Exploring the Path of a Massage Therapy Instructor
Choosing Your Path
There are myriad ways you can configure your career as an MTI. You can work part-time or full-time, you can use your experiences as an MTI as a stepping-stone to another career, you can focus on being an MTI as a second career, you can blend teaching with your current vibrant massage therapy practice, or you can supplement your retirement income by becoming an MTI. There are opportunities to work as an independent massage therapy instructor, like I do, you can work as an instructor at an established massage therapy school, and/or you can work for a nationwide company that provides massage therapy classes throughout the U.S.
Once you have been approved as an MTI and you have your MTI license and any other licenses and certifications you may need in order to teach, focus on setting goals for each of the massage therapy courses you wish to teach. Then choose the content and format that will make each course work for you and your students. If you choose a career as an independent MTI, you can utilize the information you gain in your MTI course to begin designing the content of your course notebook and structure. Remember to avoid using other people’s copyrighted material without permission and acknowledgment. If you choose to work as a MTI in a massage school environment, the school administrators will typically provide course notebooks and supporting media for the classroom. You should also think about how you will use technology in the classroom. Practice teaching your newly designed massage course to colleagues and friends and ask for feedback. It is not only an excellent idea to practice teaching, it is a NCBTMB requirement, as stated on their website, “Before submitting an application to NCBTMB for approval, you must have taught the course at least one time within the last year to a group of five or more participants. You must provide the participants with an evaluation requesting feedback on the course, instruction and material.” You could even videotape yourself practice teaching so you can study the pros and cons of your teaching style. An additional way to learn to teach would be to partner with another instructor during the beginning of your career or to serve as an assistant in a classroom.
Teach what you truly love and what you are qualified to teach. Think about how good it feels to have a positive influence in the lives of those around you. Create a structure for your classes in an environment that participants will enjoy. Utilize the information and resources presented in your MTI course material to create the ideal classroom environment. Make sure the classroom is well lit, properly ventilated, clean, comfortable, and that there are appropriate restroom facilities. Decide whether or not you are going to provide massage tables. Make sure to have a balanced percentage of hands-on experiential training and cognitive information. My preferred balance is 80% experiential and 20% cognitive.
Once you have developed your course material, if you are an independent MTI,, focus on setting prices, registering participants, and preparing rosters and certificates of attendance. Set up a spreadsheet to track your income and expenses on a daily basis so you can carefully monitor your progress. It is also important to remember that the first three to five years of any business, including massage therapy education, are building years as you lay the foundation for your ongoing success. Keep the appropriate tax records for the IRS. Also maintain student records, rosters and course evaluations for NCBTMB and your state massage board. Please be sure to comply with all of your state board rules and regulations.
Develop marketing strategies by taking some marketing classes, reading books that offer tips for successful marketing and utilizing the services of mentors and consultants. The Ariana Institute’s MTI course includes information on marketing your courses as an independent MTI; however, not all MTI courses provide this component in their curriculum. Next, determine what marketing techniques work best for your business and budget. Think of ways to develop compelling descriptive titles for your courses to capture the attention of your students. Believe that you can be successful and surround yourself with competent people who support you in achieving your goals and dreams.
We will next explore ways of finding and creating opportunities to advance your career as an MTI.
Opportunities For Massage Instructors
Search engines come in handy for researching opportunities for massage therapy instructors. If you want to work at a massage school, simply search the name of the city where you want to teach and then enter “massage school” and find out the name of the director of the school and contact that person to see if there are any positions available for MTIs. You could also offer to teach one-time continuing education classes in your area of specialty as well as seeing about becoming a part of the part-time or full-time faculty. Create a proposal for the CE classes you want to teach at the schools and submit it to the school administrators along with your resume and cover letter. Go to events and CE classes at the schools where you are interested in teaching so that you become known in their environment.
If you are interested in teaching for a national massage company that hires instructors, you could do some online research for names and contact information and then follow-up to see if they are hiring. You could take some courses offered by that company and talk to the instructor to see what his or her teaching experiences with that company have been like.
Another approach to utilizing your MTI certification would be to establish yourself as an independent MTI and CE provider. Design and develop your own course curriculum and market your class to the local community. Once you have achieved your desired level of success, consider expanding your market.
You can develop name recognition by offering to teach classes for local massage groups, such as massage Meetups and local AMTA chapters. On a larger scale, you can submit proposals for state and national conventions, for example, AMTA national conventions and The World Massage Festival.
Consider writing a book on the massage technique that you want to teach. This can help you market yourself as an educator. This can be done for every course, or bundle of courses that you offer.
In today’s technological world, another good marketing avenue is to create instructional videos for your courses and (1) publish them on the web, (2) send them to prospective students, (3) place them on your website, (4) include the URLs for these videos in the books that you publish, and (5) include the URLs in your course notebooks.
Resources for Advanced Information
The Ariana Institute’s Massage Therapy Instructor Course
ABMP Instructor Resource Programs
AFMTE’s Educational Resources for Massage Therapy Teachers
AFMTE’s National Teacher Education Standards Project (NTESP)
Coursera Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education
Educational Training Solutions
ELAP (Entry Level Analysis Project)
Florida Board of Massage Therapy Education Programs Page
NCBTMB Information for Continuing Education Providers
NCBTMB New York Approved CE Sponsor
Now that we have explored many options on the MTI path, I’ll leave you with a few thoughts and insights. One of the most important things you can do is to impart the knowledge and wisdom that you have gained over the years. Teaching can be a rewarding and enriching process that benefits the teacher, the student and the recipients of massage. Take time to look inside and see what you can do to let your light shine and manifest your dreams into reality. As Nelson Mandela shared so eloquently, What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.
The information above includes excerpts for an article “Positive Influence: Become a Massage Therapy Instructor,” by Ariana Vincent, originally published in the June 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.
Visit the Ariana Instiute’s website to learn about opportunities and courses for future Massage Therapy Instructors at http://www.arianainstitute.com/ce-online/#mti!