Although Yellowknife, capital of the Northwest Territories, has only about 20,000 people, there are 15 or more massage therapists in town, and they are all busy.

Vicars graduate Shirley Harrison was one of them until the pandemic nudged her into early retirement. As in larger centres, Yellowknife RMTs work in clinics, spas or in their own homes, with the same business standards and customer service approaches. But living in a smaller Northern community means there are some unique differences.

“Everybody knows everybody,” says Shirley. “People are comfortable going into somebody’s home because office space is very expensive. I suspect that in Calgary or Edmonton, I might not want to go to somebody’s basement, but it’s normal here.”

Shirley addressed a wide range of needs in her practice, from sports injuries to pre- and post-pregnancy care, to general stress relief. “In Yellowknife a lot of people work for the Northwest Territories government and have very good extended health care benefits packages that include massage,” says Shirley.

“Many clients came to me because they wanted to use their benefits. Once they felt comfortable and safe then they wanted to see me on a monthly schedule.

The thing I’ll say about Yellowknife is that if you are pretty good at your job, and you’re consistent, you’ll have more business than you ever could imagine. I never advertised, and I was always as booked up as I wanted to be—with lovely people.

“If people are worried about the cost of the massage training program, you can recoup that very quickly,” she says

Shirley wrapped up her massage therapy career in Yellowknife sooner than she expected at the onset of Covid. Three years on, she still misses it.

“My clients were just the best in the world,” Shirley says. “There was not one person that I didn’t look forward to seeing when they came through the door.”

Like several Vicars alumni featured in this blog, Shirley trained at the Edmonton campus as a mature student. “That was a very scary thing, going back to school in my mid-forties,” Shirley says. “Not only because I was older but because I had never done anything science-based before.”

Vicars School turned out to be perfect for her. She loved the one four-day weekend per month schedule, as she still had a teenager at home. “I would fly down to Edmonton for that one weekend,” says Shirley. “When I returned home, I studied constantly because I was terrified of failing,” says Shirley. “The teachers really understood everything about being an adult student so the whole experience for me was wonderful.”

After graduation she worked for a year at a Yellowknife spa, which gave her some extra on-the-job and time management experience. By then, the last of Shirley’s three children had left home. She wanted to set up her own business, so she and her husband renovated their basement into a massage studio with a separate entrance from their home. Sometimes clients would run into each other coming or going, but no one really minded, says Shirley. It’s all part of living in a small Northern town.

More often than not, clients came in generations. “I would have the mum or dad as a client and then a grandparent would come, and then the son or daughter because they are in soccer,” says Shirley. “It was really fun to get to know families like that.”

As with other RMTs who run their own businesses, Shirley loved the flexibility of her schedule, and the work-life balance. “I started going to the gym in the evenings after my workday,” she says. “I became very fit and strong, which you have to be to do massage—and then doing massage helps you to stay fit and strong.”

One aspect of her practice caught her off-guard: her response to people’s pain. “I think many massage therapists are very sensitive people and we pick up on peoples’ energies,” Shirley says. “I know it was mentioned at school but for me to experience it was a huge surprise.”

“One time I experienced sudden neck pain, and it turned out the client had broken his neck in the past and neglected to put it on his intake form,” she says. “Or I would get headaches or become nauseated, mirroring what they felt,” she says.

Shirley had to learn to ground herself to manage her responses. Part of that involved developing a little ritual before a client arrived: “It really helped create a space between me and them.”

Shirley lives just outside Yellowknife, in the wilderness, which means she can be alone, as she says, a little bit too much. “The wonderful thing about running my business from home is that I would have to be physically and mentally prepared for clients,” she says. “I would have three or four clients a day and I would have to get out of my own head and think about them.” She loved the rhythm of seeing and caring for her clients, a gap that she’s still looking to replace.

Shirley has a couple of tips for RMTs who are thinking of working in a small community.

The first is the importance of the professional barrier between RMTs and clients, something all massage therapy students learn at Vicars, but that has special resonance in a small town. “There’s a fine line between being compassionate and getting a little bit too comfortable and too personal with your clients,” she says. “You have to keep clients at arm’s-length. You can’t become their friend.”

The second is advice she got from Janine Borger, one of her instructors, that she found particularly helpful. “I really encourage people starting out to go with their own strengths, their own personality and remember that whatever you offer and whatever your approach, people who are looking for that will find you,” Shirley says. “Go with who you really are. Don’t think you have to be somebody else because you don’t. Just be a very good version of yourself and people who want that will show up.

“I loved being a massage therapist and I’m so thankful for Vicars because it was very doable, and it really did change my life. It gave me a profession that I was proud of,” Shirley says. “When people would ask me what I did and I would say I’m a registered massage therapist, they would get that look on their face, that everybody-loves-a-massage-therapist look!”

It was a casual conversation at the doctor’s office where she worked that changed Diane Sheridan’s life.

One day a colleague’s sister dropped by for a visit and mentioned that she had just finished school. Diane asked her what she had studied. When the woman said massage therapy, Diane says it was like something went “bing” in her head.

The woman was a Vicars School of Massage Therapy graduate.

“By the end of the week, I was pretty much signed up to start,” says Diane. “I really didn’t have time to think about whether that was a good idea or not.” (Spoiler alert: it was!)

It wasn’t a completely impulsive choice, though. Diane did some research on various massage schools in Alberta before applying.

“I chose Vicars because no one else was offering the four-days-a-month program,” she says. “Really my whole reason for applying to Vicars was based on that.”

Diane applied in November hoping to be admitted at Vicars Calgary campus in January of 2019. But the schedule option she wanted to take didn’t start until the following September. Fortunately, she didn’t have to wait that long to get started with her training: she was able to begin Vicars online courses in Anatomy and Physiology and Pathology right away. As a result, by the time she started school she had a head start on the curriculum.

It was only once she was in the program did Diane realize what a great choice she had made.

“I thought that because I had a nursing degree already it would be really easy,” Diane says. “The fact that the program was challenging, and it really did exercise my brain, made me aware that Vicars took this very seriously and that it was it was a really good education.”

The four days a month at Vicars also gave her back her sense of self. Diane had moved to Sundre from England with her husband and four children nearly two decades ago and had put her nursing career on hold to raise her kids.

“When you go through life as a mum, you lose your identity a bit,” she says. “People in Sundre know me as the English gal or the twins’ mum, but for those four days a month when I attended class at Vicars, I was just Diane.”

Any qualms Diane had about her age were quickly dispelled. “We had students in our class ranging from 21 years old to me at 53,” she says. “On the first day I sat down next to one young woman, and we became fast friends straight away and have been super good friends ever since.”

Diane’s time at Vicars wasn’t entirely smooth sailing, though. Her first year of blended on-campus and online classes began in September 2019 and was supposed to continue with the same schedule until June 2020. The pandemic changed that—like everywhere else, Vicars had to temporarily shut down on-site instruction. Having a blended curriculum gave the school a leg up in adapting to the new circumstances, however, and zoom lectures started immediately.

“Vicars was right on top of the situation right away,” she says. “There wasn’t any worry that we were missing out on curriculum because we weren’t physically in class.”

