With all the talk of labor shortages in the massage and spa markets, are we missing an important demographic? I am referring to people aged 50 and much older. The American population is aging and massage therapy is a great career for people 50 and older.
According to the latest US Census, the over-65 age group grew the fastest between 2010 and 2021, with its population increasing by 38%. Currently, 30% of massage therapists are between 30 and 40 years old and 53% of massage therapists are over 40 years old. By 2024, one in four massage therapists will be over 55 if they stay in the massage business.
Approximately 23,000 openings for massage therapists are projected each year. Many of these openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who change jobs or retire. With a flexible schedule and part-time work, I believe massage therapy can be a great career for therapists for those well past the typical retirement age.
Massage therapist Ed Mohr, 69, of Lake Orion Michigan is an example of someone working into his advanced years. He works in a LaVida Massage franchise, after 33 years in the corporate world.
There are benefits to being more mature as a massage therapist. The 60+ workforce generally seeks a less physically demanding part-time schedule. That, plus the controlled physical activity of massage and the social interaction that can come from working as a massage employee, are all big benefits for this demographic.
Massage therapist Christine N. Costianes, 67, Indianapolis Indiana, is another example of a successful part-time older therapist. She works for Franciscan Health in Indiana, seven days a month, the second, third and fourth Tuesday and Wednesday, plus a Saturday.
She says her schedule allows her to take vacations of about two weeks a month. “I love it,” Costianes said. “That’s all I need. My schedule is made up of all regular clients who have permanent appointments for the whole year. »
Knowledge, experience and evolution
Being part of the over 50 population myself, at 69 I can personally attest to the knowledge and experience gained over half a century of living in a time of accelerating change, challenge and technological advancements.
My career as a massage therapist of over 45 years has changed with age. I have always worked full time as a massage therapist. As a single mother for many years, my massage therapy business was our only source of income. Even after opening a massage therapy school and becoming a textbook author, I worked full time in massage therapy. For many of those years, my clients were professional athletes.
I worked full time until I was 60, then I reduced my schedule to part time.
As I got older, I noticed changes in my stamina. Today, I don’t want to work with 300-pound NFL linemen. I only see long-time clients who are often retired athletes.
My children are grown and my income from multiple streams matches my modest lifestyle. Personal experiences from the past influence my confidence in recommending massage therapy as a career to people 50 and older.
Many employers are now looking for mature workers. A Department of Labor study found that older workers are more likely to stay in a job long term. Among all age groups, workers over 55 show the highest levels of positive work engagement.
Employment as a massage therapist is convenient for this demographic. As a rule, the economic objective is additional income. The main objective is to render service and help others. As an employee, there is no pressure to start a business. It is possible and desirable to work part-time. Employers will be accommodating if intentions are clear.
I love my older crew. [They are] reliable, knowledgeable and stable where they are in life,” said Ezralea Robbins, CEO of Mountainside Spa and Spa Owner-Manager at Ezralea Inc. Day Spa Management & Consulting in Holladay, Utah. “The old ones are rocking! When I find people over 45 in second careers, they put down roots and are satisfied.
Of course, it is also possible to be self-employed as an older massage therapist. This population has life experiences that can support business development.
“I am a 66 year old retired landscape contractor turned MT, [and] I can’t think of a more satisfying retirement career,” said Cynthia Curlin-Barrett, a freelance massage therapist practicing in Memphis, Tennessee.
Lifespan versus lifespan
The over 50 age group creates its own future. This population chooses to concentrate on its lifetime instead of their lifetime.
Lifespan is the length of time an individual can function independently and enjoy life comfortably in an environment of their choice. That’s why as we age, the choices we make about our lifestyle become even more important. Age-related changes in stamina, strength, or sensory perception occur.
Generally, information processing slows down as we age, and older people find it harder to multitask. Much of the quality aging literature recommends staying mentally engaged, learning new things, being physically active, managing stress, and engaging in positive social interactions. Becoming a massage therapist and working as a massage therapist can achieve all of these recommendations.
Are you considering a new career?
These tips are for anyone considering a career in massage:
• Focus on learning fundamental therapeutic massage.
• At first, avoid incorporating multiple forms and styles of massage and bodywork, as this can be confusing.
• Learn and practice effective body mechanics that use efficiency of movement rather than all the “fancy” tricks.
• Use a hydraulic/electric lift table and adjust the height to allow efficient movement.
• Avoid using massage approaches that involve intense and aggressive deep pressure.
• Modify your massage therapy work schedule to best suit your stamina and lifestyle.
• Choose the work environment that best supports you and work with people who respect you.
• Choose clients who best reflect your individual skills, stamina, physical abilities and passion to serve.
Rethinking future careers
There are certainly young people – and by that I mean 18 to 40 year olds – who enter a massage school. They are the future massage therapists and leaders of our massage organizations.
Yet, as the American population, which includes many of today’s practicing massage therapists, continues to age, it is worthwhile for therapists and employers of massage therapists to consider how a career in massage can be reshaped to adapt to the person. coming.
About the Author
Sandy Fritz is a founding member of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education and author of massage textbooks, including “Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage”; “Mosby’s Essential Sciences for Therapeutic Massage: Anatomy, Physiology, Biomechanics and Pathology”; and “Sports and Exercise Massage: Comprehensive Care for Athletics, Fitness and Rehabilitation”. His articles for MASSAGE magazine include “Old Myths Die Hard: The Truth About Toxins” and “The Massage Profession Needs to Face the Future—United.”