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I was browsing  different massage therapy related web sites when I came across this:

http://www.abmp.com/news/md-bill-to-increase-entry-level-education-...

In a nutshell it says the ABMP is against Maryland increasing the education requirement from 500 hrs to 600 hrs.

How do you guys feel about this?  Are you for or against raising the entry level bar to become licensed or certified?

Personally, I think that as long as the entry level requirements stay as low as they currently are, then ME and other franchises can justify the low pay rates they offer.  I am for upping the educational requirements, however I am new to the industry to maybe their are negatives to increasing the education requirements that Im just not aware of.

Your thoughts? 

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The reality is, what you learn in school is very limited compared to what you learn on the job..  Most of what is taught is not needed and in my opinion often limits the potential and abilities of the massage therapist.. Upping the hours only ups the cost of tuition.   It doent make a better therapist.  It does create a better test taker though.  And ME is no threat to an experienced therapist.. Its a good place for any new therapist to get some hands on skills.  So they can charge more money later when their skill set develops.. Everything I say is my opinion... But Ive been doing this kind of work full time for thirty years.  Im for less hours and a more realistic mindset as to what our profession is really capable of.  In  two weeks I could teach  a more practical skill set then a two year massage school.  You might not be able to pass written test though.  And no state would accept my training.  And  you never learn everything anyway.

I think 500 hours is a good place to start.  As Gordon stated, more training (at the entry level) doesn't necessarily make better therapists.  I think the entry level training should give the graduate a good grasp on A&P and the ability to perform a "decent" massage - everything beyond that can be learned via on-the-job experience and CEUs.  

As for raising the minimum training requirement as a way to encourage higher wages at the massage chains, I don't think that would matter.  As long as they can get MTs to take the jobs at the pay they offer, pay will never increase.  I, personally, am not threatened by the chains - after all, Supercuts didn't put the high-end salons out of business.  I don't compete on price, I compete on the level of service and the quality of work I provide.  

I've been a Massage Therapist for almost 12 years and I don't think even after all that time I've learned "everything."

Annie Ueber said:

I agree.  I never thought 500 hrs was enough to cover everything. 

I had a client the other day.. That joined ME or someone like them..  She paid to join their thing because with the membership she gets one free massage a month.  Then she visits the spa where I work(in her words) to get a good massage twice a month....      She gets massages three times a month..   I agree with Pete L Blanco s statement.

Pete L Blanco II said:

I think 500 hours is a good place to start.  As Gordon stated, more training (at the entry level) doesn't necessarily make better therapists.  I think the entry level training should give the graduate a good grasp on A&P and the ability to perform a "decent" massage - everything beyond that can be learned via on-the-job experience and CEUs.  

As for raising the minimum training requirement as a way to encourage higher wages at the massage chains, I don't think that would matter.  As long as they can get MTs to take the jobs at the pay they offer, pay will never increase.  I, personally, am not threatened by the chains - after all, Supercuts didn't put the high-end salons out of business.  I don't compete on price, I compete on the level of service and the quality of work I provide.  

Not sure I can say it any better than Gordon and Pete!  Well said, guys!  I agree with you.

Everyone thinks that ME is evil for paying MT's what they do, but as it's been pointed out, MT's are willing to work for that.  It's really important to remember that, I think.

You raise a good question, Stacey! Why would we at ABMP, as a professional organization and a leader in the industry, not be supportive of an increase in educational requirements?

If you wanted to get into the nitty gritty of our legislative positions you'd need to talk to Jean Robinson (ABMP's Legislative Director, jean@abmp.com) or Les Sweeney (President of ABMP, les@abmp.com), but I can give you the basics in this case.

To phrase it simply, we believe that more education isn't better; better education is better. Arbitrarily raising the number of required hours doesn't do anything if you don't specify what is to be done with those extra hours of education. At the same time, raising the hours in one state to be more than that of most other states hurts license reciprocity, and can make it harder for MTs to practice when moving to that state after their initial education and licensing was completed in a state that required less hours.

So theoretically, we could support a bill in the future that requires more hours, if it gives good reasons and guidelines for what's to be done with those hours, but we don't think that raising hourly requirements is a good thing in and of itself—there has to be a reason for the increase.