The full realization of the quality of Vicars’ education for Diane happened after graduation in June 2021 when she was working in the field.

“Clients would say ‘I’ve never had this done before’ and I was thinking ‘Hang on. What are other schools teaching?’ because the particular therapy was a huge part of the Vicars approach to treatment.”

Diane had gone into massage therapy thinking that she wasn’t seeking a new career, but rather something extra she could do after her workday—massages for family and friends—given that her kids were soon graduating. “The whole premise of taking massage therapy was to exercise my brain,” says Diane. “But as I was going through school, it became very apparent that I was doing a lot of work and making a lot of sacrifices. I realized it would be stupid not to actually see this as a proper business opportunity.”

While Diane changed her mind about her approach to massage as a profession, her vision had always been to have a home-based practice.

“I had always worked for someone else, and I just didn’t want to do that anymore,” she says. “I had my massage therapy room set up even before I started school!”

Diane soft-launched her business, Beckett Park Therapeutic Massage, in August of 2021. In her planning, she had assumed that the business would take a while to build up, allowing her to keep her job at the doctor’s office. But once her doors opened, she was immediately busy.

“I had put a couple of ads in the community pages of the paper and had people calling at 11 at night and six in the morning,” says Diane. “Between my office job and my business, I was working 70 hours a week.”

It took Diane three months to hand in her notice at the doctor’s office. “It was really difficult because it was my financial safety net and I had to believe that my business would carry on and pay the bills,” she says, but: “It was the best thing I ever did.”

Two years later, Diane is earning twice what she earned in the doctor’s office, and she works half the hours.

“The whole vibe of my working life has changed and it’s amazing,” she says. “If I want to (book a) morning off to play pickleball or get a pedicure, I just do it.”

But it’s not just about the financial security.

“I have just the most amazing clients who say the most wonderful things,” says Diane. “It’s such a lift when somebody comes and says this is the best hour of their day or the best hour of their month. I just think how lucky I am that I get to do this every day.”

Diane’s clients aren’t keeping it a secret. Her business was voted number one in Sundre in The Albertan newspaper’s Peoples’ Choice Awards for massage therapy this year.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” says Diane. “I’ve only been in business for two years and I’m just so grateful to be recognized like this.”

That recognition is the icing on the cake for Diane, given how much she loves her profession. “It’s not that you’re helping people and taking away from yourself,” she says. “You’re helping people and it’s filling your cup as well.”

For Lucie Bozdech, becoming a Registered Massage Therapist wasn’t just about starting a new career. It was about starting a new life. And she couldn’t be happier with the results.

Lucie came to Canada as a little girl after fleeing Czechoslovakia, now Czechia, with her family during the Cold War.

As an adult, she wanted to discover her roots and get to know her aging grandmother better, so she went back, thinking she would be there for a short stint teaching English. She ended up staying nine years. Eventually, however—after her grandmother’s passing, a marriage, and a divorce—it was time to come home. She returned to Canada with her toddler son, looking to reinvent herself.

Lucie researched colleges and universities, trying to find a program or course of study that would resonate with her. At the urging of a good friend who was already a successful massage therapist, Lucie began looking into massage therapy, booking appointments with several schools.

The first place Lucie walked into was Vicars School of Massage Therapy in Calgary.

“As soon as I entered, I thought ‘Oh, this feels right,’” Lucie says. “Sarah [Ward-Bakken] was the presenter and she answered all my questions and I was convinced right then that this was the school for me.”

Lucie took Vicars’ full-time, two-year course, choosing the weekly class schedule.  She found she was able to work part-time, care for her son, and keep up with the required practice and at-home academic assignments.

“What made Vicars stand out for me was that they are so flexible in meeting your lifestyle needs,” she says.

Any illusions she had about massage therapy training being easy were quickly dispelled, though.

“It was extremely intense, as intense as getting a university degree,” Lucie says. But she loved every moment of it. “I’m from a medical family. Anatomy, physiology, circulation—I loved the science-based curriculum and practical knowledge.”

When she graduated in 2015 and was looking for a job, she found the Vicars School name opened doors.

“In every interview, people said with a Vicars grad they knew they would be getting a highly trained massage therapist who performed very well, hands down,” Lucie says.

Lucie found her dream job at Salt Water Wellness Centre in Cochrane, owned by a registered massage therapist, which employs eight massage therapists.

“It’s such a positive environment,” says Lucie.

Massage therapy’s stress-free, positive, nurturing aspects are huge reasons why Lucie chose it as a career. She gives an example of one of her clients, an older woman who had lost her husband after nearly 50 years of marriage, whose doctor told her to try getting a massage.

“When she came in, I felt the heaviness of the grief in the room,” says Lucie. “I slowly started talking to her during the massage and she cried and then opened up and poured her heart out to me.”

After each of her subsequent monthly massages the client left feeling a little bit better.

“The other day she gave me a hug and thanked me for helping her through the most difficult time in her life,” says Lucie. “We’re not psychologists by any means, but it’s such an intimate situation to be in and for those of us who are empathetic it can be a wonderful addition to somebody’s care.”

Another reason Lucie loves working at Salt Water is the 18-minute drive to Cochrane from her home in Calgary each day.  “On that drive I see the foothills, the mountains, and the water and I think about how lucky I am.”

The other major reason she appreciates the career is the freedom that it gives her to travel.

“I consider myself international and massage therapy is a skill that is international. When my son is done high school, I have zero qualms about moving anywhere in the world. That’s the beauty of this career: you can take it anywhere.”

Canadian massage therapy standards are among the most rigorous in the world. Vicars’ students receive 2200 hours of training, a prerequisite for provincial and national accreditation. Standards in other countries vary. Czechia, for example, requires only 150 hours of training to obtain licensing. When Lucie, who is fluent in Czech, travels with her son to Czechia each summer, she works on a casual basis for a company that offers therapeutic massage to its employees.

The other aspect of massage therapy that Lucie values is the financial reward. “You get back what you put in,” she says. “I work hard and that’s reflected immediately in my pay cheques, whereas at a nine-to-five job you can work hard but you won’t see the results until you get a promotion or raise.”

Although Lucie works hard, she is always mindful of preserving her own health and strength. She’s met younger massage therapists who have issues from giving massages because they have neglected self-care. Again, it was her Vicars instructors who drilled the importance of correct body mechanics into her during training.

“I remember that more than anything else from school,” she says. “That grounding in proper body dynamics and form is always in my head.”

Looking back on her training Lucie says that the most important aspect about Vicars is how the students were treated. “All sorts of people come to Vicars from all sorts of situations, whether they hadn’t been to school for a long time, or they had full-time jobs, or spouses and families,” she says.

“What I loved about Vicars is that they are there for you and will do everything to help you be successful.”

During the 20-plus years we’ve been teaching massage therapy, we’ve learned that there’s no such thing as a typical RMT, or a typical massage student.

Some people choose massage because they’re interested in holistic wellness; others, because they’re fascinated by human anatomy and want to be front-line health care professionals. Some have a head for business and want to own their own clinic; others want to work side-by-side with a wide range of professionals. Some want to work full-time as RMTs; some want to combine massage with their other skills.

