Are you starting your search for a Florida massage school?
Choosing a school is an important career and life decision. It is much more involved than just finding the nearest or cheapest option. Your priority should be to find a school that will help you learn, grow, and obtain a Florida massage license.
But first, you should know that this decision not only requires planning, but personal introspection. If you are thinking about a career in massage therapy, I highly recommend you read this first –Should I become a massage therapist?.
If you have already done that and are ready to find the best school for you, let’s get to it.
Step 1: Make a List of Florida Massage Schools
There are several massage schools to choose from in Miami, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Tampa, Naples, and Orlando areas. The list should include schools in your area or within a radius from where you live, can commute, or willing to relocate.
Considering multiple professional licenses?
There are professions closely related to massage that are not under the massage board’s jurisdiction in Florida. Some therapists like having a variety of services to offer clients in addition to massage therapy.
Some schools may allow you to train for multiple professional licenses. The most common combination to pair your massage license with is in the cosmetology field. This includes the following Florida licenses and registrations:
- Cosmetologist (Hairstylist)
- Nail Specialist (Nail Technician)
- Facial Specialist (Esthetician)
- Full Specialist (Nail and Facial Specialist)
There are a few other licenses you may want to consider in addition to your massage license, like an electrologist (laser hair removal) or tattoo artist (microblading/permanent makeup). Plus, there are a few common certifications (not state-required) options, like yoga teacher and personal trainer certifications, that many massage therapists tend to gravitate towards.
Step 2: Investigate the Schools
Look at the school’s website and Facebook page. These pages should contain a lot of answers to your basic questions. I will list some you should ask below. Facebook and Instagram photos may provide a little insight into what current students are currently learning.
You can find the answers to a lot of questions online, but not all of them. Websites can only tell and show so much. You need to talk to some people that are working in the field. You should also visit the school.
Check Accreditation and Reputation
Is the school accredited or approved in Florida by the Board of Massage? The Florida Board of Massage approves a school’s curriculum to make sure they are properly educating their students.
The Board website does have a list of Florida board-approved massage schools. This list was last updated in 2016. I know programs have been added since then, so I wonder if they are not maintaining the list.
Step 3: Ask the Massage School Experts
Most licensed massage therapists are more than willing to offer their experience and suggestions. Ask them if they would recommend the school where they went. If not, ask which Florida massage school would they recommend?
Also, seek out massage therapists that are doing as close to what you want to do as possible. If working with active seniors or is your passion, talk to massage therapists that focus on those populations. Most would be happy to share their experiences.
Step 4: Visit the School
When you are ready for a visit, call or use the school’s website. Most have a contact form for prospective students to schedule a visit or provide information about their next open house. Visit and tour as many schools as possible before enrolling.
Ask All of the Questions
Don’t feel silly about asking a lot of questions. You deserve to have someone who will take the time to answer them. If your questions are not answered, consider spending your time and tuition money elsewhere.
Not sure what to ask? Here are some suggestions:
How many years has the school been open?
This may say something about their reputation. I have heard some horror stories that have left students in tough spots. And by tough spot, I mean showing up one day for class and there is a note on the door telling you the school is closed and to finish your training elsewhere.
Even last year, Cortiva closed down several massage schools nationwide (but none in Florida). Some indicated that current students would be finishing their education at other nearby schools. The Florida Massage Board keeps a file of closed massage programs.
Are graduates available to talk to about the program?
You may find testimonials on a few school websites, but talking to a former student can provide insight into the day to day operations at the school. Talking to former students after training call provide additional insight into how they feel about how their training prepared them now that they are in the job field.
What is the school’s graduation rate?
Graduation rates often say a lot about the school, instructors, and overall reputation of the program. I have seen some rates in the 20-30% range in a few cosmetology programs. If students are bailing on a program at a high rate, this indicates to me that something is not right at the school.
How much time will you be investing?
Florida requires completion of a 500-hour massage program. However, you may see a few school programs which go beyond that 500-hour minimum and are upwards of 1000 hours.
- How many hours is the program?
- Do thy offer part-time or full-time programs?
- Is there an evening program?
- When is the next class expected to start and end?
How much money will you be investing?
- What is the price of tuition?
- Does it include the price of a massage table, lotions, textbooks, or licensing exam fees?
- Does the school offer financial aid, scholarships, grants, or payment plans?
Not every Florida massage school is able to accept financial aid. If they don’t, they may have grants, scholarships or payment plans for qualified students. If you qualify for Florida Bright Futures, be sure to ask about this Florida-specific scholarship.
When I was in massage school we made a little money in the last couple of months at our student clinic. We were able to keep part of the fees. I am not sure if any schools still do this or allow the student to use this money to pay off tuition fees.
Is the school privately owned or is it a technical college?
Private schools may cost more than a Technical college. Technical colleges may take longer to complete if the program follows the school calendar. Also, college students may have to take other classes depending on the requirements of the college.
Is there housing options available?
It is very rare that a massage school has student housing options. However, most schools can make suggestions for housing near the school, including short-term rentals.
Are there learning opportunities outside the classroom?
You can only learn so much about massage in the classroom setting. A great deal of information and experience can be gained by bringing in guest speakers, taking field trips, or job shadowing. Getting outside the school doors, especially somewhere you see yourself practicing massage after graduation, is invaluable. This may include cadaver labs, internships, fairs, events, and other volunteer opportunities.
Do they offer business courses?
Teaching you how to give the perfect Swedish massage is one thing, but advice about how to prepare to market yourself after you graduate is extremely important. Some programs only spend ten hours devoted to business. This simply is not enough. Chances are, you will need to take the time to learn about business and marketing on your own if you start your own business.
What is their MBLEx pass rate?
The MBLEx, or Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam, is the approved licensing exam at this time in Florida. It is a 100 multiple choice professional licensing exam and costs over $200 per attempt. All license applicants must pass a licensing exam in order to obtain a Florida massage license.
The MBLEx exam includes anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, client assessment, ethics, and more. If a Florida massage school has a low pass rate, consider it a red flag. A graduate that cannot pass this exam cannot obtain a Florida massage license – even if they have completed a 500-hour program.
If exams make you a little nervous, ask the school if they provide students with study programs to help them pass their MBLEx, like Massage Exam Academy.
Is there help with job placement after graduation?
Many schools will post their job placement rate in their gainful employment information. If they don’t, ask what their placement rate is for graduates or how they help graduates after graduation.
While you are there, here are some things to look for:
Is the appearance of the learning environment professional?
Does the massage school appear clean and feel professional? A professional learning environment should not be chaotic, messy, or unorganized. It should be training professionals and look professional.
Are there positive attitudes among staff and students?
Take time to look inside the classrooms, break rooms, or student clinic. If there is a student massage clinic at the school, schedule an appointment. Not only can you experience a massage from a student, but you can ask them questions about their current training if time allows.
Step 5: Make Your Decision
Last up, before making your final decision and choosing your Florida massage school, ask yourself these last three questions:
- Do feel like this school is a good fit for me?
- Can I see myself learning and thriving here for the next four to eighteen months?
- Will this Florida massage school help me reach my goals in the massage industry?
If you have that feeling you have found the perfect Florida massage school for you, congratulations! Enjoy these next few months of learning, growing, exploring, creating, and joining the exciting massage therapy industry!