6 tips how to choose a massage school

Ready to Begin Your New Career?
This Essential Info Will Help You Get Started

Massage therapy is a thriving, in-demand career, ideal for people from all walks of life who put “helping others” at the top of their career bucket list. It’s also a career very well suited to those who are curious about physiology and how the human body works. If you’ve ever thought about a career in massage therapy, your next step will be choosing the right massage therapy school or program for you. 

To help you on your journey, here are a few tips to help you research your options. 

1.     Make sure it’s a licensed school

Your success as a massage therapist depends, in large part, on the quality of your massage therapy education. In order to provide the best health care to your clients, and to navigate the business side the career, you need to attend a school that has a strong curriculum, qualified instructors, and offers a practicum that is fully supervised and integrated into the curriculum.  

It’s essential that you attend a school that’s properly licensed by the government. The only schools that are licensed by the Province of Alberta to provide Massage Therapy Certification (as part of a two-year program) are listed with Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education. Only students who attend a full-time, licensed program are eligible to apply for provincial and federal student loans and grants. 

But in Alberta, where massage is not a regulated profession, government licensing is the bare minimum to look for in a school. Unfortunately, making sure that a school is licensed isn’t enough to make sure that you’re going to get a good education, or have an enjoyable student experience. That’s because the Alberta government doesn’t monitor the contents or quality of a school’s curriculum, which has led to a lot of variation among massage programs in Alberta. 

There is no single standard for course content, subject matter, academic standards, facilities, or faculty qualifications that all schools need to follow. There are few advertising standards, and little to protect prospective students from high-pressure or misleading sales tactics. 

2.     Find out what the professionals have to say

So where else can you look to find out if a school is going to prepare you for a long, successful career? We recommend looking through the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta’s Approved Programs list. To make it onto the list, schools and programs must comply with Canada’s massage education entry-to-practice standard  and meet demanding criteria for program delivery methods and instructor qualifications. This list is also a useful tool to hold schools accountable for what they teach, ensuring that all students get the best quality education possible. (Full disclosure: we were the first private school added to the list) 

From there, you can start to look at the details of each program to decide whether it’s right for you. 

It’s also a great idea to chat with your own massage therapist. Where did they go to school? Would they recommend it? What do they know about other programs based on their conversations with colleagues, or their experiences as employers? 

3.     Learn your local massage therapy standards

In order to work in a province where massage is not government regulated, you need to become a member of one of the professional associations that operate in that province. In Alberta, those associations include the Massage Therapists Association of Alberta and the National Health Practitioners of Canada.  (It’s a great idea to reach out to an association in your province as you research your education options! But be careful—some associations are owned by or linked to particular schools. So make sure you’re getting an independent opinion). 

If you want to work in BC, Ontario, or another province where massage therapy is a regulated profession, you will have to go through a few more steps to become registered after you graduate.  

All of those provinces require you to pass an entry-to-practice exam to become a member of their Regulatory College. Though the application processes vary, all of Canada’s massage therapy Regulatory Colleges use the same entry-to-practice standard. So if you want to go to school in a non-regulated province and plan on working in a regulated province someday (or just want to keep your options open for the future) then make sure that your school of choice has a curriculum that lives up to that standard. 

4.     Learn about eligibility requirements and application deadlines

In terms of official qualifications and prerequisites, application standards vary from school to school. There will be reasonable academic prerequisites. At a minimum, schools will require a high school diploma, GED, or a combination of high school credits and an aptitude test. These are the minimum technical requirements for acceptance into a licenced program in Alberta, but at most schools, students are accepted based on a one-on-one interview. At Vicars, we’re looking for students who have the drive for an intensive two-year program that covers everything from anatomy to ethics to business skills. The most successful students want to spend you’re their careers helping people, and are you curious, energetic, organized, and self-motivated. 

Keep an eye on the start dates for your preferred program. Plan ahead and apply early so that you’ll have the best chance of getting a place in the program and your first choice of schedule. This is more important at some schools than others, depending on a lot of factors, such as program size, class size and maximum student-instructor ratio, and number of start dates per year. 

At MH Vicars School, we often have to put applicants on a waitlist for our most popular schedules. We keep our class sizes  small (a maximum of 22 students per class, and two teachers per class) so that we can make sure our students get a high standard of hands-on instruction and plenty of one-on-one attention. We have two start dates per year: September and January, though students can start our Anatomy and Physiology and Pathology classes online as soon as they are registered.  

Some massage therapy schools do things differently, and there will be advantages and disadvantages that go along with that. For example, a school might have the option of new classes starting every month. This is appealing for people who don’t want to have to wait to start their new careers. But those classes might only run if enough people sign up, causing your education to be delayed and deferred anyway. Or a school might have small class sizes for its practical instruction, but larger classes for everything else. It’s up to you to consider your priorities, research the program, and decide what combination of features is the best fit for you. 

The best massage therapy programs in Alberta have high standards for their students because they have high standards for the profession of massage therapy.  

5.     Find the schedule and learning style that suits you

At the end of the day, choosing a school isn’t about finding the “perfect” massage therapy program. It’s about finding the perfect massage therapy program for you. Even the best schools in Alberta have differences among them and are designed to meet the needs of different students. 

There are some colleges that offer a variety of programs, with massage therapy one of many. Other schools, like us here at Vicars, are dedicated solely to training professional massage therapists. At a larger institution, especially one that offers multiple programs, you’re more likely to get the “traditional” post-secondary student experience. For some people that’s one of the draws. Others are attracted to the personalized experience and close relationships that come with a smaller, massage-specific program. 

Monday-Friday programs are a better choice for students who are right out of high school and are used to a more directed and less flexible learning style. A blended learning program is ideal for mature learners who want more control over their education and schedule, and people who don’t live in a big city but still want a quality education. 