And some are like Timmie Horvath, and can check off “all of the above.”

Timmie graduated from Vicars School of Massage Therapy in 2021. She opened her clinic, Sacred Wellness Massage Therapy and School of Healing Arts, while she was a second-year student. Business has grown so much in the last year that she’s already had to expand to a bigger location.

I recently visited Timmie at Sacred Wellness in St Albert for a clinic tour. We talked about what drew her to massage therapy, what it’s really like being your own boss, and how her Vicars education (and especially the business plan assignment) prepared her to start her own clinic.

Robin Collum: Tell me a little bit about yourself. What were you doing before you became an RMT?

Timmie Horvath: Before I came to Vicars School, I was already a holistic health practitioner and my main business was teaching wellness. I have a business called Sacred Wellness School of Healing Arts—since 2015, I’ve taught Reiki certification courses in Edmonton and the surrounding area. Before I did that, I was a licensed practical nurse in community nursing care.

I decided to go back to school to become a registered massage therapist because I was missing that one-on-one client interaction from my nursing days.

I find it so interesting that you have that combined background. On the one hand, the evidence-based science side of things, the anatomy and physiology. And on the other, the experience with alternative therapies. You have been able to combine those two points of view in your practice. And you took a big leap of faith by starting your business while you were still in second year—signing a lease and everything! Can you tell me about that experience?

If I had taken the program at a different time in my life, I suspect that I would have applied to work at a clinic or spa or somewhere. And I just want to say that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! I actually think that’s a very smart, financially stable thing to do and it can be very rewarding if you find the right fit.

But by the time I went back to school for massage therapy, I was already quite comfortable as an entrepreneur. I was still running my teaching business while I was in school. I had the feeling that because I already had a business and a brand of my own, that it just made more sense to build them together, to keep things from getting messy later on!

In my second year, I had an opportunity to rent a space in downtown St. Albert. So I went ahead and did that and started my practice—also called Sacred Wellness. It was a big risk, of course, because I was still a student and I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to building a

practice because I had to focus on school. But it was such a lovely place that I didn’t think it would be available when I had graduated.

It was really challenging to do it that way—I’m not sure I would recommend that to anyone—but it was an opportunity and it’s paid off for me.

When I graduated from school, I already had a little bit of a start on my practice. I was established in my location, and had regular clients. I recently moved to a bigger space, and I have a couple of contractors working with me. One is a Vicars student!

It must have helped that you weren’t starting a new business completely from scratch. You had already built a successful brand and had professional networks. But launching a business is still no walk in the park.

Absolutely. One of the most helpful projects was the second-year business plan assignment.

If I were to do my business plan again I would make some changes, but really not that much. It almost acted like a vision board.

I remember earlier this year looking at it and being like, “Oh my god, I did it !” The timeline wasn’t correct, obviously, I did things at a different time, but my menu of services and what I was looking to do—I actually did that!

When I was still in my first year, there were at least two second-year students who started their own businesses while they were still in school. And I remember talking to one of them and I said “How did you get approved for the loan?”

And she said, “You know that business plan assignment you’re going to have to do? That’s what I used. I sent it to the bank and they gave me the money I needed.”

I think the outcome of that business plan assignment goes one of two ways. You realize “Yeah, starting my own business is going to be hard, but I can do it.” Or you’re like, “Yikes, I don’t want to have anything to do with this!” And, either way, it’s a good thing to learn!

It really forces you to look get into the details, doesn’t it? I think that assignment is equally valuable for students who have no interest in working for themselves. It’s just as important for an employee or a contractor to understand the expenses that go into running a business, what good business practices are, and all that. It can help you negotiate a good contract for yourself.

Yeah, absolutely. And that also informs how I work with my contractors as well. Having been a contractor, I think, okay, this is what I would expect to receive to work on commission. This is what I would expect the clinic to take care of. And this is the amount of advertising.

What did you learn from doing the business plan, and the other business assignments?

It was so incredibly valuable because it really forces you to look at all of the numbers.

Now, massage in general, it’s very low overhead. Your biggest investments will be your rent and maybe your table, depending on how much money you want to spend on a table. But these things like a table you buy at once, you should use it indefinitely, right?

But I did have to accept the fact that I was going to be paying for a space and that I would just be paying out of pocket for that for however long it took. And especially being a student, I didn’t have a lot of availability. So even in my tiny amount of availability, if I booked out completely, it still wouldn’t cover all of the operational costs. And I knew that and I accepted that. I had that discussion with my husband.

And I said the benefit of this is that if I really stick it through for the six months, then I won’t be starting from scratch when I graduate.

What I really learned is that I think the biggest myth in the massage industry and maybe in business in general is that you make more money with your own business. That can be true, but it’s wrong to assume that if you’re getting paid as a contractor that you’re automatically making less money. And it’s certainly more stable.

I think people who start their own businesses are an eccentric bunch of people. Because it is not the easier path. But for me, I enjoy these things. Why knows why? [laughs]

I think Maryhelen Vicars, who founded the school, would agree with you on that!

All of this is to say that I would have done it anyway. I would have eventually ended up running my own show, and I really enjoy it. But I felt prepared to so right out of the gate because of the training that I received from Vicars School.

And I just want to share that this is probably one of the coolest things that I’ve ever done, and that it’s just really been an amazing, fulfilling career so far.


What kind of massage therapy professional do you want to be: a contractor or employee, or an “eccentric” entrepreneur striking out on their own? Whichever path you choose, a successful career starts with the right education. To begin your journey, contact our friendly admissions team by calling us toll-free at 1-866-491-0574, or sign up for a virtual open house!

massage therapy as a career

Why Being a Registered Massage Therapist Might be your Dream Job

Massage therapists provide an invaluable service to people who are in pain, recovering from injuries, or experiencing stress. Massage therapy speeds up the healing process, improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, and can help restore emotional balance.

For most massage professionals, that’s the main reason we chose this job: we care about other people. We want to help our clients get better and stay well. We’re attracted to the health care and wellness field, but we want to make more of a one-on-one connection with our clients than would be possible as an EMT or a nurse (not to mention being able to avoid the high stress, long hours, and potential burnout so common in those jobs). Massage therapy is one of the most accessible, adaptable, and personally satisfying careers in health care.

Massage therapy could be a satisfying career for you if you are empathetic, active, and ready to learn. Over our 20 years training RMTs, we hear a lot of stories about why students choose massage, and still find it rewarding five, 10 or 18 years later.

Massage therapy may be the right career for you, if:

A flexible schedule suits the way you live

With the start of covid, Canadians traded full-time, in-office jobs for work from home and setting their own hours. Post-vaccine, many of us are still doing that, or wish we could. It’s great to be able to do an errand midweek, or volunteer for the Grade Four field trip.

Massage is that flexible: block out time to accommodate your other responsibilities and make up the time by opening your calendar earlier or later a couple of days a week.

Night owls can work more evenings, and larks can start early. If you can work evenings or early mornings or weekends, you will be doing your 9-5 clients a great service, and it will give you a competitive edge.

