What is Massage Therapy?Page Menu
Massage therapy is manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments) to enhance a person’s health and well-being. There are dozens of types of massage therapy methods (also called modalities).
People seek massage therapy for a variety of reasons – to reduce stress and anxiety, relax muscles, rehabilitate injuries, reduce pain, and promote overall health and wellness. At Northwestern, you are not simply going to a massage school - you are studying to be a healthcare professional who provides massage therapy.
Types of massage therapy
While there are several types of massage, two fundamental categories are:
- Relaxation massage - also known as Swedish massage; practiced in settings like spas, wellness centers and resorts
- Rehabilitative massage – also known as deep tissue, medical, therapeutic or clinical massage; practiced in many settings like clinics, hospitals and chiropractic offices
Join a growing profession
Employment of professional massage therapists is expanding. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 23% growth in massage therapy employment between 2012 and 2022 - faster than the average rate for all occupations. Research estimates that massage therapy was a $11.7 billion industry in the U.S. in 2014 - learn more from the AMTA Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet.
Northwestern prepares you for this widening field by training you in hands-on skills that apply to a variety of career paths, work environments and patients. You learn skills ranging from the basic relaxation techniques that are taught in most massage schools to the more advanced rehabilitative techniques taught at Northwestern.
We encourage our graduates to obtain national certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).
- Occupational Outlook Handbook - U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: median pay, job outlook, job duties, work environments
- American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA): career guidance, advocacy, industry research
- AMTA Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet: industry outlook and growth projections
- AMTA Massage Therapy Position Statement: conditions that massage therapy can address or alleviate
- Associated Bodywork & Massage Professional (ABMP): student success guide, practice support for members
- Massagetherapy.com: what is massage therapy, becoming a massage therapist, massage schools
- Professional licensure