Pay attention to the recruiting style of schools that interest you. Are the admissions staff on commission? Do they use call centres? The impression that you get from the admissions staff is often a reflection of the school itself and what your student experience will be like. They should be as interested in learning about your goals and needs as they are about telling you about the program.  

6.     Register for a tour and try a workshop

Now that you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s time to see if your dream schools live up to your expectations! 

If the school offers an in-person or virtual tour or open house, that’s a great sign. You want to be able to experience the college and meet staff, faculty, and students as a part of your research. (Many schools have turned to virtual tours due to the pandemic, and these can also be a valuable experience.) 

Take advantage of any opportunities you have. Ask questions about the coursework, meet the staff, see the students in action, and even  experience a treatment for yourself at student clinics. 

Some massage schools offer one- or two-day beginners’ workshops so that you can get a short hands-on experience and learn some very basic techniques. They can be a good way for a prospective student to get a feel for their space and teaching style. 

Set yourself up for success 

By choosing the right massage therapy education, you’ll set yourself up for success by making sure that you have the skills, knowledge, and experience that clients want and need. Graduates from the best schools are fully qualified to forge arewarding career as a professional massage therapist.  

If you think Vicars might be the right school for you, contact us today to learn all about life as an MH Vicars student and future massage therapist. 

Create a Balanced, Healthy Lifestyle as an RMT

Work-life balance is high on the list of career must-haves for almost everyone. Looking to break free of the 9-5 and the culture of being constantly connected to the office by text, phone, or email? A career as a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) can help you achieve this dream. 

As a massage therapist, you’ll never be tied to a desk again. Working directly with your clients to help them heal, you’ll have the satisfaction of being a health care professional—without the shift work and high stress. According to job website Monster.com, being a massage therapist is among the top 7 most relaxing jobs. And most MH Vicars School graduates are entrepreneurs, which means they set their own hours and design their own workspaces. 

That doesn’t mean that being a massage therapist is easy, of course! Massage therapists use both their muscles and their minds to help their clients heal. You will need to be fully engaged and present for each treatment. And being your own boss isn’t a walk in the park; you’ll be responsible for managing the business side of your practice. 

But for massage therapists, those challenges pale in comparison to the benefits of this fulfilling and flexible career. You will have the knowledge and skills to change their clients’ lives—and you’ll get to live the life you want, too. 

Can I have a satisfying career and still have time for myself and my family? 

As educators, we know that one of the reasons that our students choose MH Vicars School is because our blended-learning schedules allow them to balance their education with their other responsibilities. And as RMTs, we know that one of the attractions of a career in massage therapy is the ability to achieve a healthy work-life balance. 

What that balance looks like is different for everyone and will change over time as your needs change. That’s why it’s so important to choose a career that lets you be in control of your professional life and that can grow and evolve alongside you. 

Most of our students want their career to be flexible enough to fit around their demanding family life. For some of them, that means being able to work around their kids’ school and activity schedule.  

What Kind of Schedule Does an RMT Work? 

RMTs can work whatever hours and schedules they and their clients prefer. 

Massage therapists see their clients by appointment, so you can set your availability to whatever works best for you and your family. This can make it easier to manage family or other non-work activities, and you won’t need to ask anyone’s permission to take a holiday. 

As an RMT, you can work evenings and weekends if you need to be around for your toddler during the day, or to make sure that your last massage of the day is done in time to drive your teens to hockey practice.  By planning ahead, you can work part-time or casual hours when your schedule demands it. 

It’s not just parents who dream of having control over their own schedule. Vicars students range in age from their early 20s to the late 50s. For some of our younger students, becoming a massage therapist is an opportunity to work and travel. A lot of our older students are excited to become RMTs in order to set their own full-time hours now, and also to have the option to switch to part-time later on. 

Can I make a living as an RMT? 

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries in Canada. Canadians are increasingly relying on massage therapy, and doctors are referring patients to RMTs for treatment more than ever before. Also, many health plans now also cover massage therapy services, making it easier than ever for clients to receive massage to supplement their mainstream medical care.  This widespread popularity means that registered massage therapy is an in-demand career. In fact, many Vicars grads are so busy that they have a steady client base booking months in advance, plus a constantly filled waiting list. 

A well-trained massage therapist can earn a very comfortable income, but exactly how much money you make will depend on your type of practice, where you are, and how much you work. 

Massage therapists can work in a wide variety of settings, including: 

  • Dedicated massage therapy clinics 
  • Home-based massage clinics 
  • Chiropractic clinics 
  • Acupuncture clinics 
  • Physiotherapy clinics 
  • Rehabilitation centres 
  • Spas and hotels 
  • Fitness centres 

Most registered massage therapists charge between $80-$110 for a 60-minute massage. Of course, that’s not all income. If you’re running your own clinic, you will have to cover rent, supplies, laundry, marketing, and other expenses. If you work as a contractor in someone else’s clinic, you will either have a fee-splitting agreement (60% to the therapist is a common arrangement) or pay the clinic a fixed monthly fee. In exchange, some of your business expenses and tasks will be covered by the clinic. 

A sustainable full-time workload for a well-trained massage therapist is between 20 and 25 massages per week. In addition to that hands-on time with your clients, your responsibilities will include charting, doing laundry, booking and confirming clients, marketing, and other administrative tasks. If you work as a contractor or as an employee, the clinic might handle some or all those duties for you (except your treatment paperwork, of course). 

Some RMTs work as employees in clinics or spas and earn an hourly wage. They’ll usually work assigned shifts, and they get paid the same amount no matter how many clients they see. They are also paid for the time that they put into their non-massage duties. Compared to working as a contractor or running your own clinic, the hours and income are more predictable and there’s usually less responsibility. For some people, that’s exactly what they need to achieve the work-life balance that they’re looking for. 

