Home  »  Getting Your Degree   »   Become a Massage Therapist with Your GI Bill®

Become a Massage Therapist with Your GI Bill®

massage therapist GI Bill

Less School, More Pay: Become a Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is a popular career choice that focuses on both treatment for specific ailments and overall health and wellness. An education and training in massage therapy is typically found as a postsecondary certificate program and as an associate degree program.  But does the GI Bill pay for massage therapy school?

What do Massage Therapists do?

Massage therapists treat clients by using touch to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. Yet, massage therapy is much more than a Swedish or Shiatsu massage when on vacation. Massage therapists work in a wide variety of settings including:

  • Physicians’ offices
  • Rehab Clinics
  • Spas
  • Wellness clinics
  • Hotels
  • Fitness centers
  • Client’s homes

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that in the next decade, job opportunities for massage therapists are expected to increase 22%.

Increased awareness of the health benefits of massage therapy has created rapid growth for professional opportunities in this field. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that in the next decade, job opportunities for massage therapists are expected to increase 22%. This is much faster than average when compared to the average US job growth rate of 7%.

Pay for Massage Therapists

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for massage therapists is $42,000. The median annual wages for massage therapists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:


Offices of chiropractors $52,000
Offices of all other health practitioners $47,000
Personal care services $40,000
Accommodation $30,000


The highest 10% of wages for massage therapists is over $80,000. Most massage therapists also earn a considerable amount of tips, which may not be factored into average wages for this occupation.

Does the GI Bill pay for massage therapy school?

The short answer is yes.  The GI Bill can pay for massage therapy school and certificate or degree programs.  You can find GI Bill approved schools with massage therapy programs here.  However, you will always need to check with the school to ensure that your program of choice is actually covered by the GI Bill.

Education and Training for Massage Therapy

Massage therapists typically complete a postsecondary education program of 500 or more hours of study and experience. Programs include both classroom study and hands-on practice of massage techniques. Programs cover subjects such as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, business management, and ethics. Students may also choose to specialize in a particular area treatment. Massage Therapy can span a variety of specialties including:

  • Injury Therapy
  • Headache Treatment
  • TMJ Treatment
  • Manual Lymph Drainage Therapy (MLD)
  • Craniosacral Therapy
  • Prenatal Massage

A degree or certification in Massage Therapy is also a popular benchmark and steppingstone for those wishing to advance their education in related fields such as Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy.

Most states regulate massage therapy and require massage therapists to have a license or certification. Currently 45 states (and the District of Columbia) have regulations concerning massage therapy. Regulations at the local levels may also apply.

Regulations typically require graduation from an approved massage therapy program and passing an exam. The most popular exam process is the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) licensure exam, offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

Massage therapists may also need to pass a background check, have liability insurance, and be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Continuing education credits to periodically renew licensure is also common.

Ready to Become a Massage Therapist?

Many massage therapists do not work a typical 9-5 job. Because therapists work by appointment in most cases, their schedules and the number of hours worked each week can vary considerably. Many massage therapists choose to work part time while others may choose to work a busier schedule facilitated by seasonal, vacation, and tourist demand.

Successful massage therapists benefit from the following skills and attributes:

Communication skills

Massage therapists need to listen and hear clients concerns and their goals of massage therapy treatments. Kindness and empathy are also immensely helpful in establishing trust and giving clients a positive experience, both for repeat customers and to expand the client base.


Massage therapists often have access to sensitive client details such as medical histories. Therefore, they must be trustworthy and professional to protect the privacy of their clients.

Stamina, strength, and dexterity

Massage therapists must be strong (especially in their hands and arms) when administering treatments as well as having the stamina for long appointment sessions and multiple appointments in a row.

Critical thinking skills

Massage therapists must evaluate each client’s goals and recommend the best treatment on the basis of that person’s needs. Must also be able to trouble shoot issues as they arise using knowledge, training, and external resources.

Time-management skills

Must use appointment times wisely to help accomplish goals of each session. Must be able to use time efficiently when taking care of business-oriented tasks such as scheduling, payments, etc.

Ready to earn your certificate or degree in Massage Therapy?

Check out these great programs available at our partner school!

Arizona School of Integrative Studies Certificate in Massage Therapy

Offers a Certificate Program in Massage Therapy. ASIS is a private vocational school with 4 locations in Arizona. Certificate programs run 7 months to 1.5 years. ASIS is a GI Bill approved school. Students should check with the school to ensure their preferred program is covered by the GI Bill. Students at ASIS can enroll in a certificate program which will earn them their Arizona License and prepare them to sit the MBLEx.  For more info, please go here.

Find GI Bill®-approved Massage Therapy programs for Military and Veterans





About the author

Lori Waddell serves as Co-director of an emergency response COAD in Montana, a freelance writer, and an Air Force Key Spouse. She is passionate about empowering communities and individuals through knowledge and resources. She currently lives in Montana with her husband and two children.