Making your own path is tough work in 2019

  • Feb. 10, 2019, 2:35 p.m.
  • |
  • Public

So....where to start.

Things should be settling down for me in the near future. I’ve stretched myself very thin financially and energy-wise the past year plus, but it was necessary in order to get some changes made and set the foundations for things to come.

First, I finish school in a couple of weeks. I can’t remember how much detail I’ve gone into in the past about that (probably not much), but at the beginning of last year, I started at a local school for massage therapy. It’s something I’ve been drawn to for a long time, but never actually took seriously as viable option. I finally decided to go for it, on admittedly a fairly quick decision. And I’m grateful I did…it’s been nothing but a positive experience. It’s required me to really push myself outside my comfort zone in many ways (something I suck at, honestly), and it’ll also help me out financially once I get started. Graduation is February....22 I think. Then, after a couple of weeks I’ll take the board exam. Once I pass (I can take it multiple times, but I’m planning to pass on my first try, of course), I’ll be able to apply for my license. So…I should have my license by the end of March, hopefully sooner.

That’ll open up some new job opportunities, but I’m not going to jump into it full time right away. The main reason is that the average career life expectancy for new LMTs (licensed massage therapists) is about 3-5 years, primarily due to burn out. It’s actually a physically and emotionally demanding job, and so the teachers all recommend starting out small and ramping up over time. That way, you build up your stamina and clientele without pushing yourself too hard too soon. Plus, I have a job already that will provide some pay. The catch will be insurance....not sure how to work that out just yet. Plus, most of the higher paying massage jobs require at least a couple of years experience....or you have to build up a big enough client list to be able to go self-employed (the goal of most LMTs, but I’m definitely not so sure about that). But, even newer jobs pay decently. For example, a place like Massage Envy will start newly hired recent graduates at $15-$20 an hour, depending on the location. On top of that, you get to keep tips, which, again depending on location, can average $5-$10 per massage. So, you’re looking at $20-$25 an hour as a realistic pay rate fresh out of school. It also builds your experience without you having to market yourself to get clients - they do all of that for you. The single most important part of starting out as an LMT is getting experience - most at the school, and the LMTs I’ve talked to, say it takes a year or two of consistent work to really reach a good comfort level and start to work out the path you want to take.

For me, I’m interested in working with a couple of different client populations eventually. One is with mental health patients. A few of the teachers have worked at counseling centers, psychiatric offices, etc, and we talk about how massage can positively impact anxiety, depression, PTSD, abuse and rape survivors, and others, and that’s a route I’m definitely drawn to given the people who’ve impacted my life over the years. The other path (and they are not mutually exclusive), is to work with patients who have chronic illnesses, chronic pain, etc. We are required to take continuing education courses as part of our relicensing every two years, and the first one I’m going to take is offered at the school (by one of the teachers) the first weekend of March on techniques to use on clients with PTSD. It’ll include things on assessment, creating a safe environment, massage techniques, and how to address things like emotional releases and such that can happen during a session. Plus, it’s very possible to do a full massage while fully clothed, and it’ll incorporate a lot of that as well.

So, there’s a lot on the horizon. School’s basically done (classes are not, but the last final was this past week), and then it’s passing the board exam and getting the license. Then job hunting and interviewing....which I hate, but is of course necessary.

I’m also using my tax refund (which I already have) to get myself back on my feet financially. Taking on the monthly payments for school, plus having to buy a car last year after being in a wreck, stretched me very thin....and I’m still not really back to a good baseline. But I’m getting there.

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