There are disadvantages to working for an hourly wage, however. Therapists working for an hourly wage typically make less overall than other therapists. They don’t get to set their own hours, and also have less control over how many massages they perform in a day. So if your version of work-life balance involves flexibility and setting your own pace, you’re better off working for yourself. Fortunately, the Vicars curriculum involves business training and hands-on experience at our fully functional public clinic. You’ll be prepared to launch your own career as soon as you graduate. 

A healthy and relaxing work environment 

Massage is an inherently relaxing experience, even if you’re the one giving the massage treatment. All around you, calming music is playing, gentle scents are wafting through the air and everyone is speaking softly. The best part is that even if that client comes in flustered and stressed, they will be completely relaxed by the end of the treatment. 

After your client leaves, you’ll clean the treatment room, replace the linens, and get set for your next treatment. Experienced RMTs make sure that they allow enough time between appointments not only to get the space ready for the next client, but to perform essential self-care rituals: having some water and a snack, stretching, and doing breathing exercises or even some light meditation to refocus your energies. 

There are a lot of things to love about a career in massage. And the best of them is that your clients are actually happy to see you. Even if they arrive stressed out or in pain, they’ll be looking forward to your treatment, and completely relaxed by the end of it. 

Being a massage therapist is hard work and has its frustrations and annoyances like every other job. We can’t promise that you’ll never be tired at the end of the day, or never get tired of folding laundry!  

But you’ll also finish every workday knowing that you have made a difference, and that you are valued for your knowledge and your skills. And that’s the key to real work-life balance: having a career that brings you as much joy and satisfaction as the other parts of your life do. 

Find Your Work-Life Balance as a Massage Therapist and Start Living the Life You’ve Imagined 

Massage therapy training at MH Vicars can open doors to the rest of your life, starting with our unique blended learning format. Set your own schedule for your online learning, spend four days a month on campus with us and then choose the days and hours you’d like to practice as a full-fledged RMT.  

For more information about our exciting program, call our friendly admissions team toll-free at 1-866-491-0574 today or attend an online open house! 

 

massage therapy classes at MH Vicars

A Career in Massage Therapy Can Provide Many Ideal Job Options

Have you ever said to yourself “one day, I’ll have more time for myself?” If you’re a shift worker or you’ve been stuck in the 9-5 rat race for too many years, it may be time to consider all the benefits of a career in massage therapy. Whether you dream of owning your own business or want to work flexible hours in a clinic, being a massage therapist can take you there. Go to massage therapy school, and you can build the career and the life that you’ve always wanted.

With Massage Therapy Education at MH Vicars, Your New Lifestyle Can Start Right Away

The right massage therapy training will not only prepare you for a flexible career – it will allow you to balance your work, life, and education while you’re a student. At MH Vicars School, you’ll be in control of your own schedule as soon as you register to be a student at either our Edmonton or Calgary campuses. Our full-time program is delivered through an accessible blended learning format. This means you don’t need to give up all your other responsibilities while you train with us.

You will have four full in-class days per month (you can choose the schedule that will work best for you). When you’re on campus, you’ll work closely with your instructors and classmates as you learn hands-on skills in the lab and hone all the skills you’ll need to become a successful RMT. Then you’ll spend an average of 30 hours per week on your independent-study work from the comfort of your own hoome. You’ll still be connected to your classmates and our expert instructors, but you’ll have complete control of your schedule.massage therapy classes at MH Vicars

You can even get a head start on your education, to give yourself extra time during the school year. As soon as you register for classes, you can start work on our core science courses online.

Massage Therapy School Provides a Variety of Career Opportunities

Our therapists choose MH Vicars because they want a career where they can truly help others, while working in an environment that suits their needs. Many of our graduates work in dedicated massage therapy clinics, either by themselves or with a team of other RMTs. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg: you will find our graduates in a variety of settings across Canada and the world. Here are some massage therapy settings you might not have considered:

Home-based business

Say goodbye to rush hour traffic – your new commute to work could be walking down your hallway! When you consider the advantages of a home-based massage therapy business, it’s no surprise that so many MH Vicars graduates choose to set up a clinic in their own home.

When you have a clinic in your home, you have complete control over your schedule and your space and reduce your overhead costs. Your clients will appreciate the calm atmosphere, privacy, and convenience. And because you can offer appointments outside of standard office hours, you can attract clients who work shifts or have 9-5 jobs and struggle to find a massage clinic open when they need it.

Of course, this option doesn’t work for everyone, or for every home. In order to have a successful clinic from your home, you need to have a dedicated treatment space and appropriate bathroom and laundry facilities.

A mobile massage clinic

The only thing better than a massage, is a massage that comes to you! If you want to be able to treat a wide variety of clients in diverse settings, being a mobile massage therapist could be the answer. As a mobile RMT, you pack up your massage table or massage chair and treat your clients where they are. The options are endless: you could set up a clinic room at an extended care facility once a week, visit your clients in their homes, or be hired by a business to give chair massages to their employees. And because it’s so flexible, you can offer mobile massage therapy services and still have a regular clinic space for your clients to visit.

Physiotherapy clinics

Physiotherapy and massage therapy are both incredibly effective pain management and recovery practices. The two therapies have a lot in common. Both massage therapists and physiotherapists have an in-depth knowledge of the body and its systems, and use specialized hands-on techniques to treat their clients. But there are also some big differences between physio and massage, and they aren’t interchangeable. The two professions have different training, and use different techniques – which is why they complement each other so well when combined in the same clinic! By partnering up with a physiotherapist in a shared clinic or wellness centre, you will be able to provide your clients with comprehensive care to help them prevent and treat injuries, and maintain peak physical and mental health.

Chiropractic clinics

Chiropractors and RMTs frequently work side-by-side assisting clients with recovery from physical strain and injuries resulting from auto accidents, postural dysfunction, and more. A chiropractor performs the physical adjustments, and the massage therapist works on the soft tissues that have been working overtime to compensate for any misalignment.

