How Much Money Do Massage Therapists Make?

How Much Money Do Massage Therapists Make?

Massage therapy is one of the fastest-growing jobs in the United States. Over the years, it has been emerging as a more affordable and accessible form of healthcare for the general public. 

Accordingly, the demand for massage therapy is increasing exponentially. Naturally, this increasing demand is met by an increasing supply. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that employment in this sector is expected to rise by an accelerated 21% by 2029. 

It’s no surprise that a job as a massage therapist is alluring for a lot of people; it only requires a one-year course, and you can expect to work no more than 20 to 25 hours per week.

The best part? Despite these minimal prerequisites, you can still make a decent amount of money. 

Let’s take a closer look at massage therapy incomes across the United States. 

What Is The Average Salary Of A Massage Therapist?

According to the latest data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a massage therapist was $43,620. The median hourly wage was $20.97. 

The top-paid 10% of therapists make $79,150 per year with an hourly wage of $38.06. On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest-paid 10% earn an annual wage of $22,580, with an hourly wage of $10.86. 

Fresh employees who are just starting out can expect to make around $18 per hour. 

It is important to note that these statistics don’t include data from self-employed workers. 

Moreover, the statistical averages are not binding. On the contrary, there are a lot of other factors in play that ultimately determine how much a massage therapist is going to earn. We will take a look at some of these factors shortly. 

If you take to the internet to search for the average salaries of massage therapists, you’ll often come across a mean figure of around $47,000. But, as math savvy readers may know, the mean average is usually a misrepresentation. If instead, you look at the median salaries, it will offer you a more appropriate representation of what you can expect to earn as a massage therapist. 

Factors That Determine The Pay of Massage Therapy

Averages and other statistics are a good way to get a rough idea about how much money you can make as a massage therapist. But that’s all it is: a rough idea. There’s a lot more going on behind these numbers that you need to understand. 

As mentioned previously, there are a lot of factors that determine how much money actually ends up in your pocket at the end of the day. Let’s take a look at some of these factors. 

Type of Employment

When you first graduate from massage school, you have three main options from which to choose: 

  1. Working for a massage chain or parlor
  2. Working for a contractor in the healthcare sector
  3. Working independently or being self-employed

Broadly speaking, this either means that you can choose to work for yourself or work for someone else, and your income will differ greatly depending on which option you go with. 

For the sake of example, let’s say you make $75 per massage. If you’re working as an employee for a massage parlor, the company will deduct a certain percentage from what you earn for income taxes, social security, and other daily expenditures for running the business. 

On the other hand, if you’re working independently, you technically get to keep all your earnings. Moreover, you can even set your own work hours and pay rates.

However, you are still subjected to income taxes, for which you might have to hire an accountant. 

Plus, you will also have additional responsibilities and expenses. Your expenses will include basic supplies, such as massage beds, linens, and oils. You might even decide to technologize your business with sophisticated tools, such as this handheld massage gun by Exogun, and other similar equipment. All of this, and more, will make a noticeable dent in your income. 

Hence, the amount you make as a self-employed massage therapist does not accurately reflect the true financial rewards you can enjoy.  

Niches and Target Market

One of the great things about massage therapy as an occupation is that it is found in so many different environments. Apart from the traditional massage resorts, you can also find work in hospitals and other healthcare environments, sports and rehabilitation clinics, schools, and so on. 

As you can imagine, your pay will differ significantly depending on the niche and target market. 

According to BLS, the top-paying industries for massage therapists are: 

  • Individual and Family Services— $63,220
  • Specialty Hospitals— $62,630
  • Local Government— $58,450
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises— $56,670
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools— $56,200

Tips and Gratuities

Although it is not required, it is customary for massage clients to leave a token of their appreciation in the form of tips. 

Generally speaking, you can expect anything between 15% to 30% in tips. This can greatly affect your total earnings by the end of the year. 

However, keep in mind that some settings discourage and even prohibit tips. If you work for a chiropractor or in a healthcare establishment, you won’t be allowed to receive tips. 

Number of Hours

Massage therapists typically work less than 20 hours per week, which is considerably less than the average weekly working hours of most occupations. 

Now, you might think to yourself: “I can make way more money if I just work more hours.” 

