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I'm interested in what people think are minimum qualifications for teachers in massage schools. What does it take to teach at the entry level in a career school? What in particular would be qualifications to teach massage modalities? Is that different from minimum qualifications to teach the sciences, or the so-called softer courses of business, ethics and communications?

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I believe, here in Hawaii, you have to be licensed for a period of three years before you can 'teach' massage.
Hi Jan,
I teach in MA at a tech school. Our reqs. are that you have been in the business at least 5 years. Then you have to get state certified for each class you want to teach, which is basically submitting all your experience to the state.
I also think it would be good to be nationally certified, but that's just my opinion. Most of the teachers at my school have been doing massage between 15-20 yrs. and are nationally certified. Not all of us teach anatomy, physiology, and pathology, but we all do teach ethics, business, psychology of the body, as well as all the bodywork classes.
Hope this helps. Do you teach now?
Lori
I no longer teach, but I did for 10 years. I think I should have been more clear in my original post. Every state seems to have different requirements for teachers (if they have any), as they do for educational requirements to get licensed. A better question would be, what are the optimal requirements to teach in a massage school? Being licensed for three years doesn't, by itself, give people the skills they need to teach. I was thinking about this as I read a post in another site where someone commented about the quality of massage they are getting as they travel around the country is diminishing considerably. Although it can't be the only variable, I do wonder about the quality and training of our teachers.

Lori Gonyou said:
Hi Jan,
I teach in MA at a tech school. Our reqs. are that you have been in the business at least 5 years. Then you have to get state certified for each class you want to teach, which is basically submitting all your experience to the state.
I also think it would be good to be nationally certified, but that's just my opinion. Most of the teachers at my school have been doing massage between 15-20 yrs. and are nationally certified. Not all of us teach anatomy, physiology, and pathology, but we all do teach ethics, business, psychology of the body, as well as all the bodywork classes.
Hope this helps. Do you teach now?
Lori
I believe this should depend on what topic one is proposing to teach and possibly on the level (beginner, intermediate, advanced/CE) and prior educational attainment of one's typical student.
1. Entry level - this typically is determined by State requirement for vocational educators.
2. Massage modalities - This is troublesome because of the numerous trademarked/legally protected modalities and the reality that clients (and many massage practitioners) don't generally know how to distinguish or clearly describe the techniques used by one modality from those used by the myriad others.
3. Sciences - Since clients don't typically expect/want a specialist's perspective re anatomy, physiology, pathology, etc., this does not appear to require a University degree.
4. Business, ethics & communication - My opinion in this area is highly biased. I'm an MBA with 30 plus years of corporate/entrepreneurial experience and 9 years experience teaching this topic to massage students and supervising a student intern clinic in California. Put briefly:
a. I don't find massage students/practitioners uniquely prone to ethical violations
b. There appears to be a vast and irreconcilable difference between the personality of one who is judged by clients to be a "world-class" massage practitioner and one who is a successful business person (highly paid professional).
It would depend in part on what that particular state requires. The higher the requirements for a massage license and training in that state the higher the requirements for an instructor. A minimum for any state should be 3-5 years of full time practice or a BA degree in a health science along with a massage license and a minimum of 1 years practice. You cannot teach what you have not done. If you are teacing a different modality then basic swedish massage then you should have training and certification in that modality. Since I am against the misrepresentation of the National boards, which are not completely nationally recognized I do not think national certification at this time should be required. But in the field time is a requirement.
When I started attending massage school, NC did not yet have licensing for MTs. My school was only 525 hours; in the decade + since then I have completed probably 400-500 hours of continuing education. I've been an approved provider of continuing ed myself since 2002. I'm a college graduate, and taught for a couple of years in public schools as well. I attended North Carolina's Effective Teacher Training during that time, and have complete confidence in my own teaching ability, but I know that my initial massage education was much less than what is required in many states, or offered in many schools, even though it may not be a legal requirement.

I'm sure some of the students I've taught know more than I do, and were just fulfilling their obligation to obtain continuing education when they attended my class. One of my spa classes, for instance, was attended by a therapist from Canada a couple of years ago. I immediately acknowledged to the class that her education was far superior to mine and asked her why she was attending, and she replied it was because she couldn't find any CE in spa techniques in Canada!

We now have requirements for teaching in NC that didn't exist when I was a student. Teachers must have at least two years of experience and have attended specific teacher training. Instructors who are teaching ethics, sciences etc must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree with at least 12 hours of college-level education in the area they are teaching. People who are licensed in other professions, such as chiropractors or PTs may also teach in massage programs without jumping through any hoops.

