Your 4 Biggest Questions About Massage Therapy School, Answered
Vicars School of Massage therapy was founded in 2001, which means we’ve been talking about massage for over 20 years. On the phone, in person, over Zoom, at Christmas parties, and in line at the farmer’s market…we never get tired of chatting about this incredible career or about what it takes to become a successful registered massage therapist (RMT).
Over the years, we’ve been asked—and have answered—pretty much every conceivable question about massage therapy, and massage therapy education. And are some questions that we hear over and over again.
We’ve collected a few of the most popular questions that our students have at the beginning of their career change journey and answered them here for you.
What does a massage therapist do?
Okay, I admit it: this isn’t actually one of the most frequently-asked questions that future students ask our admissions advisors. I think that’s because by the time someone gets to an open house, or is talking to one of us on the phone, they’re either too afraid to ask or they think they already know the answer. But here’s the thing: we talk about it anyway, and they’re all still fascinated and sometimes even surprised by the answer.
That’s because massage therapy is a more exciting—and challenging—career than most people realize. If you’ve only experienced massage treatments as a client, you may have no idea of the depth of knowledge and technical skill that goes into treating your pain.
As a massage therapist, you will be a frontline health care professional and play an important role in maintaining and improving your clients’ well-being. You will have the training to reduce their stress, decrease their pain, and treat or alleviate the symptoms of a wide range of injuries and physical conditions.
Every treatment that you do will be unique to your client and their needs. You’re not simply performing a pre-set sequence of strokes and techniques—which means no day at work is ever the same. At each appointment, you will begin by talking to your client and doing an assessment. This will allow you to create a treatment plan. The massage itself will be customized for your client. That’s why we teach you so much anatomy, physiology, and pathology along with hands-on skills.
How long does it take to become a massage therapist?
Massage therapy training in Canada takes about two years to complete. Different schools have slightly different schedules, but if you want to become a professional massage therapist you should be prepared to be in school for between 20 and 24 months.
At Vicars, our diploma program is divided into year one and year two material. Each “year” is actually 10 months of full-time learning. Students who start with us in the fall follow the traditional school year (September–June) each year, with a two-month break over the summer. This is particularly popular for parents, because it lines up with the K-12 school year. The spring classes run from March until December, and take their break over the winter holidays—even more appealing for many students than having the summer off!
That said, the time in between school years isn’t only for building sandcastles (or snow forts). While it’s a break from the full-time workload, you will have some work to do during this time to keep your mind and body in practice, and prepare for the year ahead. Many students also use this time to get a jump-start on some of their second-year practicum clinic shifts.
What kind of training do I need to be a registered massage therapist in Canada?
In order to be a professional massage therapist in Canada, you need to get an education that is recognized by the regulatory body or registering organization in the province you want to practice in. Which leads us to a related question with a much more complicated answer:
How do I choose a massage therapy school?
In order to be a successful massage therapist who is able to make a real difference for your clients’ health, you need to choose your massage therapy college very carefully.
That’s especially true in non-regulated jurisdictions like Alberta (and Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Territories), because there are multiple registering organizations and no central regulatory body. Alberta’s massage therapy professional associations each have different entrance standards—some higher than others. Some of the professional associations are even run by individual massage schools, which raises big questions about the objectivity of their membership standards!
That’s why national accreditation exists. The Canadian Massage Therapy Council for Accreditation (CMTCA) is a national, independent organization that evaluates massage therapy colleges to make sure that they’re providing the best possible education and educational experience. They assess schools based on the curriculum and delivery standards set by the Federation of Massage Therapy Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FOMTRAC).
In regulated provinces like BC, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador, all massage schools must be accredited (i.e., they have to meet the FOMTRAC standards). This protects massage clients and massage students.
Unfortunately, Alberta isn’t there yet. Meeting the FOMTRAC standards is optional. As a result, the type and quality of massage education available in Alberta programs is uneven. But things are starting to change—CMTCA recently opened up its accreditation process to Alberta massage colleges.
Vicars has is fully accredited by the CMTCA, proving we’re one of Alberta’s best massage therapy schools.
If this blog post answered your questions about starting a career in massage therapy, you should give us a call. And if this blog post answered some of your questions about becoming an RMT but left you craving even more information, then you should definitely give us a call! Contact our friendly admissions team by calling us toll-free at 1-866-491-0574, or sign up for a virtual open house!