Multi-disciplinary wellness clinics

Chiros and physios aren’t the only professions that sync up well with massage therapy. One way that many massage therapists find success is by working out of a multi-disciplinary clinic that offers a wide variety of therapeutic services. Practitioners that partner well with massage therapy include doctors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, midwives and doulas, osteopaths, and more.

Your clients will appreciate the opportunity to have so many of their health need met under one roof. And for you and your colleagues, having shared practices means that you’ll have a constant source of referrals, plenty of professional support, and the ability to share the space and equipment costs.

Long-term care homes and extended care facilities

A lifetime of wear and tear takes a toll on the human body. So it’s no surprise massage therapy is in high demand with older adults. Geriatric massage is an adaptation of relaxation and therapeutic massage techniques to meet the specialized needs of elderly clients. It lowers stress, improves sleep, reduces the symptoms of arthritis and chronic pain, improves circulation, and more. Massage has even been shown to help people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Not all of your elderly clients will be able to visit you at your own clinic. But you can go to them. Many long-term care homes and seniors residences will have an in-house massage therapist, or have a mobile massage therapist visit regularly.

Hospice facilities

Hospice care isn’t always at the top of mind for potential RMTs. However, when you consider the long list of positive effects of a professional-quality massage, it makes perfect sense. In a hospice, the goal is to provide comfort and serenity as the patient transitions into end-of-life stages: providing a gentle soothing massage to complement any pain medications, keep the muscles relaxed and help to reduce physical and mental suffering.

Rehabilitation Centres

Massage therapy has been gaining attention for the role it could potentially play in assisting with detox and addiction programs. Remarkably effective in calming the mind and relieving tension, massage stimulates the skin, which results in the body’s central nervous system sending out dopamine (the happiness hormone). This dopamine release can help with stress and anxiety for a patient who has been admitted to a rehabilitation centre, provide an increase in self-awareness and allow the person who is working on kicking their addiction a peaceful time where they can passively receive positive stimulation.

Massage therapy training at MH Vicars can open so many doors, no matter where and when you’d like to practice. For more information about, call our friendly admissions team toll-free at 1-866-491-0574. or book an interactive virtual tour today!

RMT career in massage therapy

Train for a Career in Massage Therapy and Begin a Successful, Rewarding Career

A career in massage therapy can change your entire life. If you’ve ever felt trapped in a dead-end job, wishing you could work in a real career where you could help others, be paid well, and work flexible hours, becoming an RMT could be the ideal career for you. At MH Vicars, our industry-recognized two-year program can provide you the confidence and knowledge needed to build a reliable, truly satisfying career.

Here are nine reasons why a career in massage therapy just might be the career you’ve always been looking for.

  1. Graduate with the skills needed to start practicing right awayRMT career in massage therapy

With training from MH Vicars, you’ll graduate with the experience and high level of skills you need to start working immediately. You’ll have spent two years working with some of the best massage educators and RMTs in the province and gaining real experience in our massage clinic. With hundreds of hours of hands-on experience in the classroom and at our supervised student clinics, you’ll have the confidence and knowledge to enter the profession and start right away. In many provinces, you can even start working part time as a student while you’re in your second year of the program.

  1. Make a difference in others’ lives

When you know that what you’re doing is making a positive difference in the world, you’ll always be excited to get up for work in the morning.  Being a massage therapist can provide you with a great sense of purpose, since you’ll spend your days helping to make others feel better. By promoting relaxation, reducing muscle tension and pain, and even treating specific medical conditions that affect your client’s quality of life, you can help your clients live their best lives.

“Even after a busy day, I leave work really happy because I know that I’m helping so many people. I also learned so much about myself while I was at MH Vicars. Between when I started school and when I finished, I gained so much more confidence: not only in my work, but in myself.”

Emma Johannesson, 2017 graduate

Whether your clients are looking for relief from physical pain, emotional ailments like anxiety, stress, or low energy levels, you’ll be able to help them using your comprehensive training and knowledge.

  1. Become a licensed health care professional

As an RMT, you’ll experience the real sense of pride that comes with being a recognized health care professional. MH Vicars School is an MTAA Approved Program and our thoughtfully designed curriculum meets the highest Canadian massage therapy education standards. This means that after graduation, you’ll be a trusted practitioner with the skills and knowledge to work anywhere in Canada.

If you live in Alberta, Saskatchewan, or the Territories,  you’ll be able to become a valued member of one of your local professional associations, like the Massage Therapists Association of Alberta or the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada, right away. If you live in a regulated province like BC, you’ll be able to apply to take the exams set by their regulatory College.

You’ll also get to develop a strong network of like-minded colleagues in other medical and wellness professions. Even when you’ve already landed a great job or opened your own business, this network will help you build your practice, develop your skills, and provide well-rounded care for your clients.

  1.  Be your own boss

According to Statistics Canada, 62% of massage therapists are self-employed. (That number is even higher for MH Vicars graduates: 66% of our 2020 graduates work for themselves).

As part of our extensive curriculum, we explore all aspects of opening your own business. If you choose this path, you’ll be ready to dive into the world of entrepreneurship and create total career flexibility. Work for yourself, set your own hours, and enjoy the lifestyle you’ve always wanted. You can work full time, part time or casual hours — whichever you prefer.

You can even work from home or as a mobile massage therapist and go to your clients. The possibilities are endless. With your comprehensive training from MH Vicars, you’ll be able to realize your dream of leaving the 9-5 behind, set your own schedule, and be your own boss.

  1. Massage therapy is a respected and valued profession

We often joke that massage therapists are the only health care professionals that people actually look forward to spending an hour with! Your clients will come to your clinic excited for their appointment, and they’ll leave feeling calm, happy, and in less pain. You’ll get the professional satisfaction of knowing that you’re improving their health and quality of life, and the personal enjoyment that comes from working with happy and enthusiastic clients.