However, since NC is one of those states that only requires 500 hours of massage education for licensure, that's still the norm that most of our teachers have. There are only a few schools here that have 600-750 hour programs.

I'm approved as an organization, and I normally host about a dozen other teachers a year at my facility. I am often approached by people who want to teach a class, and they think they're a good teacher--and yet, they don't even know what a list of measurable learning objectives should look like or have a valid lesson plan. They seem to think it's okay if it's all in their head. Not!

Lori's comment about requiring teachers to be nationally certified, which incidentally I am, is interesting....as you yourself (Jan Schwartz) have pointed out to me, you'd be lowering your own standards to obtain that credential! Your qualifications are much more than what they accept, so why bother? National certification means you have met a minimum standard. This is just one more reason the NCBTMB should be working on offering advanced certifications. Perhaps that would have the effect of the states requiring more stringent qualifications of instructors.
One of the things that I think is interesting whenever this topic is brought up is that people tend to focus on emphasizing teaching requirements reflecting the professional practice requirements. For example, a teacher should need to be licensed/credentialed as a practitioner for x number of years. I do think it is important to have knowledge and skills of the clinical practice. However, there is rarely ever mention of skills or training in topics such as learning theory, classroom management, instruction design, assessment methods, etc. These are the skills that are needed by teachers (and rarely taught to many massage educators). These are skills that should be getting more attention when speak about training teachers regardless of the number of hours in the entry level practitioner training.
Given the unquestionable decline of USA educational output during the past 30 or so years, I would like to see unimpeachable evidence that current mainstream learning theory, classroom management, instruction design, assessment methods, etc, would, at a reasonable cost, significantly advance our profession's efforts to safely enhance the public welfare.

Whitney Lowe said:
One of the things that I think is interesting whenever this topic is brought up is that people tend to focus on emphasizing teaching requirements reflecting the professional practice requirements. For example, a teacher should need to be licensed/credentialed as a practitioner for x number of years. I do think it is important to have knowledge and skills of the clinical practice. However, there is rarely ever mention of skills or training in topics such as learning theory, classroom management, instruction design, assessment methods, etc. These are the skills that are needed by teachers (and rarely taught to many massage educators). These are skills that should be getting more attention when speak about training teachers regardless of the number of hours in the entry level practitioner training.
Well - each state probably has some teacher standards for vocational school teachers that can be pointed to for examples. But, those are mostly related to a minimum number of years spent in the profession - ranges from 2-5 yrs generally. There really isn't much on qualifications as a "teacher" - like course planning, grading, classroom management, knowledge of specific subject matter. Until these standards are established by vocational school regulators and/or COMTA I don't see anything improving. I quit teaching at a massage school after 20+ years - for many reasons - but one of the most out-of-integrity points that I couldn't live with was inexperienced teachers in the classroom. I'm talking about someone who has never taken anything more than the massage school A&P courses teaching an advanced A&P section, one that doesn't have a treatment/orthopedic based practice teaching those classes, and administrations that refuse to offer any real teacher training in how to be a teacher - just assist one term then you are a teacher. Plus - there are no peer reviews or in-class evaluations done by anyone who is trained to do teacher evaluations and offer feedback on how to improve. It seems that the most valuable teacher is the one who has the least amount of experience and training because they are the cheapest to put in the classroom, and they don't know what they don't know so they don't complain to or question administration. So unless a regulatory body like the state or COMTA gets involved - there will be no improvement here.

I think 3 years in the field is sufficient work experience in most cases, but the driving factor needs to be teacher training or accreditation, not just experience in the workforce . Some advanced course work in the sciences needs to be required for those teaching these classes- even passing a test would be OK with me. Those with "teaching experience" that is not in a classroom - more like the corporate training model - have a reasonable amount of experience, but its not the same thing. Doing a one-time presentation of information in-front of a specific group of folks that have "signed up for this" is not the same as teaching the same group of people with variable levels of interest, learning styles and skills, and unique individual histories for 12-20 weeks, or in some cases for an entire year. If a teacher is teaching an assessment and treatment class, or a specific modality like lymphatic or myofascial, they need to show an advanced certificate in that area. I'm not sure what requirements would be good for the business, ethics, communications courses. Perhaps something like a peer review group that psychologists use would work.

