There is a surge of consumer interest in various aspects of health and wellness. There is now a hotbed of health and wellness professionals, from fitness instructors, medical professionals as well as licensed massage therapists.
When I tell people I'm a massage therapist who practices in Texas, one of the most frequent comments I hear is, "Wow, Austin, Texas, is really saturated with massage therapists, isn't it?" The question is usually accompanied by a sympathetic, wide-eyed look.
Quantitative: 3 sets of stats for peace of mind
We'll use Texas as an example, but with a bit of research, you can get online, find the numbers for your state-even city-and assess whether your area's market is truly saturated. It will make you feel better. Even with a margin of error, numbers don't lie.
1. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there are more than 26,600 licensed massage therapists in the state of Texas and about 2,500 in the Austin area. These numbers only look scary until you do the math.
The 26,600 who currently hold a massage license in Texas drills down to barely 1 percent of Texas' entire population-and 2,500 makes up for only 1.5 percent of Austin's headcount.
Note: I said holds a license, not practices massage, so we can bet the number is likely smaller. In fact, we can do better than bet.
2. According to the Department of Labor, only one in four licensed massage therapists truly pursues a massage career full time. Taking, for example, a quarter of the 2,500 licensed massage therapists in the Austin area, means it is likely only 625 licensed massage therapists really want a massage job.
But remember, according to the same study, 60 percent of all massage therapists are self-employed as licensed massage therapists, so it is possible only 40 percent of that 625 is competing against you for a massage job.
That means thousands of other area therapists are probably not going to be elbowing you out of the way in the employment line.
3. Demand is great. According to the 2011 American Massage Therapy Association Consumer Survey, about 18 percent of adult Americans received at least one massage between July 2010 and July 2011, and about 31 percent of adults in the U.S. received a massage in the previous five years. In addition, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, a growth rate of 20 percent for massage therapists is predicted from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than the 14 percent average growth rate predicted for all occupations.
Massage clinics are open seven days a week, and many of them are open more than 12 hours per day. Resorts, day spas, chiropractors, med spas and gyms all hire massage therapists, too. That's a lot of opportunity for employment.
Qualitative: In the end, only you really know
Numbers are fun and hard to argue with, but there are, of course, other considerations to take into account when determining the likelihood of your employment.
One of the things I considered first in my personal assessment was saturation as a relative term-relative to how many people want massage in my city. Austin is a healthy city. People are focused on fitness, so there is never a shortage of sore or injured bodies, and we also have a thriving resort community. I feel odds of finding work here as a licensed massage therapist are good.
Finish out your assessment. Consider the nature of your city. How many gyms do you have? Does your city host a lot of fitness events like races and marathons? Or perhaps you are near a resort or big attraction. Is it a big or small city? Would you service multiple areas or just a suburb?
Whether your next step is going to massage school or brushing the dust off your license, job change can be scary. Do the numbers and round it out with an assessment of your surroundings.