Gone are the days when getting a massage was a treat reserved for a Mother’s Day pampering session or the only enjoyable part of an otherwise painful physiotherapy appointment. Today, clients from all walks of life seek out RMTs who have extensive therapeutic training, for everything from reducing stress and anxiety to treating TMJD and fibromyalgia. The two years of training at MH Vicars covers everything from anatomy to treatment planning to ethics, with hundreds of hours of hands-on training in class and at the supervised practicum clinic.

  1. You can combine your passions to build your dream career

Massage therapy is an extremely flexible career – and we don’t just mean the work hours. With a well-rounded massage therapy education, you can build a career that reflects your interests.

Once you’re an RMT, you will keep learning in order to keep up with the latest research and techniques. You can add to your RMT skills by learning related modalities and treatments, like cupping or advanced manual lymphatic draining techniques.

But your career options aren’t limited to just hands-on treatments. Massage is a wonderful career upgrade for personal trainers, yoga teachers, and anyone else who already works with the body. There are so many ways to combine your skills and passions under one roof!

  1. Massage therapists are always in demand

From runners to ranchers to teachers, more and more people are relying on massage therapists to keep their bodies working at their peak. The profession has shown steady growth in the past two decades, with no signs of slowing down. At the same time, massage therapy benefits have become a standard feature in most health care plans. So while demand for well-trained RMTs has increased, regular massage treatments have become more accessible.

This means that there are many opportunities for massage therapists to work in many different settings, including chiropractic clinics, rehab clinics, fitness centres and even in mobile settings.

“When I applied for jobs after graduation, I got several phone calls from employers just because they liked that I went to MH Vicars. Graduates have a good reputation among clients, and with other therapists. I am proud to be a MH Vicars graduate. Thank you!”

Ryan Kim, 2018 graduate

  1. Work locally or globally

Do you want to work halfway around the world, or do you want to count your commute in steps rather than kilometres? No matter your preference, massage therapy can take you there.

Massage therapists are as essential in small rural communities as they are in big cities. Because wherever there are people who are stressed and sore, there will be a need for massage therapists. With the right massage education, you’re able to set up shop in your own neighbourhood or in another country. RMTs can choose to work in clinics, from their own homes, in resorts, spas, and everywhere in between.

  1. Say goodbye to the desk job

We’ve all heard the experts say that sitting is the new smoking. The typical desk job would have you sitting more than seven hours a day. Multiply that by five days a week, and that’s a lot of inactivity.

Once you’re a massage therapist, the days of sitting hunched at a keyboard for hours on end will be behind you. Giving a massage engages all of the muscle groups in your body. Since massage therapy is a very physical job, we’ll teach you the proper body mechanics and self-care methods for this hands-on career. This will keep your body healthy and strong as you provide care to others.

 

Massage Therapy is a truly rewarding and valued career. At MH Vicars, we’re proud to offer the highest quality education in massage, while offering small class sizes so students receive plenty of one-on-one attention and education. Recognized by industry experts, we meet the national standards for massage therapy education, and are dedicated to the success of our students. Are you considering a career in massage therapy? Our admissions team would love to hear from you. Call 1-866-491-0574, send us an email, or learn more at a virtual open house.

Massage therapist Sheena Taggart is based in Bragg Creek Alberta, outside of Calgary

Please join us in congratulating MH Vicars School graduate Sheena Taggart, winner of the 2020 Peter Martin Award of Excellence from the Massage Therapists Association of Alberta.Massage therapist Sheena Taggart is based in Bragg Creek Alberta, outside of Calgary

The Peter Martin Award is an annual prize that honours recent graduates who have shown exceptional contributions to massage therapy as a student or new therapist. Sheena impressed the award judges this year with her commitment to educating her clients and community about the benefits of massage therapy.

At MH Vicars School, we have always believed that our graduates are the best therapists around. We’re never surprised when they get recognized and celebrated by other massage professionals – but we’re always delighted!

From new graduate to business owner overnight

Sheena graduated from our Calgary campus in June 2020, and immediately launched her own clinic, Connective Wellness. To get things started, she used the business plan that she’d created for her second-year business course at Vicars.

“I took that assignment very seriously, and it really helped me start my business,” says Sheena. “It meant I wasn’t completely lost when I started setting everything up, because I already had my ducks in a row.”

The clinic is based in her home in Bragg Creek, Alberta. Sheena knew that as a new business owner in a small town, she was going to have to get creative in order to get her name out there.

Having lived and worked in Bragg Creek for many years, Sheena has deep roots in the community. So she was able to begin building her client base through traditional word-of-mouth promotion, as well as the 21st-century version – social media.

“I have found that if I want to be busy, or if I have a last-minute cancellation, I just put a post up on the Facebook ‘Buy and Sell’ page for our little area,” she explained. “And any time I post on Facebook, I also have friends and clients who like or share it, so there’s a community feel to it.”

For Sheena, simply getting her name out there didn’t feel like enough. She wanted to make sure that her marketing reflected that she is an RMT who provides effective, therapeutic massage treatments. And she wanted to help the general public understand the health benefits of massage. After all, discovering those benefits is why she became a massage therapist in the first place.

Spreading the word about massage therapy

Before discovering massage therapy, Sheena worked as a Canada Post mail carrier for many years. This meant she was no stranger to muscle and joint pains and overuse injuries.

“Until my first therapeutic massage, I honestly did not know what therapeutic massage was like,” Sheena explains. “I did years and years of physio, and my fair share of chiropractic, I took anti-inflammatories and did stretches. And then I found massage therapy and it encompassed almost everything that I’d been doing, but it worked better.

“So now I’m trying to let people know what massage therapists can do. If you’re suffering, you can get better.”

So how could she spread the word about the health benefits of massage therapy, and connect with new clients at the same time? The answer was waiting for her in her Canada Post mailbag.

“Because I worked for Canada Post, I know that there are these community newsletters and newspapers that go to everyone,” she explains. “I asked my own physiotherapist, and he said ‘well, when we run a regular ad we don’t really get anything from it. But when we put an article with it, we get results.’