You have had enough of office work

Some people thrive at a desk and find making sense of a balance sheet or facilitating a zoom conference suits them perfectly. If you have tried that, and it is not for you, think about a career that lets you stand up and be active while you work. As we’ve written about before, sitting is dangerous work!

You like learning about health and how bodies work

Massage is a good choice for you if you have a background in sports, yoga Pilates, or another health care field. Much of the massage school curriculum is about the human body and how it works. You will graduate with a thorough knowledge of the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the systems most affected by massage therapy.

You don’t have be an expert on human anatomy before you start our program, though! We have designed our program to be accessible to students from all backgrounds. If you meet the basic academic entrance requirements, the only other things you need are a passion for the subject matter and a willingness to work hard. This is thanks to the quality of our curriculum material, and the way we teach it.

Often, our best students are people who were nervous about going back to school because they weren’t star students in high school, or because it’s been a while since they were last in a classroom.

Our program is built specifically to meet the needs of adult learners, and our blended-learning program can accommodate the different ways that students learn. Learning the science, theory, and other academic material when it’s combined with hands-on learning and you can apply the knowledge in a practical way.

“I’m not much of a classroom person – I find it hard to sit and listen to a lecture,”, says Karen Goforth, a 2017 Vicars grad. “So that it was only four classroom days a month worked really well for me. It was hands-on and I got to learn a lot of information in a short amount of time, and then take it home and digest it myself and reread. That setup worked really well for the way that I like to learn.”

You want be fully qualified and ready to practice in less than two years

Massage therapy is one of the most accessible of the health care careers.

In regulated provinces, massage schools are required to teach anatomy and physiology, pathology, orthopedic assessment, treatment planning, medical terminology, and other subjects to a specified standard. Their hands-on education includes many hours of supervised work experience. When they meet their first clients as RMTs, they have the knowledge and experience they need to be fully effective.

In unregulated provinces, providing this level of preparation for national “entry-to-practice” standards is optional. It is expensive for schools to meet the standards, but good schools know it is what our graduates need for success.

MH Vicars School was an early adopter of the national standard and one of the first schools in Alberta to have achieved accreditation from CMTCA, the same authority that accredits schools in the regulated provinces: BC, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and PEI. 

You want job security and a living wage

As standards for the profession have risen across Canada, the profile of the well-trained professional has risen with it. Good massage therapists are in higher demand than ever. Research evidence of the value of massage piles up, and it has become increasingly common for other health professionals to view RMTs as part of their patients’ health care team. Doctors regularly recommend massage for rehabilitation following surgery or injury, to promote flexibility and increase range of motion for older adults and people with disabilities, and to provide relief to those with chronic pain.

And with this growth in respect from other professions and the public, job security for RMTs is better than ever. Most years, between 95-98% of our grads are fully employed (or working as much as they want to) by the end of their first year in the profession. Even with covid precautions in place, our grads report that they’re booked for weeks or even months in advance. Especially in smaller centres, many are no longer accepting new clients.

Talent.com reports an average salary of $67,500 for massage therapists across Canada (higher in regulated provinces). Your income will rise as you build a reputation for effectiveness, and generally be higher if you are self-employed.

You can be your own boss

Massage therapists can work anywhere that they want to. You can find MH Vicars graduates in dedicated massage clinics, in clinics or health centres alongside physiotherapists and chiropractors, at gyms, at corporate or industrial work sites, at resorts and hotels, and even in their own homes.

Most Vicars graduates work for themselves. They rent a room in a larger clinic or a gym, have clinic space in their own homes, or start and operate clinics that employ other massage therapists or other practitioners.

 

The Massage Therapy Program at Vicars could be the pathway to your ideal career. We have campuses in Calgary and Edmonton and a schedule that is designed to work with your lifestyle. For more information and to speak with our friendly admissions team, call us toll-free 1-866-491-0574 or sign up for an online open house!

 

6 tips how to choose a massage school

Ready to Begin Your New Career?
This Essential Info Will Help You Get Started

Massage therapy is a thriving, in-demand career, ideal for people from all walks of life who put “helping others” at the top of their career bucket list. It’s also a career very well suited to those who are curious about physiology and how the human body works. If you’ve ever thought about a career in massage therapy, your next step will be choosing the right massage therapy school or program for you. 

To help you on your journey, here are a few tips to help you research your options. 

1.     Make sure it’s a licensed school

Your success as a massage therapist depends, in large part, on the quality of your massage therapy education. In order to provide the best health care to your clients, and to navigate the business side the career, you need to attend a school that has a strong curriculum, qualified instructors, and offers a practicum that is fully supervised and integrated into the curriculum.  

It’s essential that you attend a school that’s properly licensed by the government. The only schools that are licensed by the Province of Alberta to provide Massage Therapy Certification (as part of a two-year program) are listed with Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education. Only students who attend a full-time, licensed program are eligible to apply for provincial and federal student loans and grants. 

But in Alberta, where massage is not a regulated profession, government licensing is the bare minimum to look for in a school. Unfortunately, making sure that a school is licensed isn’t enough to make sure that you’re going to get a good education, or have an enjoyable student experience. That’s because the Alberta government doesn’t monitor the contents or quality of a school’s curriculum, which has led to a lot of variation among massage programs in Alberta. 

There is no single standard for course content, subject matter, academic standards, facilities, or faculty qualifications that all schools need to follow. There are few advertising standards, and little to protect prospective students from high-pressure or misleading sales tactics. 

2.     Find out what the professionals have to say

So where else can you look to find out if a school is going to prepare you for a long, successful career? We recommend looking through the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta’s Approved Programs list. To make it onto the list, schools and programs must comply with Canada’s massage education entry-to-practice standard  and meet demanding criteria for program delivery methods and instructor qualifications. This list is also a useful tool to hold schools accountable for what they teach, ensuring that all students get the best quality education possible. (Full disclosure: we were the first private school added to the list) 

From there, you can start to look at the details of each program to decide whether it’s right for you. 

It’s also a great idea to chat with your own massage therapist. Where did they go to school? Would they recommend it? What do they know about other programs based on their conversations with colleagues, or their experiences as employers? 

3.     Learn your local massage therapy standards

In order to work in a province where massage is not government regulated, you need to become a member of one of the professional associations that operate in that province. In Alberta, those associations include the Massage Therapists Association of Alberta and the National Health Practitioners of Canada.  (It’s a great idea to reach out to an association in your province as you research your education options! But be careful—some associations are owned by or linked to particular schools. So make sure you’re getting an independent opinion). 

If you want to work in BC, Ontario, or another province where massage therapy is a regulated profession, you will have to go through a few more steps to become registered after you graduate.  

All of those provinces require you to pass an entry-to-practice exam to become a member of their Regulatory College. Though the application processes vary, all of Canada’s massage therapy Regulatory Colleges use the same entry-to-practice standard. So if you want to go to school in a non-regulated province and plan on working in a regulated province someday (or just want to keep your options open for the future) then make sure that your school of choice has a curriculum that lives up to that standard. 

