A masseur/masseuse


Masseurs/masseuses perform massages to help their clients relax and de-stress according to their preferences. They use appropriate massages, equipment and oils and also instruct their clients on techniques to improve relaxation.

Excludes people performing massages for medical ailments.

The duties of a masseur/masseuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Maintaining proper sanitation standards, including wearing gloves, using clean linens, and disposing of soiled linens after each client
  • Making recommendations for additional treatment options if a client’s condition changes or if symptoms do not improve over time
  • Performing massage, including Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, aromatherapy massage, reflexology, sports massage, prenatal massage, acupressure, shiatsu, and others
  • Assessing clients’ physical condition and discussing any contraindications with them before beginning treatment
  • Providing basic first aid to clients during a massage session or at any other time as needed
  • Explaining the benefits and risks of any treatments being performed and obtaining consent from clients before starting sessions
  • Using oils, lotions, lotion scrubs, gels, creams, wraps, powders, and other products as needed to perform massage services
  • Communicating with clients about their progress and any issues that may arise during treatment sessions
  • Performing administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, maintaining client records, and ordering supplies for the business

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to masseur/masseuse:

swedish massage therapist
deep tissue massage therapist
professional masseuse
medical masseur
thai massage therapist
salon therapist
clinical masseur/masseuse
trigger point massage therapist
professional massage therapist
massage therapist

Working conditions

Some massage therapists travel to local events, clients’ homes or other sites. Others work out of their own homes. Massage therapists, especially those who are self-employed, may provide their own table or chair, sheets, pillows, and body lotions or oils.

Massage therapists’ working conditions vary. For example, some therapists provide relaxing massages in dimly lit settings and use candles, incense, and soothing music. Others offer rehabilitative massages in brightly lit clinical settings or at outdoor events.

Injuries and Illnesses

Because giving massages is physically demanding, massage therapists may injure themselves if they do not use proper technique. Repetitive-motion problems and fatigue from standing for extended periods are most common.

Therapists can limit these risks by using good body mechanics, spacing sessions properly, exercising, and receiving a massage regularly themselves.

Work Schedules

Part-time work is common for massage therapists. Because therapists usually work by appointment, their schedules and the number of hours worked each week vary considerably. Moreover, because of the strength and endurance needed to give a massage, many therapists cannot perform massage services 8 hours per day, 5 days per week.

Minimum qualifications

Most masseurs/masseuses earn an associate’s degree or a certificate from a massage therapy program. These programs are typically offered by community colleges and technical schools. Courses in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and massage techniques are included in these programs.

Masseurs/masseuses typically receive most of their training through their education and work experience. During their education, students will learn the basics of the job, including the different massage techniques, how to properly set up a massage room and how to interact with clients. Massage therapists will also learn about the different massage techniques and how to properly perform them.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Masseur/masseuse is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Masseur/masseuse career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to masseur/masseuse.

hair removal technician
hairdresser assistant

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of masseur/masseuse. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of masseur/masseuse with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

massage therapist
shiatsu practitioner
body artist
life coach

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of masseur/masseuse.

  • Contraindications: The condition under which a normally beneficial treatment can be harmful and have a counterproductive effect on a person’s health.
  • Massage theory: Principles of holistic therapeutic body massage, the application of massage techniques and the appropriate body posture, massage sequences and different mediums, massage benefits and contraindications.
  • Massage types: Techniques used and types of massage therapies such as shiatsu, deep tissue massage, Swedish, hot stone and Thai massage.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of masseur/masseuse.

  • Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
  • Maintain personal hygiene standards: Preserve impeccable personal hygiene standards and have a tidy appearance.
  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Give massages: Provide clients with head, hand, neck, facial or full body massages.
  • Develop personalised massage plan: Determine the massage treatment to be applied based on the medical diagnosis, the prescription plan, and according to the condition of the patient.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Maintain privacy of service users: Respect and maintain the dignity and privacy of the client, protecting his or her confidential information and clearly explaining policies about confidentiality to the client and other parties involved.
  • Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
  • Manage personal professional development: Take responsibility for lifelong learning and continuous professional development. Engage in learning to support and update professional competence. Identify priority areas for professional development based on reflection about own practice and through contact with peers and stakeholders.
  • Apply massage therapy: Apply massage therapy to relieve patient’s pain by using various specialised techniques.
  • Accept own accountability: Accept accountability for one`s own professional activities and recognise the limits of one`s own scope of practice and competencies.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of masseur/masseuse. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Musculoskeletal anatomy: The human musculoskeletal system, comprising of the skeleton, muscles, cartilage, tendons, joints and other connective tissue that supports and binds tissues and organs together. The human musculoskeletal system’s primary functions, such as supporting the body, allowing motion, and protecting vital organs.
  • Balneotherapy: The use of therapeutic baths to treat a variety of conditions, through relaxation, massage or stimulation techniques. This includes the beneficial properties of mineral waters and mud-wrapping techniques.
  • Etiopathy: Alternative medicine therapy which has as its basis the idea that the practitioner uses only his hands to treat the patients’ symptoms on longer term by diagnosing the deeper cause of the illness.
  • Fasciatherapy: A manual therapy applied on the fascia (the connective tissue woven through the entire body) which is used for the treatment of physical or psychological disorders such as pain and movement disorders.
  • Cosmetic pedicure: Treatment of the feet and toenails for cosmetic and embellishment purposes. It includes the cleaning of dead skin and the appliance of nail polish and other cosmetic techniques.
  • Reflexology: The application of pressure to plantar, palmar, facial, cranial, dorsal, atrial and reflex points of the body with a specific finger or hand gestures and techniques, such as acupressure and the massage of reflex points located on the body.
  • Cosmetic manicure: Various elements of a manicure, such as the cutting and shaping of toe- or fingernails, removing excess callouses and cuticle around nails, and applying a protective or decorative coat of nail polish.
  • Kinetics: The study of movement and its causes.
  • Energy therapy: Alternative medicine therapy which assumes that healers use the channel healing energy to get positive effects on the patients` well-being.
  • Cosmetics: The various types of substances used to enhance the appearance of the human body.
  • Hydrotherapy: The practice used to treat diseases or maintain overall health using water.
  • Electrotherapy: The type of medical treatment using electrical stimulation.
  • Shiatsu: The complementary medicine massage therapy which is based on the theoretical framework of traditional Chinese medicine and it is performed by finger massages on clients to reduce their stress and pain according to the shiatsu principles.
  • Skin types: The different skin types, such as dry, normal, oily, and sensitive.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of masseur/masseuse. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Order supplies: Command products from relevant suppliers to get convenient and profitable products to purchase.
  • Ensure proper appointment administration: Set up a proper procedure to manage appointments, including policies related to cancellation and nonappearance.
  • Perform shiatsu massages: Perform massages on clients to reduce their stress and pain according to the shiatsu principles, based on the theoretical framework of traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Manage a small-to-medium business: Manage the organisational, financial and day-to-day operation of a small-to-medium enterprise.
  • Apply deep tissue massage: Apply precise techniques and pressures to bring changes to specific tissue layers in the body.
  • Maintain equipment: Regularly inspect and perform all required activities to maintain the equipment in functional order prior or after its use.
  • Apply sports massage: Perform massage techniques meant to address and help recover sports injuries such as sprains, torn ligaments and broken limbs.
  • Apply acupuncture: Use procedures involving the stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques, such as penetrating the skin with thin, metallic needles manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation in order to relieve pain or achieve other therapeutic benefits.
  • Apply thermotherapy: Use heating and cooling techniques to treat musculoskeletal injuries and soft tissue injuries.
  • Administer hydrotherapy: Formulate treatment plans and provide hydrotherapy treatment.
  • Liaise with industry experts: Consult and cooperate with industry experts who handle matter that is relevant to you and your business.
  • Pluck hair: Use tweezers or electric devices to remove hair by mechanically grasping them and pulling them out of the roots.
  • Use hair removal lasers: Use lasers that remove hair by exposing the hair to pulses of laser light that destroy hair follicles.
  • