Best Massage Therapy Schools In California | Cost, Requirement & How To Apply

There are many schools in California that offer massage therapy training programs, although many schools are for-profit.

Most schools offer certified massage therapy programs, although associate degree programs are also available. These programs are most often found in 2-year schools.

Massage therapy programs and schools in California often include hands-on experience, which may be in the form of an internship or work at an associated clinic.

For your convenience, courses may be offered on weekends or in the evenings. Some programs are also designed to help students prepare for state or national certification.

Are There Massage Therapy Schools In California?

There are about 70 massage therapy schools in California and the number continues to grow. Many private institutes provide education and training that prepares students for state certification.

Some public colleges offer associate degree programs that include general education coursework and other extracurricular activities. Students may complete some initial curriculum requirements online.

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How Much Do Massage Therapy Schools Cost In California?

Tuition for a massage therapist certificate varies by course, but will cost at least $782 for California residents and $4,182 for nonresidents.

Massage therapy school costs depends on courses taken and electives, but will be approximately $1,426-$1,748 (non-California residents will pay approximately $7,626-$9,348).

Tuition fees for the Certificate of Achievement are the same as for the Massage Therapist-Advanced Certificate. The tuition fee for an associate degree in massage therapy is approximately $2,760 ($14,760 for non-residents).

The costs are based on unit fees only and do not include books, materials, parking fees, other college fees or living expenses.

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What Are The Requirements For Massage Therapy Schools In California?

In California, your course requirements to become a Certified Massage Therapist or Certified Massage Therapist must focus on anatomy, physiology, contraindications, health and hygiene, business, and ethics.

Although each school may emphasize one over another, all programs will cover these five subjects. As of May 2013, you must complete the first 250 hours of training at an approved California massage school.

The remaining 250 hours required by the California Board of Massage Therapy can be accommodated by your hours completed through distance learning or online programs.

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What Are The Best Massage Therapy Schools In California?

In California, the first step toward starting a career as a massage therapist usually begins with enrolling in a state-approved massage school.

Before becoming licensed, students must complete at least 650 hours of massage therapy training and obtain an associate’s degree or diploma from an approved institution.

If you want to become a massage therapist in California, you must graduate from an accredited massage school. Below are some of the best massage therapy schools in California and related programs near you.

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1. Carrington College-Stockton

This nationwide company offers massage therapy programs at eight locations in California: Sacramento, Mission Viejo, Pleasant Hill, San Jose, San Leandro, Citrus Heights, Stockton and Pomona.

The nine-month certificate program includes classes in anatomy and physiology; Terminology; Functions and structure of skeletal, muscular and internal body systems.

If you attend this massage therapy school, you can expect to learn Swedish massage, sports massage, deep tissue massage, shiatsu, and chair massage.

They attend a career development workshop and do an externship. The Associate of Science degree in health care requires an additional 42 weeks of general education studies


2. Northwestern College-Riverside

Massage therapy programs are available at this school’s campuses in West Covina, Pomona Valley, Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Riverside. The 940-hour training program takes nine months.

Classes at this massage therapy school cover many types of massage, including Swedish, sports, soft tissue, reproductive, Reiki, Shiatsu, and alternative techniques.

There are also courses in Anatomy and Physiology, Reflexology, Craniosacral Therapy, Spa Services and Wellness Strategies, Pain Management and Massage Strategies, Business Skills, Computers, and Ethics and Professionalism.

In addition, students participate in a career orientation seminar and undergo clinical practice.


3. De Anza College

Located in Cupertino, De Anza College offers diploma and certificate programs in massage therapy. Training is focused on deep tissue, sports and international massage techniques.

These programs are based on a medical model that includes coursework in physiology, anatomy, and medical terminology. All programs require an internship, either practical or as a teaching assistant.

Some classes cover sports injuries, tai chi, stress management, and stretching. Graduates are eligible for a national certification exam in therapeutic massage and bodywork.