But realistically speaking, working daily eight-hour shifts is just not feasible. Massage therapy is an extremely physically demanding job, and you’ll be ready to tap out after a three-hour shift. 

Depending on your workplace, you could be spending around 8 hours on the job daily. However, this includes hours of non-contact periods where you won’t actually be giving a massage. Interestingly, some workplaces will only pay you for the amount of time you actually spend giving massages. 


As you’re about to see, the average earnings of a massage therapist differ significantly state-by-state. 

With this in mind, the national average of $43,620 can be a little misleading. You’ll find that some states have a much higher income for massage therapists, while others offer a much lower income. 

How Much Money Do Massage Therapists Make in Each State?

Here is the state-by-state breakdown of how much you can expect to make as a massage therapist. These numbers reflect the mean national annual income of massage therapists in 2019. 

  • Alabama— $35,650
  • Alaska— $77,080
  • Arizona— $45,410
  • Arkansas— $41,720
  • California— $43,690
  • Colorado— $45,380
  • Connecticut— $47,520
  • Delaware— Not known
  • Florida— $47,470
  • Georgia— $35,240
  • Hawaii— $59,770
  • Idaho— $51,630
  • Illinois— $47,980
  • Indiana— $42,180
  • Iowa— $38,660
  • Kansas— $35,750
  • Kentucky— $51,080
  • Louisiana— $28,790
  • Maine— $53,540
  • Maryland— $46,030
  • Massachusetts— $57,530
  • Michigan— $45,830
  • Minnesota— $51,080
  • Mississippi— $31,770
  • Missouri— $40,990
  • Montana— $42,470
  • Nebraska— $52,320
  • Nevada— $36,540
  • New Hampshire—$50,150 
  • New Jersey— $47,220
  • New Mexico— $47,450
  • New York— $52,700
  • North Carolina— $43,700
  • North Dakota— $41,280
  • Ohio— $42,300
  • Oklahoma— $42,450
  • Oregon— $62,130
  • Pennsylvania— $45,520
  • Rhode Island— $37,260
  • South Carolina— $37,860
  • South Dakota— $32,620
  • Tennessee— $41,490
  • Texas— $51,790
  • Utah— $45,350
  • Vermont— $47,670
  • Virginia— $40,100
  • Washington— $65,770
  • West Virginia— $39,690
  • Wisconsin— $42,730
  • Wyoming— $44,090

As you can see, some states, such as Louisiana, actually have much lower salaries for massage therapists compared to the national average. 

Similarly, some states offer almost twice the salaries for massage therapists as compared to the national average. 

Therefore, the state in which you practice greatly determines the average salary you can expect to make. 

States Where Massage Therapists Earn The Most Money

Here are the top ten states in which massage therapists earn the highest income: 

  1. Alaska— $77,080
  2. Washington— $65,770
  3. Oregon— $62,130
  4. Hawaii— $59,770
  5. Massachusetts— $57,530
  6. Maine— $53,540
  7. New York— $52,700
  8. Nebraska— $52,320
  9. Texas— $51,790
  10. Idaho— $51,630

Once again, it is important to note that these numbers don’t reveal the whole story. While Alaska currently ranks as the highest-income state for massage therapists, the average wages in Alaska are actually falling. From 2014 to 2019, the average income actually fell by 8.5%

On the other hand, Pacific Northwest states have a more positive outlook, with average salaries projected to increase over the next few years. 

States Where Massage Therapists Earn The Least Money

These are the states in which the salaries for a massage therapist are the lowest: 

  1. Louisiana— $28,790
  2. Mississippi— $31,770
  3. South Dakota —$32,620
  4. Georgia— $35,240
  5. Alabama— $35,650
  6. Kansas— $35,750
  7. Nevada— $36,540
  8. Rhode Island— $37,260
  9. South Carolina— $37,860
  10. Iowa— $38,660


Over the years, massage therapy has become an integral part of the healthcare sector. The US News rates massage therapy as the fourth most highest paying sector compared to other similar jobs. 

Hence, working as a massage therapist can be highly rewarding, especially in terms of income. 

With the right workplace environment and a few years’ worth of experience, you can easily work your way to a hefty salary.