4.     Learn about eligibility requirements and application deadlines

In terms of official qualifications and prerequisites, application standards vary from school to school. There will be reasonable academic prerequisites. At a minimum, schools will require a high school diploma, GED, or a combination of high school credits and an aptitude test. These are the minimum technical requirements for acceptance into a licenced program in Alberta, but at most schools, students are accepted based on a one-on-one interview. At Vicars, we’re looking for students who have the drive for an intensive two-year program that covers everything from anatomy to ethics to business skills. The most successful students want to spend you’re their careers helping people, and are you curious, energetic, organized, and self-motivated. 

Keep an eye on the start dates for your preferred program. Plan ahead and apply early so that you’ll have the best chance of getting a place in the program and your first choice of schedule. This is more important at some schools than others, depending on a lot of factors, such as program size, class size and maximum student-instructor ratio, and number of start dates per year. 

At MH Vicars School, we often have to put applicants on a waitlist for our most popular schedules. We keep our class sizes  small (a maximum of 22 students per class, and two teachers per class) so that we can make sure our students get a high standard of hands-on instruction and plenty of one-on-one attention. We have two start dates per year: September and January, though students can start our Anatomy and Physiology and Pathology classes online as soon as they are registered.  

Some massage therapy schools do things differently, and there will be advantages and disadvantages that go along with that. For example, a school might have the option of new classes starting every month. This is appealing for people who don’t want to have to wait to start their new careers. But those classes might only run if enough people sign up, causing your education to be delayed and deferred anyway. Or a school might have small class sizes for its practical instruction, but larger classes for everything else. It’s up to you to consider your priorities, research the program, and decide what combination of features is the best fit for you. 

The best massage therapy programs in Alberta have high standards for their students because they have high standards for the profession of massage therapy.  

5.     Find the schedule and learning style that suits you

At the end of the day, choosing a school isn’t about finding the “perfect” massage therapy program. It’s about finding the perfect massage therapy program for you. Even the best schools in Alberta have differences among them and are designed to meet the needs of different students. 

There are some colleges that offer a variety of programs, with massage therapy one of many. Other schools, like us here at Vicars, are dedicated solely to training professional massage therapists. At a larger institution, especially one that offers multiple programs, you’re more likely to get the “traditional” post-secondary student experience. For some people that’s one of the draws. Others are attracted to the personalized experience and close relationships that come with a smaller, massage-specific program. 

Monday-Friday programs are a better choice for students who are right out of high school and are used to a more directed and less flexible learning style. A blended learning program is ideal for mature learners who want more control over their education and schedule, and people who don’t live in a big city but still want a quality education. 

Pay attention to the recruiting style of schools that interest you. Are the admissions staff on commission? Do they use call centres? The impression that you get from the admissions staff is often a reflection of the school itself and what your student experience will be like. They should be as interested in learning about your goals and needs as they are about telling you about the program.  

6.     Register for a tour and try a workshop

Now that you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s time to see if your dream schools live up to your expectations! 

If the school offers an in-person or virtual tour or open house, that’s a great sign. You want to be able to experience the college and meet staff, faculty, and students as a part of your research. (Many schools have turned to virtual tours due to the pandemic, and these can also be a valuable experience.) 

Take advantage of any opportunities you have. Ask questions about the coursework, meet the staff, see the students in action, and even  experience a treatment for yourself at student clinics. 

Some massage schools offer one- or two-day beginners’ workshops so that you can get a short hands-on experience and learn some very basic techniques. They can be a good way for a prospective student to get a feel for their space and teaching style. 

Set yourself up for success 

By choosing the right massage therapy education, you’ll set yourself up for success by making sure that you have the skills, knowledge, and experience that clients want and need. Graduates from the best schools are fully qualified to forge arewarding career as a professional massage therapist.  

If you think Vicars might be the right school for you, contact us today to learn all about life as an MH Vicars student and future massage therapist. 

Create a Balanced, Healthy Lifestyle as an RMT

Work-life balance is high on the list of career must-haves for almost everyone. Looking to break free of the 9-5 and the culture of being constantly connected to the office by text, phone, or email? A career as a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) can help you achieve this dream. 

As a massage therapist, you’ll never be tied to a desk again. Working directly with your clients to help them heal, you’ll have the satisfaction of being a health care professional—without the shift work and high stress. According to job website Monster.com, being a massage therapist is among the top 7 most relaxing jobs. And most MH Vicars School graduates are entrepreneurs, which means they set their own hours and design their own workspaces. 

That doesn’t mean that being a massage therapist is easy, of course! Massage therapists use both their muscles and their minds to help their clients heal. You will need to be fully engaged and present for each treatment. And being your own boss isn’t a walk in the park; you’ll be responsible for managing the business side of your practice. 

But for massage therapists, those challenges pale in comparison to the benefits of this fulfilling and flexible career. You will have the knowledge and skills to change their clients’ lives—and you’ll get to live the life you want, too. 

Can I have a satisfying career and still have time for myself and my family? 

As educators, we know that one of the reasons that our students choose MH Vicars School is because our blended-learning schedules allow them to balance their education with their other responsibilities. And as RMTs, we know that one of the attractions of a career in massage therapy is the ability to achieve a healthy work-life balance. 

What that balance looks like is different for everyone and will change over time as your needs change. That’s why it’s so important to choose a career that lets you be in control of your professional life and that can grow and evolve alongside you. 

Most of our students want their career to be flexible enough to fit around their demanding family life. For some of them, that means being able to work around their kids’ school and activity schedule.  

What Kind of Schedule Does an RMT Work? 

RMTs can work whatever hours and schedules they and their clients prefer. 

Massage therapists see their clients by appointment, so you can set your availability to whatever works best for you and your family. This can make it easier to manage family or other non-work activities, and you won’t need to ask anyone’s permission to take a holiday. 

As an RMT, you can work evenings and weekends if you need to be around for your toddler during the day, or to make sure that your last massage of the day is done in time to drive your teens to hockey practice.  By planning ahead, you can work part-time or casual hours when your schedule demands it. 

It’s not just parents who dream of having control over their own schedule. Vicars students range in age from their early 20s to the late 50s. For some of our younger students, becoming a massage therapist is an opportunity to work and travel. A lot of our older students are excited to become RMTs in order to set their own full-time hours now, and also to have the option to switch to part-time later on. 

Can I make a living as an RMT? 

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries in Canada. Canadians are increasingly relying on massage therapy, and doctors are referring patients to RMTs for treatment more than ever before. Also, many health plans now also cover massage therapy services, making it easier than ever for clients to receive massage to supplement their mainstream medical care.  This widespread popularity means that registered massage therapy is an in-demand career. In fact, many Vicars grads are so busy that they have a steady client base booking months in advance, plus a constantly filled waiting list. 

A well-trained massage therapist can earn a very comfortable income, but exactly how much money you make will depend on your type of practice, where you are, and how much you work. 