The degree program requires 1,020 hours, the Certificate of Achievement program requires 516 hours, and the Advanced Certificate of Achievement program requires 876 hours. A minimum of “C” is required in all courses.


4. Fullerton College

Fullerton College in Fullerton offers certified programs in therapeutic and sports massage. The Level I certificate program requires 600 hours of study and the Level II program requires 400 hours of study.

These programs focus on holistic education and training and include courses in human biology, sports massage, kinesiology, sports injuries, advanced massage, and massage pathology.

All courses must be completed with a “C” or higher. Students must show proof of current CPR card and first aid training.


5. MiraCosta College

Located in Oceanside, this college offers massage therapist and massage therapist certification programs. The 250-hour massage therapist program meets California state requirements for massage therapist certification.

The program covers areas such as medical terminology, pathology, physiology and anatomy. It also provides theoretical training and practical experience.

The 500-hour program for massage therapists is based on the program for practicing massage therapists and includes courses in other massage techniques.


6. Institute of Business and Technologies

This school in Santa Clara, with a history of more than half a century, has graduated thousands of students in various fields.

The massage therapy certificate program covers a range of massage techniques and practices. Students also take classes in human anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, nutrition, and the theory and history of massage therapy.

They also receive hundreds of hours of practice at the on-campus massage clinic. The school prepares graduates for employment by providing them with message tables with headrests, pads, carrying bags and sheets.


7. Antelope Valley University

Located in Lancaster, this school offers a 33-hour certificate program that takes 9 or 10 months to complete.

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You must first complete the Message Therapy Prep Course to learn bodywork basics, professionalism, legal issues, and medical terminology.

The next classes are “Introduction to Bodywork” and “Spa Modalities” which include facials and aromatherapy.

The remaining courses are: Anatomy and Physiology, Massage Techniques and Biomechanics, Assessment Procedures and Health Education, and Business Considerations and Professional Development.

The final step is to complete an externship to gain experience in the field.


8. National Holistic Institute

NHI is a private for-profit school located in Emeryville. There are also campuses in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, Santa Ana, and Petaluma.

Training in therapeutic massage takes eight months for full-time students and 10-12 months for part-time students.

Massage techniques such as Swedish, Shiatsu, deep tissue, lymphatic, sports, prenatal, hot stone and Thai massage are taught here.

Other courses include myofascial therapy, traditional Chinese medicine, hand and foot reflexology, acupressure, energy work, rocking and shaking and aromatherapy.

There are also classes in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, business and marketing. Each campus has its own student massage clinic.


9. American Career College-Ontario

This school, which has been in business for over 70 years, has campuses in Los Angeles, Ontario and Costa Mesa.

The 38-week massage therapy program includes 750 classroom hours and 407 hands-on hours. Required courses: Swedish massage, massage for people with special needs and therapeutic communication.

Other classes include Deep Tissue; myofascial release and neuromuscular therapy; spa procedures, aromatherapy and stone massage; and ethics, business and professional development. Students also do externships.


10. Skyline College

Located in Bruno, Skyline awards certificates of achievement to students who complete 32-38 units (600 contact hours) over two semesters.

Mandatory courses: theory and practice of massage; Holistic health science; Massage technique and clinical experience; pathology and pharmacology; Clinical kinesiology and applied biomechanics for manual therapy.

Sports medicine and manual therapy; Theory and practice of Asian bodywork traditions; An Introduction to Consciousness, Intention, and Meditation; and Conscious Eating: A Sustainable Approach to Health and Healing are also taufght.

Students choose from 14 additional classes. They can then earn certifications in holistic, complementary, alternative, or integrative medicine in various healing modalities.


How Much Do Massage Therapists In California Earn?

California massage therapists can earn an average annual salary of $35,060, excluding tips. Most massage therapists are paid a salary and tips.

Since most California massage therapists are by appointment only, their schedules and hours vary widely from week to week.

