Sports Massage Therapist

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What You Need to Know

1. Sports massage therapists use massage to treat sports men and women, both in terms of treating existing injuries and assisting with rehabilitation.

2. The work is very much ‘hands-on’, meaning you will be working closely with clients, building up a good understanding of their individual needs and ensuring they get the treatment they need.

3. Sports massage therapy is not a statutorily regulated profession. However, most therapists hold a relevant qualification.

4. The General Council for Massage Therapy (GCMT) lists relevant qualifications, ranging from weekend courses through to Masters Degrees.

5. As well as paper qualifications and training, you should also have a good way with people and, if you want to work freelance, a good head for business.

6. Generally speaking, as a self-employed sports masseuse, you should be earning between £20 and £60 an hour, with full-time positions paying upwards of £20,000 a year.

7. As a freelancer, much of your work will come from word-of-mouth recommendations, though you may still be required to advertise your services.

What Do Sports Massage Therapists Do?

Sports massage therapists use massage to treat sports men and women, both in terms of treating existing injuries and assisting with rehabilitation as well as minimising the risk of future problems.

The work is very much ‘hands-on’, meaning you will be working closely with clients, building up a good understanding of their individual needs and ensuring they get the treatment their bodies need.

While as a specialist sports massage therapist you may be working for a sports club or gym, you may just as likely end up working on a freelance basis. And, while many therapists work standard office hours, your services may be needed at weekends and in the evenings, often at the last-minute.

As a sports masseuse, your working day may be varied, but your main responsibilities are likely to include:

  • Carrying out a full assessment of a sportsman or woman’s particular needs, including looking at any history of injuries or past treatment.
  • Examining and assessing joints and muscles and treating them appropriately.
  • Liaising with clubs and coaches to make sure an individual is getting the best treatment.
  • Advising the sportsman or woman on how to minimise the chances of an injury flaring up again.
  • Speaking with other medical and health professionals to ensure that no potential problems are overlooked.

Skills and Qualifications

Sports massage therapy is not a statutorily regulated profession. That is, in theory at least, anyone who has taken a course – even if it’s just a weekend course – in sports massage can market themselves as a therapist.

That said, the reality is that most therapists hold at least one serious qualification, so you should look into getting a certificate or even a degree if you want to make this your career.

The General Council for Massage Therapy (GCMT) (http://www.gcmt.org.uk/) should be your first port of call for finding the right course for you. Its websites lists everything from short weekend course right through to Master’s degrees.

Shorter courses include those accredited by the Vocational Training Charitable Trust (VTCT), the International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC) and CIBTAC, with course from the latter two having the advantage of being recognised outside of the UK. While there are no fixed academic requirements for getting onto a short course, course providers will always look favourably on good GCSEs, especially if they are in biology or another science.

At the other end of the scale, Middlesex University offers a 12 month, full-time MSc in Sports Massage Therapy and Rehabilitation, though you may need to hold a degree in sports, exercise or therapy to get a place on the course. This degree course is aimed at giving you the skills needed to work with top athletes and sportsmen, with classroom learning complemented by practical experience.

Alongside formal qualifications, you will also need to possess a wide range of skills and personal attributes if you want to have a successful career as a sports massage therapist. For example, you will probably need:

  • Excellent inter-personal skills. In this line of work, you will need to be comfortable working closely with your clients and you may also need to listen to their worries as well as treating their injuries.
  • A good level of physical stamina; being a masseuse can be tough work, particularly if you are seeing several clients a day.
  • A good head for business, especially if you choose to go freelance.
  • Excellent organisational and timekeeping skills and the ability to juggle a varied workload.

Pay and Benefits

As a sports massage therapist, your pay will depend on a number of factors, including your employment status, the number of clients you have on your books and also how much professional experience you are able to offer.

Generally speaking, as a self-employed sports masseuse, you should be earning between £20 and £60 an hour, though out of this you will have to pay your taxes and cover all your overheads. If, however, you manage to get some high-profile clients on your books, you may be able to charge a lot more.

Alternatively, as an employee of a sports club or health spa, you can expect to earn a salary of anything between £20,000 and £40,000.

Alongside the financial rewards, you will also be able to enjoy a high level of job satisfaction and the chance to work with a range of people each day.

Finding Work

As a freelancer, much of your work will come from word-of-mouth recommendations. However, you may still want to advertise your services. Try placing notices at local gyms or sports clubs as well placing adverts online, such as on the Massage World website.

Other good places for finding permanent work include the NHS Careers website, which occasionally advertises for masseuses specialising in treating sports injuries, as well as the websites of individual sports clubs and gym groups.

Further Reading

You may want to consider Becoming an Osteopath if you are unsure of being a full time Sports Massage Therapist.

If you need to contact your local Job Centre we have its phone number, a map of it and address all online for you.


 
 
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