Massage therapists can work in a wide variety of settings, including: 

  • Dedicated massage therapy clinics 
  • Home-based massage clinics 
  • Chiropractic clinics 
  • Acupuncture clinics 
  • Physiotherapy clinics 
  • Rehabilitation centres 
  • Spas and hotels 
  • Fitness centres 

Most registered massage therapists charge between $80-$110 for a 60-minute massage. Of course, that’s not all income. If you’re running your own clinic, you will have to cover rent, supplies, laundry, marketing, and other expenses. If you work as a contractor in someone else’s clinic, you will either have a fee-splitting agreement (60% to the therapist is a common arrangement) or pay the clinic a fixed monthly fee. In exchange, some of your business expenses and tasks will be covered by the clinic. 

A sustainable full-time workload for a well-trained massage therapist is between 20 and 25 massages per week. In addition to that hands-on time with your clients, your responsibilities will include charting, doing laundry, booking and confirming clients, marketing, and other administrative tasks. If you work as a contractor or as an employee, the clinic might handle some or all those duties for you (except your treatment paperwork, of course). 

Some RMTs work as employees in clinics or spas and earn an hourly wage. They’ll usually work assigned shifts, and they get paid the same amount no matter how many clients they see. They are also paid for the time that they put into their non-massage duties. Compared to working as a contractor or running your own clinic, the hours and income are more predictable and there’s usually less responsibility. For some people, that’s exactly what they need to achieve the work-life balance that they’re looking for. 

There are disadvantages to working for an hourly wage, however. Therapists working for an hourly wage typically make less overall than other therapists. They don’t get to set their own hours, and also have less control over how many massages they perform in a day. So if your version of work-life balance involves flexibility and setting your own pace, you’re better off working for yourself. Fortunately, the Vicars curriculum involves business training and hands-on experience at our fully functional public clinic. You’ll be prepared to launch your own career as soon as you graduate. 

A healthy and relaxing work environment 

Massage is an inherently relaxing experience, even if you’re the one giving the massage treatment. All around you, calming music is playing, gentle scents are wafting through the air and everyone is speaking softly. The best part is that even if that client comes in flustered and stressed, they will be completely relaxed by the end of the treatment. 

After your client leaves, you’ll clean the treatment room, replace the linens, and get set for your next treatment. Experienced RMTs make sure that they allow enough time between appointments not only to get the space ready for the next client, but to perform essential self-care rituals: having some water and a snack, stretching, and doing breathing exercises or even some light meditation to refocus your energies. 

There are a lot of things to love about a career in massage. And the best of them is that your clients are actually happy to see you. Even if they arrive stressed out or in pain, they’ll be looking forward to your treatment, and completely relaxed by the end of it. 

Being a massage therapist is hard work and has its frustrations and annoyances like every other job. We can’t promise that you’ll never be tired at the end of the day, or never get tired of folding laundry!  

But you’ll also finish every workday knowing that you have made a difference, and that you are valued for your knowledge and your skills. And that’s the key to real work-life balance: having a career that brings you as much joy and satisfaction as the other parts of your life do. 

Find Your Work-Life Balance as a Massage Therapist and Start Living the Life You’ve Imagined 

Massage therapy training at MH Vicars can open doors to the rest of your life, starting with our unique blended learning format. Set your own schedule for your online learning, spend four days a month on campus with us and then choose the days and hours you’d like to practice as a full-fledged RMT.  

For more information about our exciting program, call our friendly admissions team toll-free at 1-866-491-0574 today or attend an online open house! 

 

massage therapy classes at MH Vicars

A Career in Massage Therapy Can Provide Many Ideal Job Options

Have you ever said to yourself “one day, I’ll have more time for myself?” If you’re a shift worker or you’ve been stuck in the 9-5 rat race for too many years, it may be time to consider all the benefits of a career in massage therapy. Whether you dream of owning your own business or want to work flexible hours in a clinic, being a massage therapist can take you there. Go to massage therapy school, and you can build the career and the life that you’ve always wanted.

With Massage Therapy Education at Vicars, Your New Lifestyle Can Start Right Away

The right massage therapy training will not only prepare you for a flexible career – it will allow you to balance your work, life, and education while you’re a student. At Vicars School, you’ll be in control of your own schedule as soon as you register to be a student at either our Edmonton or Calgary campuses. Our full-time program is delivered through an accessible blended learning format. This means you don’t need to give up all your other responsibilities while you train with us.

You will have four full in-class days per month (you can choose the schedule that will work best for you). When you’re on campus, you’ll work closely with your instructors and classmates as you learn hands-on skills in the lab and hone all the skills you’ll need to become a successful RMT. Then you’ll spend an average of 30 hours per week on your independent-study work from the comfort of your own hoome. You’ll still be connected to your classmates and our expert instructors, but you’ll have complete control of your schedule.massage therapy classes at MH Vicars

You can even get a head start on your education, to give yourself extra time during the school year. As soon as you register for classes, you can start work on our core science courses online.

Massage Therapy School Provides a Variety of Career Opportunities

Our therapists choose Vicars because they want a career where they can truly help others, while working in an environment that suits their needs. Many of our graduates work in dedicated massage therapy clinics, either by themselves or with a team of other RMTs. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg: you will find our graduates in a variety of settings across Canada and the world. Here are some massage therapy settings you might not have considered:

Home-based business

Say goodbye to rush hour traffic – your new commute to work could be walking down your hallway! When you consider the advantages of a home-based massage therapy business, it’s no surprise that so many Vicars graduates choose to set up a clinic in their own home.

When you have a clinic in your home, you have complete control over your schedule and your space and reduce your overhead costs. Your clients will appreciate the calm atmosphere, privacy, and convenience. And because you can offer appointments outside of standard office hours, you can attract clients who work shifts or have 9-5 jobs and struggle to find a massage clinic open when they need it.

Of course, this option doesn’t work for everyone, or for every home. In order to have a successful clinic from your home, you need to have a dedicated treatment space and appropriate bathroom and laundry facilities.

A mobile massage clinic

The only thing better than a massage, is a massage that comes to you! If you want to be able to treat a wide variety of clients in diverse settings, being a mobile massage therapist could be the answer. As a mobile RMT, you pack up your massage table or massage chair and treat your clients where they are. The options are endless: you could set up a clinic room at an extended care facility once a week, visit your clients in their homes, or be hired by a business to give chair massages to their employees. And because it’s so flexible, you can offer mobile massage therapy services and still have a regular clinic space for your clients to visit.

Physiotherapy clinics

Physiotherapy and massage therapy are both incredibly effective pain management and recovery practices. The two therapies have a lot in common. Both massage therapists and physiotherapists have an in-depth knowledge of the body and its systems, and use specialized hands-on techniques to treat their clients. But there are also some big differences between physio and massage, and they aren’t interchangeable. The two professions have different training, and use different techniques – which is why they complement each other so well when combined in the same clinic! By partnering up with a physiotherapist in a shared clinic or wellness centre, you will be able to provide your clients with comprehensive care to help them prevent and treat injuries, and maintain peak physical and mental health.

Chiropractic clinics

Chiropractors and RMTs frequently work side-by-side assisting clients with recovery from physical strain and injuries resulting from auto accidents, postural dysfunction, and more. A chiropractor performs the physical adjustments, and the massage therapist works on the soft tissues that have been working overtime to compensate for any misalignment.