Best,
Abram Herman
Social Media Coordinator at ABMP

Whats interesting is that there are chiropractors billing insurance companaines over $300.00 an hour for massage therapy.  Often, the therapists that do the work are no more experienced then the ones that work at ME.   And another thing to think about... Everyone thinks that they can go to school for around a year, get out, and start making $50 to $100 an hour...These massage schools are just pumping out the students....cycle after cycle...and this is going on in every city in the US....And another thing to think about.. What if, like us, chiropractors could not directly bill insurance companies.. There woud be chiropractic ME.

I've been a MT for almost 12 years - longer than the chains have been in existence.  When I started, spas and chiros were already underpaying us; this isn't something that started with the chains and was copied by chiros and spas; this is something that we've allowed to be done to our industry for a long time.

Desperation is never a good bargaining position - I feel for MTs who NEED to work (after all, on some level don't we all NEED to work?) but the applicant's desperation isn't justification for an employer to increase the wage they pay or to change their entire business model.  Nor is someone's unwillingness or inability to work for themselves.  

When I started, I spent time looking for a job only to find that the pay and working conditions were not to my liking, so rather than work for a chiro or a spa and accept $17/hour (which was the highest rate I was offered back in 2002) I bit the bullet and opened my own practice and worked my butt off building a clientele and supporting myself on my savings until my business was able to support itself.  If a therapist isn't "cut out to be self-employed," they do have another option you failed to mention.  They have the option of going back to school to learn the skills they lack in order to be self-employed.  

I don't care much for the chains - I generally compare them to Walmart or McDonald's - however, they have carved out their niche in the marketplace and I don't think they're going anywhere any time soon.  That said, I stand by my original point - as long as WE (Massage Therapists) continue accepting low paying jobs, be they at a chain or chiro office or spa, those jobs aren't ever going to be any better than they are now.  It starts with us...


Annie Ueber said:

MT's are willing to work for that bc they are desperate for a job.  Some people don't like to work for themselves, but since the pay for an employed therapist is poverty now, we have to look at the company that started the downward spiral in pay.  ME and Massagio and like franchises, but primarily ME.  And they offer scholarships to the schools for the students.  So therapists are desperate bc almost everyone - spas, chiropractors etc- have seen ME get away with it, and have followed suit...have not just lowered their pay, but significantly lowered their pay.  To find a 50/50 split is like a miracle these days (and what I considered a bad deal 20 years ago) and that 50/50 split requires the therapist to do 75% of the load.  Mostly its minimum wage or $10/hr for a massage.   And I have researched this countrywide, so I know what I'm talking about.  And I have been around a long time and watched the changes.  We can support therapists to work for themselves, but some people aren't cut out to be self-employed, so their choices now are work themselves to death for no pay, or go back to school for something else.  To not hold these places of businesses accountable is a mistake.  It is part of my mission to make them answer to fair wages and treatment.  The problem is getting worse.  At the rate things are going, we will be known for working for tips like servers at a restaurant.

Therese Schwartz said:

Not sure I can say it any better than Gordon and Pete!  Well said, guys!  I agree with you.

Everyone thinks that ME is evil for paying MT's what they do, but as it's been pointed out, MT's are willing to work for that.  It's really important to remember that, I think.

Let me start by clarifying something: I don't work for ABMP nor am I employed by this forum so ME doesn't advertise with *me* nor do Massage Therapists (underpaid or otherwise) buy *my* insurance.  

Where I am located, as late as 2008 I could name at least 1 day spa that started MTs off at $9/hour.  (And it was a chiro who offered me $17/hour in 2002)  Regional differences aside, we actually do AGREE that our work should be valued at more than "$7-$20/massage."  Where you and I differ is where we place the responsibility.  No one is forcing anyone to work for any of the franchise chains in existence.  Just like no one forces anyone to work for a chiropractor, a day spa or anywhere else.  We're not talking about sweatshops or forced labor camps.  If someone takes a job doing massage and agrees to be paid $7-$20/massage," aren't THEY also responsible for undervaluing their time/efforts?  

My point about going back to school to pick up more skills doesn't preclude anyone from working while they do it nor does it preclude them from doing it while paying off any student loan debt.  Many people work full-time and take classes in their off hours.  It's what you do in order to be successful in the field in which you wish to work.

Every field has people working in it who aren't cut out to be self-employed.  If you're not cut out for self-employment, you have two choices: 1) take a job at a lower rate of pay than what you can earn being self-employed or 2) augment your skills so you can successfully work for yourself and reap all the rewards of your efforts.  While I don't much care for the chains, I refuse to demonize them for providing jobs to people who are either unable or unwilling to provide themselves with anything better.  Nor do I fear them or view them as my competition.  Supercuts didn't put high-end salons out of business, McDonald's didn't put high-end restaurants out of business and the chains won't put me out of business but, if you want to put the chains out of business, that won't happen as long as we (meaning massage therapists) continue working there.  (I personally have never even stepped foot in one.)


