Massage & Bodywork

January/February 2010

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HOW TO GET YOUR DREAM JOB Massage therapists have more choices today than ever before when seeking employment. Massage may be performed anywhere: on the beach, in a hospice, and anyplace in between. There are many options to consider; one is bound to be just right for you. If you're in the job market, carefully consider your own wants and needs before filling out employment applications. Instead of taking the first thing that comes along and finding out it isn't ideal for you, start by thinking through your priorities. For example, most people need a certain income to pay their bills and maintain (or improve) their lifestyle. Some people may have time constraints, such as needing to be home with children during certain hours, or other commitments to honor. Another important factor is the type of work you want to do. Practitioners who want to focus on medical massage probably won't be satisfied in a day spa, but that might work out great for someone who loves to do stone massage. Some might enjoy being part of a large staff in a resort spa, while others are more comfortable in a smaller, cozier environment with just a few coworkers. Asking yourself a few simple questions can help you decide what type of job you want. Write down what you want and be specific: "I want a job in a day spa, making at least $600 per week, with insurance and paid vacations, a five- day work week, and the opportunity to advance into management." Having concrete goals is the first step. Of course, it's a rare occurrence when we get everything we want, so you must also decide which points are negotiable and which are not. You might be willing to compromise and work on Saturdays, for instance, but if it's written in stone that you won't work on Sundays, you're obligated to let potential employers know that up front. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR ABILITIES If your talents lean toward neuromuscular therapy and other techniques for relieving pain, you'll be happiest in a medical setting. Some possibilities for you include working in a chiropractic office or working for a medical doctor, a hospital, or in a group practice with other therapists or practitioners such as acupuncturists or naturopaths. Sports massage enthusiasts have opportunities to work with athletic teams at their venues; some are lucky enough to travel with the team, while others may work at the gym, a health club, outdoors at the track, or in a stadium. A practitioner who enjoys pregnancy massage may have success in applying to work with an obstetrician or at a midwifery office. Prefer a constant change of scenery? You might want to work for a mobile massage company that provides outcalls or corporate chair massage. Many therapists prefer being employees and working as part of a staff. They're well suited for working in a spa, a salon, or on a cruise ship. There are many different types of spas nowadays: day spas, destination spas, medical spas, resort spas, and even dental spas. There are lots of opportunities to enhance or learn new spa techniques, but having some spa skills before you apply is a definite plus. Working on a cruise ship requires stamina and the ability to be traveling for months at a time; stamina is a must because therapists are expected to perform 8–12 treatments per day, sometimes working 12-hour shifts as many as six days per week, and the average cruise contract is for eight months. Other realities of cruise life include sharing close quarters with others. Some therapists report feeling culturally isolated on a cruise ship, since Americans tend to be the minority on the ship's staff. But for others, that would be an incentive. One cruise veteran I interviewed said she was the only American out of a spa staff of 80 on her ship. Massage therapists who work for cruise lines, salons, and spas are often expected to do more than massage; many are also expected to sell retail products, for which they are paid a commission. If you're good at making a sales pitch, you may do well at enhancing your income. If you don't feel comfortable counseling clients to buy products, you'll be better off seeking employment elsewhere. connect with your colleagues on 21

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