Massage Therapist

Startup Costs: $2,000 - $10,000
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? Yes
Online Operation? No

Between historic amounts of stress and spending every waking minute hunched over laptops and phones, there is no shortage of people who need therapeutic massages. This is a career that does require certification (check out the American Massage Therapy Association for details) but here's the rub: the startup costs are pretty minimal. You can go mobile and see clients at their homes or offices with your massage table, soothing oils and restful music in tow. And with proper permits, set up on the beach, at shopping malls or inside local health clubs.

How much money can you make as a massage therapist?

The average base pay for a massage therapist in the U.S. amounts to $66,011, according to Glassdoor, while PayScale reports a massage therapist’s hourly pay at around $25.50.

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What kind of experience do you need to have?

“I had been receiving massages for many years as part of my recovery from bilateral mastectomies, reconstruction and other cancer-related surgeries. Massage truly transformed my life… I spoke to my husband about the possibility of owning a spa, whereby we could offer the services that have been and continue to be so beneficial and integral in my well-being… From the business perspective, we both felt that my marketing and business background, with its origins in the publishing industry, were well suited for managing a spa, and his background in the finance world was also directly applicable to managing a business.” — Kay Hechler, Hand & Stone and Facial Spa

Related: Get the No.1 Guide to Starting Your Own Business

What’s the most important thing to know about this business?

“Do your research — a lot of research. I found it most helpful to talk to others who are already in the industry… [and] most importantly, have patience.” — Jackie Martinez, Elements Massage

The Market

Your clients can be overworked executives and home office entrepreneurs, stay-at-home moms, and athletes who've overdone the aerobics workout and even sports rehabilitation clinics. Send sales letters and brochures to the human resources departments or health and safety coordinators of large corporations and small-business owners in your area. Leave fliers or brochures at health clubs and spas; swim, running and biking clubs; fitness centers; athletic shoe and clothing shops; vitamin and nutrition shops; and with chiropractors who can refer you to their patients. Give seminars to professional and civic groups and volunteer yourself as a guest on a local radio chat show. Get yourself written up in local publications. Donate a few sessions to a charity fundraiser in exchange for publicity.

Needed Equipment

Some states require massage therapists to be licensed--check with the American Massage Therapy Association to find out if yours is one of them. You'll need a portable massage table or chair, a selection of scented candles and oils, a stack of clean towels, and a CD or cassette player plus some relaxing music to pop into it.

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