“So that got me thinking: I can do some actual education!”

Soon after opening her clinic in summer 2020, Sheena began submitting articles in the High Country News alongside a small ad for her business. The free monthly newspaper is delivered to thousands of households and businesses southwest of Calgary.

The results of her writing are clear. The articles attract new clients to her practice – clients who are coming specifically for her therapeutic expertise.

“I have had clients book in with me because my articles really connected with them,” she says. “And the people that were calling me from the articles tended to be older people that had never had massage therapy before.”

The topics Sheena has covered so far include hyperkyphosis, fascia, and TMJD.

Here’s an example of the kind of short and informative article that Sheena Taggart writes for in the High Country News. This piece was published there in November 2020. It can also be found on Sheena’s website.

Does Your Massage Therapist Treat Antagonist Muscles?

Have you ever had a treatment that fixes your pain but comes back within days? Most people have chronically sore shoulders and mid back. A common cause is due to your pectoral muscles being too tight and pulling you forward. The pectoral muscles can get so tight that it rolls your shoulders forward. As a result the back muscles become stretched and overworked.  This also happens with the neck muscles. The front neck muscles become tight causing a head forward posture and pain in the back of the neck and shoulders.  

To treat these issues properly the antagonist pectoral muscles need to be treated.  Many clients tell me that they have never had a massage therapist treat their pectoral muscles. Often the result of treating these muscles patients immediately comment how open their chest is. They then report later that their back pain has changed dramatically with just one treatment.

My goal as a therapeutic massage therapist is to leave my clients with lasting results. I also wish to empower them to further their health. I do this by providing a plan of stretches and strengthening exercises to re-educate and maintain the muscles. If you feel an initial trial treatment may address your health issues, please reach out to me by contacting me at info@connectivewellness.ca or go to my website www.connectivewellness.ca to book online. Direct billing is available.

About the Award

The Peter Martin Award of Excellence is an annual prize given to a recent graduate who has shown exceptional contributions to massage therapy as a student or new therapist. The winner is determined based on a letter of recommendation from an instructor or fellow therapist, and a personal essay in which they describe their career goals and accomplishments and why they chose to become a massage therapist.

It was launched in 2019 as a way for the MTAA to recognize and support outstanding RMTs as they begin their career. The award is named in memory of Peter Martin, a long-time MTAA member, and is open to therapists who have recently upgraded from student to full association membership. In addition to the professional recognition, the award comes with a $750 cash prize. To learn more about the award, including past winners and full eligibility criteria, visit the MTAA’s website.

At MH Vicars School, we often say that a massage therapy career can be whatever you want it to be. Carly Turner and Gwen Evans are a great example of this. Carly and Gwen were classmates at Vicars, and graduated in 2018. They now work together at Theralleve Therapeutic Massage and Wellness Clinic in Calgary, which Carly owns. Both Carly and Gwen offer a wide range of therapeutic massage treatments, but what really makes their clinic stand out is how clearly the two of them have been able to develop and communicate their professional philosophies. They both have a very clear idea of what kind of massage therapists they want to be. This important because it not only motivates them, but helps them find and retain clients who share the same goals.

Our Edmonton Director Robin Collum recently had the opportunity to talk with Carly and Gwen, and they were having such a good time that they couldn’t bear to cut it short! So we’ve broken the conversation into two parts.

Part 2, the three of us talked about the business of massage, opening your own clinic during a pandemic, and they offered some wise words to current and future Vicars students! Watch the video of our conversation, or read it below.

Robin

Carly, you’re the owner of Theralleve Calgary. Can you tell us a little bit about the clinic?

Carly

We’re relatively new: we opened in February 2020.

Robin

Oh, good timing!

Carly

Yeah, perfect timing! It was like, “Oh, the economy’s kind of bad…let’s just add in a pandemic!”

So we did end up closing for a little bit, but we reopened our doors in July and we’ve been going ever since. And it’s been a really amazing, interesting, big experience for me especially.

It’s something that has always been on my radar as something I wanted to do, and there was an opportunity in 2019 to kind of get things going and open up a clinic.

Gwen and I had gone to school together and created a really strong friendship, and we were just kind of like, “You know, let’s take this and run with it.”

And now here we are.

Robin

Had you planned on opening your own clinic back when you were in school? Did you always have dreams of being an entrepreneur as well as an RMT?

Carly

With our school curriculum, we had the added bonus of doing that business assignment, where it’s essentially plotting out how you would open a business. I remember that mine was very specific to cancer-related massage. But I had definitely thought of it as a “five years later” kind of plan.

So this kind of came a little bit sooner than expected, I would say.

But I’ve always had a very big entrepreneurial spirit. So taking something on like this, knowing that I interact very well with other people, I kind of rallied up that response of “What do we need to do?” and doing the research and the planning behind it…I’m certainly not afraid of that kind of hard work.

It was taking advantage of an opportunity mixed with, “Ok, well, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it!”

That’s why it’s been such an experience, because it wasn’t something for me that was necessarily planned so soon. But, you know, here I am doing it!

Robin

It sounds like it’s been a baptism by fire.

Carly

Kind of, yeah. But it’s been great. And I’ve had such wonderful people surrounding me and supporting me, including Gwen. I can only really be as good as my team and my team is pretty awesome!

Robin

Do you have any wisdom or advice to share with anyone who might be considering a career massage therapy?

Gwen

It is very much a “You get what you give” career. If you don’t put any work into it, you’re not going to get a lot of out of it. And it’s not the easiest one, but it is probably one of the most rewarding. So stick with it, get through it. The curriculum is worth it.

And just be ready to be a bit self-starting. Even if you’re working under an employee contract instead of being an independent contractor, you’re still going to have to try and reach out and prospect for those clients. So just be ready to do that a bit too.

Robin

Anything to add to that, Carly?

Carly

So succinct!

