After students graduate from massage college and pass the Board exams, they officially become registered massage therapists (RMTs). This is an exciting time - the beginning of a new professional chapter students have worked hard to achieve. However, in order to ensure a smooth transition from training to practice, RMTs must chart their course with care, building a strong foundation on which to grow and thrive.
From narrowing down career options to promoting a brand new private practice, there are a series of practical steps massage school graduates can take to find their professional footing.
At any stage in their careers, RMTs can benefit from joining a professional association of colleagues; however, these communities are particularly valuable for students who have recently completed their massage therapy training. Non-profit organizations such as the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of British Columbia provide support, guidance and valuable resources, including:
• Practical assistance with starting a private practice
• Clinic forms
• Samples of work agreement contracts
• Access to research journals, project grants, and information about Continuing Education Courses (CECs)
• Tax and legal advice
• Malpractice Insurance
Membership situates RMTs securely within a community of peers from whom they can learn - and give back to - as their career evolves.
One of the reasons students are drawn to massage therapy college is the sheer diversity of career options open to them following graduation. RMTs may choose from a range of work environments such as a home-based practice, multidisciplinary clinic, hospital, health club, or fitness centre. Some graduates use their expertise to travel the world, earning positions on cruise ships, resorts, hotels, or sports teams.
While some students have a clear sense of their professional path from the early stages of training, others may find it difficult to narrow down the available options. Taking stock of market demand and your own personal preferences (to travel, remain local, work for yourself, or join a clinic team) is an important first step - as is reflecting on experiences with the college outreach program or student massage clinic. Were you particularly drawn to maternity massage, working with athletes, or perhaps young children? These insights may help graduates hone in on a particular specialty or professional focus. Again, experienced members of an RMT association may prove helpful sources of advice and support during this decision-making process.
Once RMTs have decided on a professional path, effective self-promotion will be a key component of both launching and sustaining a successful career in MT. Graduates who set up a private practice or join an existing clinic will likely need strategies to grow a loyal client base. Non-profit organizations typically offer referral services for members, which help connect locals with RMTs. But one the best ways to advertise your services is through networking and volunteering in your own community. Offering massages at charitable events such as fundraising walks, runs or tournaments can be an excellent way to meet potential clients, refine your skills, and contribute to a worthy cause.
RMTs may also choose to reach clients online, setting up a website and/or social media accounts to promote volunteer activities, ongoing professional development, special offers, and specific areas of expertise. This is a great way to define and articulate your mission as an RMT - the passion and professional commitment that drives your practice and puts patient wellbeing at the center of all your endeavors.
What other steps do you think new RMTs can take to launch successful careers?