Best Massage Therapy Schools in Chicago | Cost, Requirement & How To Apply

If you have a passion for changing lives, providing alternative and holistic therapies, then massage therapy schools in Chicago are the perfect choice for you.

Massage therapy schools in Chicago offer students the opportunity to turn their passion into a career providing alternative and science-based therapies. Programs are available to current and future health care professionals.

By earning an associate massage therapist or certificate in massage therapy schools in Chicago, graduates will gain a deeper understanding of how to effectively balance a client’s various body systems and how to use massage therapy to improve health and well-being of the client.

Are There Massage Therapy Schools In Chicago?

There are several massage therapy schools in Chicago, most of them at local colleges and technical institutes. Some are beauty schools with multiple programs, while others focus solely on massage and bodywork.

Educational programs consist of classroom classes, laboratory work and practical experience in student clinics or private massage rooms. The certification program typically takes six months to a year to complete. Some schools offer two-year associate degrees.

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How Much Do Massage Therapy Schools Cost In Chicago?

The cost of massage therapy schools in Chicago is $14,150. This includes uniforms, free massage treatments, lotions for lab and clinical training sessions, training, course handouts, professional liability insurance, initial Illinois massage license, career services and placement.

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What Are The Requirements For Massage Therapy Schools In Chicago?

For those looking to further their education to become a licensed massage therapist, massage therapy schools in Illinois offer a wide variety of options.

 Students can study in urban areas such as Chicago or in smaller cities and towns throughout the state. Massage therapy requires both academic and technical knowledge, clinical skills, sensitivity and good manual skills.

Massage therapy students must have a strong desire to help others, as well as the determination and dedication to developing the skills to become a licensed massage therapist. Using methods such as massage therapy allows the body to use its own resources to heal injuries and stress.

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What Are The Best Massage Therapy Schools In Chicago?

Universal Spa Training Academy

This school in Downers Grove, a suburb of Chicago, offers a 650-hour massage therapy program that takes seven months.

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Students study aromatherapy, Ayurveda, Reiki, yoga, meditation, cupping, nutrition, connective tissue therapy, reflexology, as well as the following massage techniques: Swedish, deep tissue, lymphatic, craniosacral, sports, pregnancy, hot stone, and chair.

The curriculum also covers energy work, basic skin care, career planning, client retention, and licensure exam preparation. There is a student polyclinic on the campus.

Tuition includes state license fee and massage table. There are no required classes for admission. Internship is possible.


Estelle Medical Academy

Formerly known as the European School of Massage Therapy, this school is located near Chicago in Skokie.

Students can complete the 610-hour professional massage therapy program in as little as eight months. They study Swedish, chairs, hot stones and deep tissue.

There is also training in physical therapy techniques, body mobilization techniques, jar therapy, acupressure, reflexology and manual lymphatic drainage.

Full-time and part-time class schedules are available. The school boasts “instructors with industry-leading expertise, a curriculum constantly updated to stay abreast of industry trends, lifelong employment assistance and state-of-the-art multimedia technology.”


Cortiva Institute-Chicago

This award-winning massage and skin care school has campuses in several states, including Crystal Lake.

The 815.5-hour, 53-credit Professional Massage Therapy program involves 32 weeks of day classes or 52 weeks of evening classes.  Students must attend school for at least half a day.

In addition to the usual core courses, classes include: Introduction to Acupressure and Eastern Theories, Craniosacral Massage, Hydrotherapy and Spa Preparation, Reflexology, Russian Sports Massage, Shiatsu and Trigger Point Therapy and Techniques.

The curriculum includes five clinical internships. Students automatically become members of Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, the largest national organization.


Morton College

This school in Cicero, a suburb of Chicago, dates back to 1924. It is the second oldest community college in the state.

Students can earn either a massage therapy career certificate or an associate of applied science massage therapy degree. The two-semester certificate program provides 39 credits of coursework required by government officials and accrediting organizations.

The three-semester, 65-credit associate’s degree adds the following classes: Rhetoric I, Nutrition, Massage Studies, Business Computer Systems, Principles of Public Speaking, a Behavioral/Social Sciences Elective, and a Humanities Elective.

Students in both programs gain clinical experience on campus.


Waubonsee Community College

With campuses in Chicago’s western suburbs, WCC is highly rated for affordability. The School Massage Therapy Certificate Program is available at Sugar Grove.

Students can take up to 18 months to complete the 680 hours of study and training. There are full and partial, as well as daytime and evening options.

The curriculum covers various massage techniques, as well as Asian and energy bodywork, stress reduction techniques, hydrotherapy and heat therapy, aromatherapy and spa treatments.

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There are two 30-hour on-site or off-campus clinic appointments. After each experience, students attend a 16-hour workshop.


