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How Much Should a New Massage Therapist Charge? (Starting Out Series for Massage Therapists)

Mar 28, 2017 9:00:00 AM by MTTI
massage therapy school el paso texas las cruces new mexicoSetting your rates can feel intimidating as a new massage practice, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Not long ago, I was having coffee with an old friend who happens to be a veteran massage therapist. We were chatting about my new massage practice and his transition into the next stage of his career: combining massage therapy with acupuncture. “So, how much are you charging for a session?” he asked. I paused for a second, thought about it, and then shrugged and said, “Well, it depends.”  My friend laughed, “Ha ha, I know how that goes! I’ve been doing massage for more than ten years and my answer is still ‘well, it depends.”

If you start your massage therapy career as an employee at a clinic or franchise, there will most likely be a set rate that you will be paid for every massage. But as an independent therapist with your own business, or even seeing some private clients on the side, you will need to make a decision about what to charge. Many factors can influence what you charge for a given massage: Length of the session. Type of massage modality. Where the massage takes place. Your relationship to the client. Going rates in your area. How much the client can afford. Will you charge more for a “Deep Tissue” massage than for a Swedish session? Will you give discounts to long-term clients or offer packages to bring in new business? Do you want to offer a sliding scale for low-income members of your community? How much will you charge for a home visit vs. a massage in your own office?

There are many resources online to help you determine a per-massage cost based on your business expenses and income. You'll want to check out the prices of other therapists in your area, as well. This will help you determine a competitive rate but avoid undercutting the competition too much; it's important to maintain good relationships with colleagues in your field! The best advice I can give is: Charge what you're worth. New therapists commonly charge less than they could because they don't feel confident about the value of their massage. They think a client who might not want to come to a newbie otherwise will be swayed by a discount price. But a good massage school will prepare you to provide a great massage right out of the gate. If you have confidence in your work, your clients will too, and one way to signal that confidence is by charging a rate comparable to any other therapist.

That being said, it's up to you what you charge, and you are not required to choose one pricing structure and keep it forever. As any experienced therapist will tell you: it depends. So, experiment a little and see what sticks!
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