Gwen knows this, because as I said we were first year together, but I cried a lot in first year. I was frustrated. I just was like, “I don’t get this. I’m not sure I’m getting it properly.” Because there’s just so many nuances involved with massage. Nobody’s going to tell you “This is the exact pressure you need” or “That’s the exact symptom that’s going to correlate to that exact cause and effect,” and everything else.

I definitely agree with Gwen that you get what you give. Because there’s going to be a lot of challenge in it, in terms of just making sure that you are putting in the time and that you’re trying to study all of those muscle groups, and you are trying to learn what is out there, and what is being given to you.

And I mean, at MH Vicars, you’ll have amazing, amazing teachers. So that really helped.

I was just actually telling Gwen recently, it’s amazing how much has stuck and how much has deepened in our knowledge base for what we’re working with, each time we massage.

So, I mean, yes, you have to be personable in order to be a massage therapist. That’s kind of a given, but it’s amazing how much you can really learn and then eventually you can just trust the process.

And then as you’re working, you know, you might not remember all the Latin origins and insertions, but you know what you’re working on. And you know how to affect that muscle and what you can do about it if something happens. And that’s the beauty of it! Just acknowledging that you will get there.

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of our conversation, in which Carly and Gwen talked about their approaches to massage therapy.

Maureen de Sosa Kalas, RMT
Maureen de Sosa Kalas, RMT

Maureen de Sosa Kalas, RMT

Maureen de Sosa Kalas is a lot of things: a healer, entrepreneur, an athlete, and an adventurer. And an MH Vicars graduate, of course.
In the decade since she completed the two-year diploma program at MH Vicars School in Calgary, Maureen has built a successful massage therapy career that has allowed her to combine everything she loves to do.
She owns MassageWorks Cochrane & Chiropractic Care, a multi-therapist clinic in Cochrane, Alberta, where she specializes in sports massage and treating clients with injuries and chronic conditions. Maureen took the time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions about being an RMT and running her own business.

Tell us about your massage practice!

I was a teacher by trade and decided to pursue a career in health and wellness and in a more therapeutic, caring aspect of it. I love being physically active and enjoy getting tangible results.
My focus going into massage therapy education was in the sports side of treatment as I enjoy the outdoors, and was interested in sports injuries and rehab overall. With that in mind, the focus of my practice has been in the sports and therapeutic side. After graduating from MH Vicars, I took extra courses with the Canadian Sports Massage Therapists Association in Toronto, and various other sports massage courses.

What’s the best thing about being a massage therapist?
I love the instant, tangible result or improvement when I work on someone that comes in with an injury or chronic issues. Especially when they have been so desperate in getting help and no one has figured out how to treat them, and then I’m able to help them.

What are the biggest challenge of being a massage therapist? 
I find the biggest challenge with being a RMT is having a home-life balance. Sometimes, when you are sought-after, it’s hard to take time off. But it is necessary to decompress and recharge one’s sanity, mental clarity, and wellness. My way of decompressing is through running, hiking, climbing, and cooking. Living close to the mountains affords me that lifestyle and a great client base who followed me throughout these years.

What do you think it takes to be a good massage therapist?
Having a great skill set. Not just knowing your stuff, but being a good listener, compassionate, and down-to-earth.
And having great biomechanics is essential to having a long term career in this industry. I’ve been fortunate that I am very aware of my own body mechanics, and never had any injuries such as repetitive strain injuries. I always advise any RMT to master this skill as this is not a long-term career once injuries starts happening.

What advice can you offer for someone considering a career in massage?

Take the time to know the industry. I’ve hired and interviewed so many RMTs and I find that for the most part people get into the industry because they want to help someone, which is intrinsic for most of us. But knowing what it takes to grow and build your client base and all the practical skills that comes with it, takes skill and experience and the willingness to learn. Money is not all of it but at the same time, we have to compensate ourselves well for what we do. And getting compensated well is a result of having a good skill set, including the business skills. Because as RMTs, we are a walking business entity.

Why did you choose MH Vicars for your massage education?
It was a great school, and the program was suited to what I needed at that time. It had a great reputation as well—I knew that MH Vicars produced quality graduates.

What has been the biggest accomplishment of your massage career so far? What are you most proud of, professionally?
I am most proud of the many people that I have met along the way that are now friends. I have been to their high and lows in their life, from marriages, to births, divorces, and raising kids – and I’ve treated their families – and I am still very much connected to them. I love that over the years I’ve seen them and know their story and history.

What are your professional goals right now?
My professional goal is to grow and expand our practice. I want to venture into other businesses, mentor other RMTs, and continue doing massage.

Move over, Oscars. Take a seat, Golden Globes. This awards season, we’re only interested in the Best of YEG Fitness awards – because three of the nominees for “Best Massage Therapist” are Vicars graduates!

Kory Ring, Andrea Yacyshyn, and Dustin Ring (no relation to Kory) are among the top five finalists for the award, which is determined entirely by public votes.

The awards are presented by YEG Fitness magazine, a local publication that highlights all areas of the local fitness and wellness community.

“We view fitness as healthy living, and it’s all about balance. It’s about taking care of your body: nutrition, different kinds of activity and training, and having physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists working with you to both prevent and treat injury if you need it,” explained TJ Sadler, the magazine’s editor. “The awards are a way for us to showcase those people who are doing great things.”

Discovering that so many of their clients considered them among the city’s massage elite was a great feeling for the three Vicars grads.

“I’m so grateful to all of my clients and everyone who voted for me for this,” said Dustin, who graduated in 2017. “I never thought that I would make a list like this so close to coming out of school.”

“I was so honoured that enough people typed my name – and I have a hard-to-spell last name! It was incredibly validating as I love this work so much,” said Andrea.

Being included on lists does more than just boost a therapist’s confidence. It can have a significant impact on future business. So what can fellow Vicars graduates learn from Andrea, Dustin, and Kory’s success?