Annie Ueber said:

The desperation is stemming from not finding any job in the industry any more that pays anything.  I've been around 23 years and I've watched it decline.  Just like some PTs aren't cut out or liking the idea of working for themselves, some MTs aren't either.  And spas have always paid higher commissions, even back in 2002, they were 45-50% with no side duties.  chiropractors were $10 for every 10 min or so working an arm or a shoulder.  I actually saw the huge downslide with the spread of the chains.  And going back to school just because employers aren't paying respectable wages to learn more when one is already in school debt and needing to work should not have to be the case.  I know ME advertises with you, but in the long term scheme of things, if MTs can't afford to buy your insurance any longer bc they make minimum wage, then where is that leaving the industry?  Our work is WAY too difficult to be valued at $7-$20/massage.  You have your opinion, but I do know what I'm talking about.

Ok..Ive been doing body work for thity years..  Im not saying Im better then anyone else...but there is a difference in skill sets and abilities between massage therapists.  New therapists are not even close to my skill set.. How can they be?  Thirty years of almost every day doing massage.  Im better then I was two years ago even.  New therapists can not expect to make top of the line money.  But I do agree that anything under twenty an hour is an insult.    Now what I do feels easy, becuase Im experienced...  I had a client not too long ago that could not abduct her arm very high without pain.. She had been seeinga chiropractor and his massage therapists twice a week for four months, with no imporvement.. I right away, before she even got on my table palpated her infraspinatus.  She gave me me a big nocioceptive flinch as I touch her..  I asked her if the chiro that examind her or the therapists that worked on her ever touched her there... She said no.  I touched her there and in one minute that trigger point was gone...she could abduct her arm without pain for the first time in months...What Idid was  a no brainer and easy... She told me the massage therapists gingerly worked around the area as not to cause further damage...and the chiro just did his bone cracking... I wonder what  was billed to the insurane company for that uselles therapy....My opinion...they are not really teaching the true potential of soft tissue work in these schools.. she had a very simple problem...my goodness...and thats not an isolated case...They are teaching massage therapists to run to a medical doctor when massage is the best thing for carpal tunnel... I just cant believe it... and they are conditioning new massage therapists to know they are of  a lesser profession then chiropractic... You dont need advanced medical training to help people out of pain in the vast majority of cases..  We grovel to work under other professionals.. and trained to do so...a while back I met a chiropractor that told me he is a carpal tunnel specialist..  he showed me what he did.. it was massage... he called it Active Release..  I learned that years and years  ago... helped many carpal tunnel people.. Many.. It was called Soft Tissue Release...I bought the video tapes years ago.....As just one example.. the schools could empower therapists to know we can cure and prevent carpal tunnel.. CAuse its true... thats just one example... but no  instead they are trained to run to a doctor or a chiro.... Massage schools need to teach and instil this truth... If there is no underlying pathology, its soft tissue work all the way,,,80% of the time anyway.... We should be dominating the ache and pain industry... thats why Im in here....the vast majority of pain, is muscular....and thats within our scope of practice... Massage schools dont teach reality... we are getting low pay because of ourselves... a different mindset needs to be taught... we dont need long medical training and more tests...What  i do is simple.....No one touched the womens infraspinatus..  Why?   What good was her massages ? Where did  they go to school?    ok Im rambling... gotta go to work...

Pete, thank you, thank you, thank you for your straightforward and simple posts about this.  We have a real issue in this country with accepting personal responsibility, and that needs to change.  This comment will probably not be popular, but it seems that massage therapists tend toward a victim mentality.  I know from personal experience; I've worked long and hard to eliminate mine.  I wish that more people could realize that they do not have to give away their personal power.  But, with power comes responsibility.  I've worked hard to build my own practice and carve out a niche for myself in my town (and region).  If something doesn't work, it's all on me.  If something works wonderfully, it's all on me too.

In case anyone is thinking that Gordon is exaggerating about MT"s and carpal tunnel, my personal MT just had carpal tunnel surgery, even after I pointed out all of the muscle issues that were creating it during her last massage with me.  I have switched to a new MT - a client of mine that I've mentored over the last 18 months and she's doing really good work. She is taking as many CE classes as time and money allow, and is really helping people.

Therese, thank you for that.  

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