In general, I'm all for establishing some requirements for who teaches in our massage schools. But, without being attached to school accreditation there are no teeth. I'm not sure we can get to this important piece, until we get some agreement on the body of knowledge. Let's hope the up-coming endeavor in that will be fruitful.
Ohio requires a minimum of 2 years experience as an LMT to teach massage techniques. I believe there is also a requirement that anyone teaching the "sciences" - anatomy, physiology, etc must have licensure as a teacher of said sciences, or as a physician, chiropractor, etc.

Personally, the school I attended had excellent teachers all of whom were still actively maintaining massage practices outside their teaching duties as the school. Thus, they could say, "when you are in this learning environment, it goes this way.... Out in the "real world", it's more like this..... " and really had the hands-on experience and knowledge to both inform and educate us on the differences between the "ideal" of the school setting and the "actuality" of the real world outside of school.

As far as I am concerned, both professionally and personally, legal requirements for teachers of massage should include a requirement that said instructors are still practicing professionals so that they can integrate that type of experience in to the teaching aspect of their curriculum (as I was blessed to experience) and give more relevance to the materials they are teaching.

For the "sciences", I personally and professionally believe that the individuals teaching anatomy and physiology should have teaching experience in that realm. I was blessed to attend a school where all of the teachers were either professionals in teaching a&P or in teaching other types of sciences so the "linear thinking - logical thinking" brain portions were utilized as well as the "artsy" brain used in massage practical classes. It made an enormous difference to those of us graduating from that school in our understanding and learning of those materials to have instructors who actually understood completely their materials, could make them cogent and understandable to those of us whose brains didn't quite grasp "science".

Having talked with "newbies" fresh from schools where a&p is being taught by individuals who are professional LMTs with little or no science background but still fulfill the state's requirements for educators in a massage school - I truly think that part of professional education often takes a backseat to the hands-on and theoretical training in massage that many schools in this state provide. The "newbies" have asked how I know what I know about how the muscles interact and move body parts around as if it is something that is totally foreign to their understanding. From the education I received, it was a basic requirement for getting out the door and being able to sit the state licensure exam.

I've personally taught a number of community education classes in relaxation massage and enjoyed the stress of setting up the lesson plans, objectives, remembering from my college days how to manage classrooms, etc. The massage for cosmetologists continuing education classes that I provided for a time through the local joint vocational school were required to meet specific guidelines for content - number of hours on theory, technique, anatomy, physiology, practicum, etc. as well as have available to the students materials on the above listed content (I had to develop and provide it) plus feedback forms for the Cos. Board and the JVS as well. While I was fortunate to have had the prior education in college to meet those needs, I would think it possible for many professionals who have done either public speaking, demonstrations, etc to be able to teach their subject matter effectively - especially if the curriculum guidelines were laid out for them beforehand. If the guidelines have not been set down, then, there MIGHT be a need for an individual to have some form of training in setting objectives, management of groups, etc to be able to provide the best learning situation for their students.

Then..... the nagging little voice in the back of my head says this......... if someone is good at communication with clients and peers about his/her work, skill set, etc. he/she will more than likely be able to handle the task at hand of educating future LMTs... and the internal (to me) debate rages on.

fwiw
I teach Ethics as well, and I serve on our state board. I beg to differ about therapists being prone to violations. The nature of what we do, placing our hands on naked and otherwise vulnerable people, puts us in a position that no one else is in, except for doctors and nurses who do the same. There are multiple disciplinary hearings here at every board meeting for people who have been accused of an ethics violation, nine times out of ten something sexual. While we all want to believe that everyone who comes into this profession comes with the intent of helping people, the fact is there are predators among us who have figured out that this is a good way to meet an ongoing fresh crop of victims. The questions I get from students in my continuing education classes make it evident that either their education in that area was very lacking, or they just don't understand the implications of a violation, for themselves or the client.

As for A&P, pathology etc, I find few people without a college education who are what I could refer to as a qualified science instructor. My own anatomy teacher, when I attended massage school, couldn't pronounce half the terms. I used to get so incensed at his lack of knowledge; he'd stutter around and finally say, "you know what I mean." One day I snapped and said, "Yes, I do know what you mean, and I'm paying you to say it, so I expect some professionalism." He was replaced in short order after a number of complaints.

