Massage therapists held about 122,400 jobs in 2008. Full time employers include massage centers attached to hotels, resorts, and tourist centers, offices of physicians and chiropractors, specialty hospitals, nursing homes, personal care services establishments, and fitness and recreational sports centers, malls, airports, and even private offices.
Specialty hospitals and other health care facilities are the best-paying employers of massage therapists, with average wages of $26.49 an hour, or $55,100 a year. Such facilities require massage therapists specialized in offering massages aimed at treating specific injuries such as sports injuries and other ailments. The other top paying industries include dental offices, junior colleges, civic and social organizations, and outpatient care centers.
The largest employers are personal care services, traveler accommodation centers, amusement and recreation industries, and offices of physicians. These facilities do not pay as much as health care facilities, but clients in such places offer tips, not available in health care facilities.
About 57 percent of all massage therapists work part time and on a freelance basis, and as such, earnings vary considerably depending on the hours worked. As it is with the case of other freelance professions, they get only their pay and usually have to spend a portion of the money to buy tools of the trade such as massage oils, laundry, space rentals, insurance, and marketing, and do not receive any other benefits. As such, the net remuneration for such freelancers remains on par with standard hourly wages for full time employees.
About 19 percent of freelance massage therapists work at multiple locations, including hospitals or clinics, and have variable schedules. About 48 percent of all freelancers take up this profession on a part time basis to earn supplemental income, working only a few hours a week.
The job of a physical therapist is physically demanding and prone to repetitive-motion problems and fatigue from standing for extended lengths of time. Many freelancers also require time to travel to the various work locations. As such, most massage therapists work only for about 15 to 30 hours per week.