Massage school associations matter. It’s often overlooked, but it’s one of the most important things prospective massage students need to consider. Why? To answer that, let’s break it down into two main categories:
- Good massage associations hold their schools to high standards of practice.
- Insurance companies recognize good massage associations.
Standards of practice
Quality massage school associations audit their member schools regularly and make sure that they meet certain standards. They review curriculums, make sure exams are taking place, investigate teacher’s certifications, and monitor whether schools are teaching the right number of ‘live’ hours.
This last point is essential.
Reliable associations, such as the FQM require students to take a 15-hour introductory course and a 400-hour level-1 massage course to be certified. However, to meet the FQM’s standards, all 415 of these hours must be live. Which means, whether it’s in person or online, a teacher has to be present in real time. When there’s no association keeping tabs on a school, a 400-hour course could mean 200 hours of self-study and 200 hours with a teacher. Not exactly the same level of quality.
Remember, it’s the association that holds its schools to such standards. And these standards are what separate a good school from a poor school. As a prospective student, knowing a school is affiliated with a quality association tells you a lot about the level of education you’ll be paying for.
Recognized by insurance companies
Massage school associations act as the mediator between the client, the massage therapist and the insurance company. Without certification that’s recognized by a credible association, you’ll be practicing without protection. Any massage therapist who does this is taking a huge personal risk.
On another level, a good association can also change your future revenue.
More and more employers are offering to pay for employees’ massages. As a massage therapist, this can be a huge source of business. But employers require receipts to send their insurance companies. If you want to give clients receipts you have to be certified, and you have to be affiliated with a recognized association.
Believe me, nothing is worse than giving a receipt, and then getting called back a couple of weeks later by a client who can’t get refunded from their employer for your massage.
A note on required hours and certification
Many people have heard that you must do 1000 hours of training to be properly certified and recognized by insurance companies. There are two reasons for this misleading information.
- When a school is partnered with a less qualified association, students need more hours to be certified. That’s why new students often hear that they need 1000-hours to become massage therapists. But this isn’t necessarily true. When a school is linked to a reliable association, such as the FQM, its students become certified after 415 hours. Click here for more information.
- There is one insurance company (Canada Life) that requires 1000-hour training to be certified. But, every other insurance company acknowledges 415 hours as sufficient when a school has a well-recognized association. See here for more information about Canada Life’s policy and the FQM.
Of course, we always suggest that our students pursue 1000 hours of training. It just means becoming a better massage therapist. But the advantage of being certified after only 415 hours is that you can start working and making money while taking your advanced courses.
Many students do our Swedish Massage 1, get certified, start working, and then take the Kine1 (Sports Massage) part-time. This is a great way to earn a living while upgrading your massage techniques to the next level.
When you’re choosing a massage school, learning about its association is a fantastic way to learn about a school before you even begin your courses. Remember, whatever a school promises you it’s the association that holds the school to that standard. And good massage school associations don’t work with poor quality schools.
Happy studies and good luck!