Multi-disciplinary wellness clinics

Chiros and physios aren’t the only professions that sync up well with massage therapy. One way that many massage therapists find success is by working out of a multi-disciplinary clinic that offers a wide variety of therapeutic services. Practitioners that partner well with massage therapy include doctors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, midwives and doulas, osteopaths, and more.

Your clients will appreciate the opportunity to have so many of their health need met under one roof. And for you and your colleagues, having shared practices means that you’ll have a constant source of referrals, plenty of professional support, and the ability to share the space and equipment costs.

Long-term care homes and extended care facilities

A lifetime of wear and tear takes a toll on the human body. So it’s no surprise massage therapy is in high demand with older adults. Geriatric massage is an adaptation of relaxation and therapeutic massage techniques to meet the specialized needs of elderly clients. It lowers stress, improves sleep, reduces the symptoms of arthritis and chronic pain, improves circulation, and more. Massage has even been shown to help people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Not all of your elderly clients will be able to visit you at your own clinic. But you can go to them. Many long-term care homes and seniors residences will have an in-house massage therapist, or have a mobile massage therapist visit regularly.

Hospice facilities

Hospice care isn’t always at the top of mind for potential RMTs. However, when you consider the long list of positive effects of a professional-quality massage, it makes perfect sense. In a hospice, the goal is to provide comfort and serenity as the patient transitions into end-of-life stages: providing a gentle soothing massage to complement any pain medications, keep the muscles relaxed and help to reduce physical and mental suffering.

Rehabilitation Centres

Massage therapy has been gaining attention for the role it could potentially play in assisting with detox and addiction programs. Remarkably effective in calming the mind and relieving tension, massage stimulates the skin, which results in the body’s central nervous system sending out dopamine (the happiness hormone). This dopamine release can help with stress and anxiety for a patient who has been admitted to a rehabilitation centre, provide an increase in self-awareness and allow the person who is working on kicking their addiction a peaceful time where they can passively receive positive stimulation.

Massage therapy training at Vicars can open so many doors, no matter where and when you’d like to practice. For more information about, call our friendly admissions team toll-free at 1-866-491-0574 or book a campus tour today!

RMT career in massage therapy

Train for a Career in Massage Therapy and Begin a Successful, Rewarding Career

A career in massage therapy can change your entire life. If you’ve ever felt trapped in a dead-end job, wishing you could work in a real career where you could help others, be paid well, and work flexible hours, becoming an RMT could be the ideal career for you. At MH Vicars, our industry-recognized two-year program can provide you the confidence and knowledge needed to build a reliable, truly satisfying career.

Here are nine reasons why a career in massage therapy just might be the career you’ve always been looking for.

  1. Graduate with the skills needed to start practicing right awayRMT career in massage therapy

With training from MH Vicars, you’ll graduate with the experience and high level of skills you need to start working immediately. You’ll have spent two years working with some of the best massage educators and RMTs in the province and gaining real experience in our massage clinic. With hundreds of hours of hands-on experience in the classroom and at our supervised student clinics, you’ll have the confidence and knowledge to enter the profession and start right away. In many provinces, you can even start working part time as a student while you’re in your second year of the program.

  1. Make a difference in others’ lives

When you know that what you’re doing is making a positive difference in the world, you’ll always be excited to get up for work in the morning.  Being a massage therapist can provide you with a great sense of purpose, since you’ll spend your days helping to make others feel better. By promoting relaxation, reducing muscle tension and pain, and even treating specific medical conditions that affect your client’s quality of life, you can help your clients live their best lives.

“Even after a busy day, I leave work really happy because I know that I’m helping so many people. I also learned so much about myself while I was at MH Vicars. Between when I started school and when I finished, I gained so much more confidence: not only in my work, but in myself.”

Emma Johannesson, 2017 graduate

Whether your clients are looking for relief from physical pain, emotional ailments like anxiety, stress, or low energy levels, you’ll be able to help them using your comprehensive training and knowledge.

  1. Become a licensed health care professional

As an RMT, you’ll experience the real sense of pride that comes with being a recognized health care professional. MH Vicars School is an MTAA Approved Program and our thoughtfully designed curriculum meets the highest Canadian massage therapy education standards. This means that after graduation, you’ll be a trusted practitioner with the skills and knowledge to work anywhere in Canada.

If you live in Alberta, Saskatchewan, or the Territories,  you’ll be able to become a valued member of one of your local professional associations, like the Massage Therapists Association of Alberta or the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada, right away. If you live in a regulated province like BC, you’ll be able to apply to take the exams set by their regulatory College.

You’ll also get to develop a strong network of like-minded colleagues in other medical and wellness professions. Even when you’ve already landed a great job or opened your own business, this network will help you build your practice, develop your skills, and provide well-rounded care for your clients.

  1.  Be your own boss

According to Statistics Canada, 62% of massage therapists are self-employed. (That number is even higher for MH Vicars graduates: 66% of our 2020 graduates work for themselves).

As part of our extensive curriculum, we explore all aspects of opening your own business. If you choose this path, you’ll be ready to dive into the world of entrepreneurship and create total career flexibility. Work for yourself, set your own hours, and enjoy the lifestyle you’ve always wanted. You can work full time, part time or casual hours — whichever you prefer.

You can even work from home or as a mobile massage therapist and go to your clients. The possibilities are endless. With your comprehensive training from MH Vicars, you’ll be able to realize your dream of leaving the 9-5 behind, set your own schedule, and be your own boss.

  1. Massage therapy is a respected and valued profession

We often joke that massage therapists are the only health care professionals that people actually look forward to spending an hour with! Your clients will come to your clinic excited for their appointment, and they’ll leave feeling calm, happy, and in less pain. You’ll get the professional satisfaction of knowing that you’re improving their health and quality of life, and the personal enjoyment that comes from working with happy and enthusiastic clients.

Gone are the days when getting a massage was a treat reserved for a Mother’s Day pampering session or the only enjoyable part of an otherwise painful physiotherapy appointment. Today, clients from all walks of life seek out RMTs who have extensive therapeutic training, for everything from reducing stress and anxiety to treating TMJD and fibromyalgia. The two years of training at MH Vicars covers everything from anatomy to treatment planning to ethics, with hundreds of hours of hands-on training in class and at the supervised practicum clinic.

  1. You can combine your passions to build your dream career

Massage therapy is an extremely flexible career – and we don’t just mean the work hours. With a well-rounded massage therapy education, you can build a career that reflects your interests.

Once you’re an RMT, you will keep learning in order to keep up with the latest research and techniques. You can add to your RMT skills by learning related modalities and treatments, like cupping or advanced manual lymphatic draining techniques.

But your career options aren’t limited to just hands-on treatments. Massage is a wonderful career upgrade for personal trainers, yoga teachers, and anyone else who already works with the body. There are so many ways to combine your skills and passions under one roof!

  1. Massage therapists are always in demand

From runners to ranchers to teachers, more and more people are relying on massage therapists to keep their bodies working at their peak. The profession has shown steady growth in the past two decades, with no signs of slowing down. At the same time, massage therapy benefits have become a standard feature in most health care plans. So while demand for well-trained RMTs has increased, regular massage treatments have become more accessible.

