021 Massage Profession Research Report.

Download the Fact Sheet