Massage Therapy FAQs

Interested in starting your career in massage therapy? Learn more about the Massage Therapy Program offered at Harper College.

Massage therapy is one of the oldest known healthcare practices. References to massage are found in ancient Chinese medical texts written more than 4,000 years ago.

Massage therapy is the scientific manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for the purpose of normalizing those tissues. Massage therapy consists of a group of manual techniques that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, and/or causing movement to parts of the body. While massage therapy is applied primarily with the hands, sometimes the forearms or elbows are used. These techniques affect the muscular, skeletal, circulatory, lymphatic, nervous, and other systems of the body.

While there are several types of massage, called modalities, they all generally fit into two main categories:

  • Relaxation Massage: also known as Swedish massage; practiced in settings like spas, wellness centers and resorts
  • Rehabilitative Massage: also known as deep tissue, medical, therapeutic or clinical massage; practiced in many settings like clinics, hospitals and chiropractic office

Harper offers a comprehensive program that exceeds state requirements.

Combining a variety of healing modalities with focus in both relaxation and rehabilitative massage, our program provides a diverse education that increases potential for working in different environments.

Excellent, experienced instructors along with the combination of classroom and clinic experience allow the student to prepare for real-world situations.

Classes are small to allow students individual attention. Generally, there are less than 20 students per class.

The program can be completed in less than one year.

The Massage Therapy Program is offered at Harper College's main Palatine campus, located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The program is housed in Harper's Avante Center, Building X. The Massage Clinic is located in Room X105. View maps and directions.

Employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Continued growth in the demand for massage services will lead to new openings for massage therapists. As a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist, you may be self-employed, a salaried employee or work on a commission basis. Opportunities include private practice, spas, rehabilitations centers, hospitals, sports clinics, doctor’s offices and geriatric nursing homes.

Yes. The state of Illinois requires that massage therapists successfully complete a minimum of 600 hours of education including hands-on training from an approved provider and then pass the national exam. Harper provides the training and the national exam is administered by the Massage Board Licensing Exam (MBLEx). 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for massage therapists was $37,180 in 2014. The best-paid 10 percent in the profession made more than $71,950, while the bottom 10 percent made less than $18,460. However, many massage therapists are self-employed or work part-time, so earnings range widely. For more career information, visit:

Yes, students are required to take MTP 100: Introduction to Massage Therapy. In addition, in Illinois you must be at least 18 years of age and of good moral character.

The Harper Massage Therapy Clinic is on campus and simulates a real-world working environment for our students. Students are required to complete 80 hours of client massages at the Clinic. Students will also conduct massages at outreach locations for special populations.

For more information about professional massage therapist training courses offered at Harper College, fill out our Request Information form now or visit the Massage Therapy Program page.