Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2012

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best practices BUSINESS SIDE | Q & ART | TABLE LESSONS | SAVVY SELF-CARE The Value of Continuing Education Get More Bang for Your Buck By Laura Allen Continuing education (CE) is one of those topics that divides our profession. Some therapists view it as a financial burden and an infringement on their time. Others can't wait to take the newest class. I'm part of the latter group; I always wind up with more hours than I need. Most states require 12–24 CE hours for each license renewal; a few don't require any hours at all. Some states allow home study and distance learning, even for hands- on credit, while others don't. It can be a confusing state of affairs to the average massage therapist. One thing is certain: CE is an expense, albeit a tax- deductible one. In most states, there are plenty of CE providers and opportunities to take classes. For those therapists who live and work in more remote areas of the country, it may be more of a challenge to find a class that interests you. Interests is the key word there. As a CE provider myself, I frequently get calls from therapists along these lines: "Do you have any classes that are five hours? I only need five hours." It's distressing to me that they don't even care what the subject is, or whether they're interested in it or not. They are just looking for something with the exact number of hours they need to complete their requirements, or the cheapest thing, or the closest and most convenient thing. I've had people who practice sports massage come to my spa class and say, "I'm not going to use any of these techniques. I just needed the hours." That's not getting any bang for the buck (or making me, the teacher, feel warm and fuzzy). While I'm all for saving time and money, I'd be bored stiff if the only reason I took a class was to get five hours—and likely, so would you. Seek out classes that you actually have an interest in, and classes that can give you a return on investment. Your return on investment may be in money, time saved, or career longevity. Happily, some of those sports massage therapists attending the spa class usually decide that adding a few spa treatments to their menu of services can break up the monotony of the day and save their hands to boot. Doing deep-tissue massage for hours, day after day, comes with wear and tear on the therapist's body. Diversifying your offerings can be a good thing for you, physically. Unless you have all the clientele you'll ever want and need, marketing classes are always good for getting a return on investment, assuming you follow the advice you receive. I attend them myself, even though I've authored a book on the subject. I like to hear ideas from other therapists who are entrepreneurs, and my personal attitude is that the day I think I know it all is the day I need to quit. Many times, massage schools only teach a few hours of business to their entry-level students—not nearly enough to prepare them for the real word. This fact alone is probably why many therapists exit the field after only a couple of years. Attending business classes can be the difference in making it or breaking it, especially if you're self-employed. One of the most valuable classes I ever attended was specifically about taxes. You, too, can become a tax- deduction ninja by attending the right class. If you're thinking of becoming self-employed, there's no substitute for getting as much education as possible before taking the plunge. CE on bookkeeping, creating databases, market research, taxes, 28 massage & bodywork november/december 2012

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