William Rainey Harper College

This community college in the Chicago suburb of Palatine has a 34-credit massage therapy certificate program. Full-time students complete the curriculum in 11 months. Part-time students can complete their studies within 16 months.

The program teaches relaxation and rehabilitation techniques such as trigger therapy, sports massage, myofascial therapy, transverse friction, neuromuscular therapy, clinical massage and treatment for special populations.

Along with the typical mandatory courses, there are classes on hydrotherapy and complex palpation. A prerequisite for admission is the course “Introduction to Therapeutic Massage”.

The student to teacher ratio in classrooms is 14:1 or greater. Students work with real clients in an on-campus teaching clinic.


Soma Institute – National School of Clinical Massage Therapy

Based in Chicago, Soma bills itself as “the only school in America to offer a diploma in clinical massage therapy.”

The 705-hour program teaches Swedish massage, relaxation treatments, sports massage, deep tissue therapy, hydrotherapy, trigger point, lymphatic drainage and facial techniques. The Soma Student-Teaching Clinic provides the experience of treating real clients.

Classes are held only two days a week, during the day and evening/weekends. The maximum lecture class size is 54, and laboratory courses have a student-to-faculty ratio of 18:1. Free one-on-one tutoring is available four nights a week.


How Much Do Massage Therapists In Chicago Earn?

The average Chicago physician earns an annual salary of more than $44,700 (or about $21.50 an hour), which is higher than the national average of about $41,500 a year (or about $20 an hour).

The top 10 percent of earners earn about $76,400, or $36.75 in the state, slightly less than the national average of about $78,300, or nearly $37.75.

For the bottom 10 percent, wages are about $19,800, or $9.50 in Illinois; compared to more than $21,300 or about $10.25 nationally.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,090 practitioners in the state in 2016. The agency projects that number will increase to 6,130 by 2026.

That would be a 20 percent job growth rate, faster than most occupations but slower than the projected national rate of 26 percent for massage therapists.

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How Do I Become A Massage Therapist In Chicago?

To become a massage therapist in Illinois, students must first graduate from high school or obtain a GED. They must then successfully graduate from an accredited post-secondary school in a state-approved program. A minimum grade of 70 percent in all coursework is required.

The next step is to contact the NCBTMB to apply online for the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). This involves paying a commission of about $200.

The test, which students take on computers, consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. It is available at Pearson VUE testing centers in Chicago, Springfield, Peoria, Oak Brook, Schaumburg, Granite City, and Marion.

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Pearson VUE reports exam results to the state board, which decides whether a prospective massage therapist is eligible for licensure.

Practitioners must renew their licenses every two years. This involves 24 hours of continuing education, which includes two hours of ethics.

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Best Paying Massage Therapy Jobs in Chicago

Licensed massage therapists in Illinois earn an average annual salary of $47,270. Illinois boasts the fifth highest employment rate for massage therapists in the United States.

The Chicago-Joliet-Napierville metropolitan area has the third highest number of employed massage therapists in urban areas in the nation.

Massage therapists in Illinois can choose to work in private practice or in healthcare facilities such as nursing homes.  In these conditions, clients often prefer physical rehabilitation that goes beyond traditional regimens.

Massage therapists also work in vacation destinations such as cruise ships, resorts, and luxury hotels, as well as in spas and businesses dedicated exclusively to massage. Some licensed massage therapists provide on-call services at clients’ homes or corporations.

Massage Therapy Schools In Chicago FAQs

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

The state board approves programs that include at least 600 hours of classroom instruction and clinical experience. Some schools offer programs of 750 hours or more that qualify for National Certification Board in Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) recognition.

Do You Need License To Work As Massage Therapist In Chicago?

If you are considering a career as a massage therapist in the city of Chicago, you need to be licensed. To be licensed, you must complete a massage therapy program approved by the state of Illinois, which consists of a minimum of 500 hours of instruction. After completing your massage education, you will need to take the MBLEx or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam, which is an accepted state exam.

What Is The Requirement For Massage Therapy License In Chicago?

To become a licensed massage therapist in the state of Illinois, you must complete a 600-hour massage school. Candidates must then take the NCBTMB or MBLEx national exams offered by the national certification boards. Licenses are valid for 2 years in Illinois, and massage therapists must complete 24 hours of continuing education during that time to maintain their license.


Massage therapy schools in Chicago will teach students the basics of working with the body, including physiology and anatomy, general massage techniques, ethics, and business practices. Students will practice their massage skills while being supervised in student massage therapy clinics.

Some massage therapy schools in Chicago offer students opportunities to participate in community events such as health fairs, schools, colleges, nursing homes, women’s groups, cancer survivor groups, and media-sponsored events.



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