Two out of every five massage therapists in the U.S. are self-employed. So successful massage therapists have plenty of business smarts as well as great massage techniques and personalities.

The demand for massage therapists will increase by 24% over the next decade, according to the most recent report by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since employment opportunities will continue to grow, your chances for a great career are best if you have what it takes to succeed as a massage therapy practitioner.

Here are the top seven qualities that Health Works Institute has learned “are most important for successful massage therapists to have as they build their careers,” says HWI director Ruth Marion.

Communication skills

Good communication involves both speaking and listening. So listen carefully to clients to understand what each one wants to achieve during their session. Before and during a massage session, explain what you will be doing and why. Good communication on both sides helps you modify your technique for a client’s comfort level.


Successful massage therapists give clients a positive experience. That’s because they make their clients feel comfortable and understood. Empathy means you’re able to truly understand and “empathize” with the discomfort or pain a client is describing. It’s a quality that establishes the warmth and trust necessary to ensure the client will keep coming back for your services.


A massage therapist has access to client information such as medical histories. Sometimes, they’re privy to very personal information some clients reveal while they’re on the table. So integrity, confidentiality and trustworthiness are important qualities for successful massage therapists. They know they must protect the privacy of their clients.

Physical stamina and strength

Successful massage therapists have the stamina to stay on their feet throughout a 60- or 90-minute session. They often need the strength to do several treatments a day. So they must be strong enough to exert pressure through a variety of movements when massaging a client’s muscles.


Like any successful professional, licensed massage therapists are well trained. They’re also eager to keep up on the latest developments in their field. They have extensive knowledge of a variety of massage techniques. And they also take continuing education courses to sharpen their skills and knowledge on a regular basis.

Nurturing Attitude

A nurturing environment in your therapy room is essential. But having a nurturing tone of voice and body language while paying close attention to a client’s needs and preferences are qualities that come naturally to successful massage therapists.

Business management skills

Good massage therapists are successful when they know how to attract new clients and manage a small business. They’re good at self-promotion, time-management and marketing through social media. And they’re also good with finances.


So continue your education and develop these qualities. By doing so, you’ll increase your roster of satisfied clients. And loyal, happy customers are your best advertising as you build your business.


Want to explore a new career as a massage therapist? Then check out our in-depth courses. These are the ones offered in the 750-hour massage therapy curriculum at Health Works Institute. If you’re already a licensed therapist, check out our upcoming Continuing Education workshops.

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