In addition to providing hour-long massages, massage therapists also spend time writing patient progress notes, scheduling appointments with clients, and other general business tasks.

California massage therapists can either be self-employed, traveling to different locations, or they can work in a medical facility, fitness center, or spa.

The possibilities are as diverse as the Golden State itself. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks first in the country for the highest number of massage therapists.

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How Do I Become A Massage Therapist In California?

To become a massage therapist in California, a student must complete 500 or more hours of education and training at a school recognized by the state board.

The curriculum must include at least 100 hours in each of the following subject areas: Anatomy and Physiology, Health and Hygiene, Contraindications, Business, and Ethics. Students receive credit for up to 75 hours of supervised work in a massage clinic.

In addition to the core curriculum, many schools offer electives that allow students to pursue different areas of interest.

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Many examples include hot stone massage, craniosacral therapy, sports massage, sciatica, massage for the elderly and other special populations. Some massage therapy schools in California require up to 1000 hours.

Students can continue their education to earn certifications in specific specialties or enroll in holistic health programs that teach additional aspects of massage parlor services.

No work experience or on-the-job training is required, other than that obtained in school. After graduation, the next step for a future therapist is to take the National Certification Board for Massage Therapy and Bodywork exam.

The agency requires 750 hours, but allows interns to begin working in the field once they reach the 500-hour level. The rest of the coursework can be completed later.

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Best Paying Massage Therapy Jobs In California

California is home to many oceanfront resorts looking to hire talented massage therapists. You can work in a salon or spa, in a doctor’s office, on a sports team, or work as an independent practitioner.

Four Seasons – Spa Massage Therapist

 Montage International – Lead l Spa Massage Therapist

 Ojai Valley Inn – Spa – Massage Therapist

 Parker Palm Springs – Massage Therapist (Highly compensated)

 Stanly Ranch – Massage Therapist

 YMCA of San Diego County – Massage Therapist – Ecke

 Cambridge Spa Group – Licensed Massage Therapist

Ventana Big Sur, An Alila Resort – Massage Therapist – Full Time

Alila Napa Valley – Spa Alila Massage Therapist (Part Time)

Massage Therapy Schools In California FAQs

How Long Does It Take To Become A Massage Therapist In Massachusetts?

California requires massage therapists to complete a program with a minimum of 500 hours of practical experience. Once you’ve completed your training and obtained your license, you’ll need to renew it every two years and pay $150 with your application.

What Is The Requirement For Message Therapy Continuing Education In California?

California also has requirements for continuing education units. You must pass 30 hours between each renewal period to keep your license in good standing. That’s why it’s so important to talk to massage therapy schools near you to make sure you’re on the right track with your training and licensure.

What Is The Requirement For Message Therapy License In California?

After graduation, you must score a passing score on the MBLEx exam or the NCETMB/NCETM exam and then pay $150 to receive your certificate. To maintain active status as a certified massage therapist, an additional $150 is required every two years.

Are Massage Therapists In Demand In California?

According to the California Department of Employment Development, the number of massage therapists in California is projected to increase by 29 percent between 2016 and 2026. This means that, on average, about 3,900 vacancies will be created each year during this period.

Do You Need A Degree To Work As A Massage Therapist In California?

Prospective massage therapists in California may wish to obtain voluntary certification to demonstrate their skills to potential employers. Before applying for certification, the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) requires massage therapists to complete 500 hours of training.


CAMTC indicates the number of hours of California programs. Some massage therapy schools offer multiple program options. The shortest is likely to be in the 500 to 600 hour range; the longest can include over 1,000 hours of massage therapy training.

There may be a general and/or specialist course. Some entry-level programs are designed for in-depth study of specific massage areas, such as neuromuscular massage. One track may allow a student to meet the requirements for other holistic certificates. A massage therapy program can be conducted as part of a broader holistic medical practice program.



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