A good massage begins before the client is on the table

I asked all three of the nominees to try to identify what it was about their treatments that made clients so excited that they’d go online and vote. I expected to hear about their hands-on expertise and specialized techniques – and I did – but the first thing that each therapist highlighted about themselves was how they try to listen to and relate to their clients off the table.

“The thing my clients have consistently said to me is that they feel like I listen to them, I care, and I don’t rush them,” Andrea said.

“I’ve been told by a lot of clients that they like that I actually take the time to listen and do a proper assessment and address their concerns – just like we were taught to do in school,” Kory agreed. “And they get the results that they’re looking for, a lot of the time.”

And once your clients love your practice, they’ll keep coming back. And they’ll tell their friends.

Word-of-mouth marketing works. Don’t be afraid to ask for it!

“I actually don’t accept tips at my practice at all, and when people do try to tip me I tell them that if they want to pay me a compliment they can just tell their friends and family about me, or leave a Google review,” said Kory. “Ninety-nine per cent of my clients come from referrals, I’d say.”

No one knows how amazing you are – or is as excited to talk about why – like the clients who keep coming back to you. By encouraging your current clients to recommend you to others, you’re getting your name out there in a more authentic and efficient way than any ad could ever deliver. And, you’ll attract the kind of client who is most likely to fit in well at your practice, which means they’ll keep coming back (and refer friends of their own).

It doesn’t hurt to offer a small thank-you in return.

“I offer a $10 referral [gift] when someone sends me a new client,” explained Andrea. “A client I had from school referred another client, who then referred her sister, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and multiple friends. And then those clients referred people to me. It was a huge domino effect that really paid off and landed me with 10 new regular clients rather quickly.”

Don’t just tell clients about your practice – tell everyone!

One of the ways that Dustin was able to become so successful so quickly after graduating was by tapping into the professional connections that he already had as a yoga teacher. These clients and colleagues became his first cheerleaders.

“By being in the yoga community and immersing myself in different aspects of the fitness industry I’ve developed an ongoing clientele that I never thought that I would have this early in my career,” he said. “I also did a lot of volunteer events. If you’re good, people are going to tell other people.”

Some of your most important connections as a therapist aren’t with clients, but with other health care professionals. Being a source of trustworthy referrals for your clients adds value to your services at the same time as it helps clients get the care they need.

Kory’s clinic is located within Evolve Strength, a downtown gym. This mixed clinical environment has helped him make connections with other professionals.

“There’s a good referral network within the gym,” he explained. “The athletic world, I’ve come to realize, is a pretty tight-knit community in this city.”

Andrea’s practice is in her home, but that hasn’t stopped her from developing an extensive referral list of her own.

“I have a chiropractor, 3 massage therapists, an acupuncturist, a physiotherapist, a Pilates studio, a [naturopathic doctor], a medical clinic, and a pelvic floor specialist that I refer to,” said Andrea. “I have their cards in my treatment room and some of their profiles on my website. By working with them and sending them my clients, they up sending me theirs and we create a collaborative health network for our clients.”

The winners of this year’s Best of YEG Fitness awards will be announced at a ceremony on February 6, 2019.

“Looking back now, I’m definitely glad I went the Newfoundland route. It’s been a long process, but I’m finally there!”

That’s Jenna Kluthe, who graduated from MH Vicars School’s Edmonton campus in 2017. She was one of nearly a dozen Vicars grads who travelled to Newfoundland to write that province’s entry-to-practice exam with the final goal of becoming RMTs in BC. Jenna now practices in Nanaimo.

Tyler Shortridge, Karen Goforth, Jenna Kluthe, and their classmates celebrate together after writing the CMTNL exams. Photo courtesy Karen Goforth.

Jenna and her classmates chose Newfoundland because the process to apply for the exam was simpler, faster, and less expensive than going directly to BC. The College of Massage Therapists of Newfoundland and Labrador officially recognizes the Vicars program, while the BC College requires applicants to pay for a “prior learning assessment” before they can take their test. (Read more about why Vicars grads are choosing Newfoundland and New Brunswick here).

The journey to become RMTs in BC began in the spring of 2017.

“I was going to go the BC route, because I didn’t know anything about Newfoundland, but about a month before we graduated someone mentioned it and we were all curious,” said Tyler Shortridge, who lives in Cranbrook and attended the Calgary campus. “[CMTNL] were really good. They answered emails fast, they answered phone calls. It was easy to get the answers I needed, and the paperwork was simple. I think I waited two weeks to hear whether we were accepted to write the exam. They had no issues with our program.”

The Newfoundland entry-to-practice exam has two parts. The multiple-choice exam covers massage theory, ethics, and law, including regulations specific to Newfoundland. The practical exam, which consists of seven separate stations, evaluates the therapist’s academic knowledge, hands-on techniques, and problem-solving skills.

“It was a little bit intimidating,” said Jenna. “You walk into the room and there were two examiners, just sitting off to the side, and there’s the body. The examiners don’t say anything, they don’t acknowledge you, they don’t smile, they don’t do anything. You just walk in and do your thing.”

The College publishes a detailed outline of the exam structure and contents to help therapists prepare, and the Vicars grad felt that the exams were well-organized and fair.

“It was fairly straightforward. You just have to make sure that you’re confident in your answers,” said Karen Goforth, who lives and works in Creston, BC.

Nonetheless, they all felt very prepared.

“The hardest part was waiting for the results,” said Tyler. “I took the exam in August, and by the end of October I was registered in Newfoundland. The end of January is when I was able to work in BC as an RMT.”

All the time and effort was worth it.

“Being a massage therapist is awesome, I love it. I have the freedom to do whatever I want with my schedule, and I like helping people,” said Tyler. “You see a lot of different people, and it’s really nice to connect with them.”

If you’re a Vicars student or grad interested in more information about moving to a regulated province, please contact the school and we’d be happy to help.