I have found many therapists lacking in their knowledge of the sciences, especially those who were grandfathered in at time of licensure and may have had no formal education at all, or those who come from states with no requirements. I also teach prep classes for passing the exams, and I have had students in my class who have already failed 3,4,5,6 times because they are incapable of answering the questions. They may have the touch, but they don't have the knowledge. I'm not saying they can't give a good massage, but I would prefer to receive a massage from someone who knows what my psoas is and where's it's located.

Noel Norwick said:
I believe this should depend on what topic one is proposing to teach and possibly on the level (beginner, intermediate, advanced/CE) and prior educational attainment of one's typical student.
1. Entry level - this typically is determined by State requirement for vocational educators.
2. Massage modalities - This is troublesome because of the numerous trademarked/legally protected modalities and the reality that clients (and many massage practitioners) don't generally know how to distinguish or clearly describe the techniques used by one modality from those used by the myriad others.
3. Sciences - Since clients don't typically expect/want a specialist's perspective re anatomy, physiology, pathology, etc., this does not appear to require a University degree.
4. Business, ethics & communication - My opinion in this area is highly biased. I'm an MBA with 30 plus years of corporate/entrepreneurial experience and 9 years experience teaching this topic to massage students and supervising a student intern clinic in California. Put briefly:
a. I don't find massage students/practitioners uniquely prone to ethical violations
b. There appears to be a vast and irreconcilable difference between the personality of one who is judged by clients to be a "world-class" massage practitioner and one who is a successful business person (highly paid professional).
Your comment suggests that school administrators/teachers in your area don't check for, recognize and discharge predators looking to for victims?

My experience is that in legitimate massage schools, such people are quickly recognized by their classmates, teachers and even faster by clients when/if they make it into the internship program.

I have little faith in the efficacy of ethics classes to resolve a problem that seems to result from schools choosing not to fail anyone. Additionally, In Los Angeles, the police have busted several schools that were fronts for prostitution; so, I wonder if you can/would tell us more about what is going wrong in the schools/programs attended by the people you have "tried"?

Laura Allen said:
I teach Ethics as well, and I serve on our state board. I beg to differ about therapists being prone to violations. The nature of what we do, placing our hands on naked and otherwise vulnerable people, puts us in a position that no one else is in, except for doctors and nurses who do the same. There are multiple disciplinary hearings here at every board meeting for people who have been accused of an ethics violation, nine times out of ten something sexual. While we all want to believe that everyone who comes into this profession comes with the intent of helping people, the fact is there are predators among us who have figured out that this is a good way to meet an ongoing fresh crop of victims. The questions I get from students in my continuing education classes make it evident that either their education in that area was very lacking, or they just don't understand the implications of a violation, for themselves or the client.

As for A&P, pathology etc, I find few people without a college education who are what I could refer to as a qualified science instructor. My own anatomy teacher, when I attended massage school, couldn't pronounce half the terms. I used to get so incensed at his lack of knowledge; he'd stutter around and finally say, "you know what I mean." One day I snapped and said, "Yes, I do know what you mean, and I'm paying you to say it, so I expect some professionalism." He was replaced in short order after a number of complaints.

I have found many therapists lacking in their knowledge of the sciences, especially those who were grandfathered in at time of licensure and may have had no formal education at all, or those who come from states with no requirements. I also teach prep classes for passing the exams, and I have had students in my class who have already failed 3,4,5,6 times because they are incapable of answering the questions. They may have the touch, but they don't have the knowledge. I'm not saying they can't give a good massage, but I would prefer to receive a massage from someone who knows what my psoas is and where's it's located.

Noel Norwick said:
I believe this should depend on what topic one is proposing to teach and possibly on the level (beginner, intermediate, advanced/CE) and prior educational attainment of one's typical student.
1. Entry level - this typically is determined by State requirement for vocational educators.
2. Massage modalities - This is troublesome because of the numerous trademarked/legally protected modalities and the reality that clients (and many massage practitioners) don't generally know how to distinguish or clearly describe the techniques used by one modality from those used by the myriad others.
3. Sciences - Since clients don't typically expect/want a specialist's perspective re anatomy, physiology, pathology, etc., this does not appear to require a University degree.
4. Business, ethics & communication - My opinion in this area is highly biased. I'm an MBA with 30 plus years of corporate/entrepreneurial experience and 9 years experience teaching this topic to massage students and supervising a student intern clinic in California. Put briefly:
a. I don't find massage students/practitioners uniquely prone to ethical violations
b. There appears to be a vast and irreconcilable difference between the personality of one who is judged by clients to be a "world-class" massage practitioner and one who is a successful business person (highly paid professional).

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