This means that there are many opportunities for massage therapists to work in many different settings, including chiropractic clinics, rehab clinics, fitness centres and even in mobile settings.

“When I applied for jobs after graduation, I got several phone calls from employers just because they liked that I went to MH Vicars. Graduates have a good reputation among clients, and with other therapists. I am proud to be a MH Vicars graduate. Thank you!”

Ryan Kim, 2018 graduate

  1. Work locally or globally

Do you want to work halfway around the world, or do you want to count your commute in steps rather than kilometres? No matter your preference, massage therapy can take you there.

Massage therapists are as essential in small rural communities as they are in big cities. Because wherever there are people who are stressed and sore, there will be a need for massage therapists. With the right massage education, you’re able to set up shop in your own neighbourhood or in another country. RMTs can choose to work in clinics, from their own homes, in resorts, spas, and everywhere in between.

  1. Say goodbye to the desk job

We’ve all heard the experts say that sitting is the new smoking. The typical desk job would have you sitting more than seven hours a day. Multiply that by five days a week, and that’s a lot of inactivity.

Once you’re a massage therapist, the days of sitting hunched at a keyboard for hours on end will be behind you. Giving a massage engages all of the muscle groups in your body. Since massage therapy is a very physical job, we’ll teach you the proper body mechanics and self-care methods for this hands-on career. This will keep your body healthy and strong as you provide care to others.

 

Massage Therapy is a truly rewarding and valued career. At MH Vicars, we’re proud to offer the highest quality education in massage, while offering small class sizes so students receive plenty of one-on-one attention and education. Recognized by industry experts, we meet the national standards for massage therapy education, and are dedicated to the success of our students. Are you considering a career in massage therapy? Our admissions team would love to hear from you. Call 1-866-491-0574, send us an email, or learn more at a virtual open house.

Massage therapist Sheena Taggart is based in Bragg Creek Alberta, outside of Calgary

Please join us in congratulating MH Vicars School graduate Sheena Taggart, winner of the 2020 Peter Martin Award of Excellence from the Massage Therapists Association of Alberta.Massage therapist Sheena Taggart is based in Bragg Creek Alberta, outside of Calgary

The Peter Martin Award is an annual prize that honours recent graduates who have shown exceptional contributions to massage therapy as a student or new therapist. Sheena impressed the award judges this year with her commitment to educating her clients and community about the benefits of massage therapy.

At MH Vicars School, we have always believed that our graduates are the best therapists around. We’re never surprised when they get recognized and celebrated by other massage professionals – but we’re always delighted!

From new graduate to business owner overnight

Sheena graduated from our Calgary campus in June 2020, and immediately launched her own clinic, Connective Wellness. To get things started, she used the business plan that she’d created for her second-year business course at Vicars.

“I took that assignment very seriously, and it really helped me start my business,” says Sheena. “It meant I wasn’t completely lost when I started setting everything up, because I already had my ducks in a row.”

The clinic is based in her home in Bragg Creek, Alberta. Sheena knew that as a new business owner in a small town, she was going to have to get creative in order to get her name out there.

Having lived and worked in Bragg Creek for many years, Sheena has deep roots in the community. So she was able to begin building her client base through traditional word-of-mouth promotion, as well as the 21st-century version – social media.

“I have found that if I want to be busy, or if I have a last-minute cancellation, I just put a post up on the Facebook ‘Buy and Sell’ page for our little area,” she explained. “And any time I post on Facebook, I also have friends and clients who like or share it, so there’s a community feel to it.”

For Sheena, simply getting her name out there didn’t feel like enough. She wanted to make sure that her marketing reflected that she is an RMT who provides effective, therapeutic massage treatments. And she wanted to help the general public understand the health benefits of massage. After all, discovering those benefits is why she became a massage therapist in the first place.

Spreading the word about massage therapy

Before discovering massage therapy, Sheena worked as a Canada Post mail carrier for many years. This meant she was no stranger to muscle and joint pains and overuse injuries.

“Until my first therapeutic massage, I honestly did not know what therapeutic massage was like,” Sheena explains. “I did years and years of physio, and my fair share of chiropractic, I took anti-inflammatories and did stretches. And then I found massage therapy and it encompassed almost everything that I’d been doing, but it worked better.

“So now I’m trying to let people know what massage therapists can do. If you’re suffering, you can get better.”

So how could she spread the word about the health benefits of massage therapy, and connect with new clients at the same time? The answer was waiting for her in her Canada Post mailbag.

“Because I worked for Canada Post, I know that there are these community newsletters and newspapers that go to everyone,” she explains. “I asked my own physiotherapist, and he said ‘well, when we run a regular ad we don’t really get anything from it. But when we put an article with it, we get results.’

“So that got me thinking: I can do some actual education!”

Soon after opening her clinic in summer 2020, Sheena began submitting articles in the High Country News alongside a small ad for her business. The free monthly newspaper is delivered to thousands of households and businesses southwest of Calgary.

The results of her writing are clear. The articles attract new clients to her practice – clients who are coming specifically for her therapeutic expertise.

“I have had clients book in with me because my articles really connected with them,” she says. “And the people that were calling me from the articles tended to be older people that had never had massage therapy before.”

The topics Sheena has covered so far include hyperkyphosis, fascia, and TMJD.

Here’s an example of the kind of short and informative article that Sheena Taggart writes for in the High Country News. This piece was published there in November 2020. It can also be found on Sheena’s website.

Does Your Massage Therapist Treat Antagonist Muscles?

Have you ever had a treatment that fixes your pain but comes back within days? Most people have chronically sore shoulders and mid back. A common cause is due to your pectoral muscles being too tight and pulling you forward. The pectoral muscles can get so tight that it rolls your shoulders forward. As a result the back muscles become stretched and overworked.  This also happens with the neck muscles. The front neck muscles become tight causing a head forward posture and pain in the back of the neck and shoulders.  

To treat these issues properly the antagonist pectoral muscles need to be treated.  Many clients tell me that they have never had a massage therapist treat their pectoral muscles. Often the result of treating these muscles patients immediately comment how open their chest is. They then report later that their back pain has changed dramatically with just one treatment.

My goal as a therapeutic massage therapist is to leave my clients with lasting results. I also wish to empower them to further their health. I do this by providing a plan of stretches and strengthening exercises to re-educate and maintain the muscles. If you feel an initial trial treatment may address your health issues, please reach out to me by contacting me at info@connectivewellness.ca or go to my website www.connectivewellness.ca to book online. Direct billing is available.

About the Award

The Peter Martin Award of Excellence is an annual prize given to a recent graduate who has shown exceptional contributions to massage therapy as a student or new therapist. The winner is determined based on a letter of recommendation from an instructor or fellow therapist, and a personal essay in which they describe their career goals and accomplishments and why they chose to become a massage therapist.

It was launched in 2019 as a way for the MTAA to recognize and support outstanding RMTs as they begin their career. The award is named in memory of Peter Martin, a long-time MTAA member, and is open to therapists who have recently upgraded from student to full association membership. In addition to the professional recognition, the award comes with a $750 cash prize. To learn more about the award, including past winners and full eligibility criteria, visit the MTAA’s website.