The most important decision you will make in your massage therapy career is where you will receive your education. Your school provides your foundation of knowledge and skills necessary for success in your massage therapy practice. Massage school is a significant investment when it comes to time and money. You want to make sure you invest wisely. Below are important points to consider when choosing a massage school:
- Does the school’s curriculum meet state/local licensing requirements for your desired area of practice?
For example, if the school you are considering has a 500-hour program, and you plan to get a job in North Dakota, you will need to attend an additional school to get more education, since North Dakota requires a minimum of 750 hours of education. Health Works Institute’s program is 750 hours; most states require between 500 and 750 hours; New York and Nebraska require 1,000 hours.
- Is the school accredited, and does it offer federal student financial aid?
In most states, schools need state approval, and the process for gaining approval varies widely from state to state. Accreditation is different from approval. Accreditation requires schools to prove that they are in full compliance with detailed standards for curriculum content, learning resources, teacher qualifications, student services, student recruitment methods, facility and equipment, financial practices, administrative operations, etc. Health Works Institute was accredited by The Commission of Massage Therapy Accreditation in 2003. Some schools allow students to fulfill their financial obligations by making payments to the school over time; however, federal student financial aid is only available to nationally accredited schools. Health Works has been providing federal student financial aid since 2003.
- Is the school located in a place where you would love to live while you are receiving your education?
Health Works Institute is located in beautiful Bozeman, Montana. This area is a nature lover’s paradise, located in a wide open valley and surrounded by majestic mountains. There is easy access to hiking, biking, skiing, fishing and hunting, and the “Main Street to the Mountains” trail system provides a network of safe paths for year-round walking, Nordic skiing , and biking. Bozeman also offers a rich cultural life, with fantastic local art and music, the opportunity to participate in healthy community initiatives, and access to numerous events on the Montana State University campus. We enjoy fresh air, a low crime rate, and friendly folks who exude a positive attitude toward life.
- Are the teachers recent graduates of the program?
It’s better if they’re not! Rather than selecting a great student as she/he proceeds through the program and having that person begin teaching right after graduating, Health Works requires that all teachers have a minimum of two years of professional experience, and our teachers have from three to twenty or more years of experience. We love hiring teachers who have not graduated from our program, as long as their massage education was good, as this contributes diversity and richness to our students’ learning experiences.
- Does the school’s program have solid sciences taught by knowledgeable individuals?
Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology and Kinesiology must all be included, and the courses should be long enough to provide more than just the minimum amount of information. The teachers should have knowledge and expertise that is extensive, so that they can answer any question that a student asks. At Health Works, our science teachers are chiropractors and naturopathic physicians.
- Are the hands-on courses long enough for you to become truly proficient and sufficiently knowledgeable?
Some schools provide instruction on many different massage techniques or types of bodywork, with the result that students know a little bit about a lot of things. At Health Works, the most fundamental course, Swedish Massage, is 100 hours in length, and the courses in Myofascial Release, Multi-dimensional Massage, Theory of Asian Medicine and Asian Bodywork, and Neuromuscular Therapy and Trigger Point Massage are each 60 hours in length. Additionally, the Sports Massage course is 49 hours, and the course in Client Assessment and Technique Integration is 45 hours. Students graduate from the program with the confidence and skills to competently perform all of these techniques.
- Which textbooks are used in the program, and is there a library?
The best schools use the most current editions of the best textbooks for massage education. Examples are: The Ethics of Touch; Save Your Hands; Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology; Therapeutic Massage in Athletics; The Psychology of the Body; and Hands Heal. A school’s library should contain professional journals, including Massage Therapy Journal, Massage & Bodywork, and Massage magazine, as well as other periodicals, books and DVDs that make it easy for you to access information beyond what is presented in the program. A good library provides you with an understanding of the breadth and depth of the massage therapy field and the many opportunities you will have to enhance your clients’ quality of life.
We encourage you to get the information you need to make a wise decision about your massage education! Read the school’s website and catalog thoroughly, visit the school if you can, talk to graduates, and make sure to take the time you need to make your choice. Health Works Institute presents Information Sessions every month, and you may attend in person, or you may watch Info Session videos on our website by clicking here! Also, don’t hesitate to call the school at (406) 582-1555, to get your questions answered; we are here to support your decision-making process and guide you through the admissions process if you decide to join the Health Works community!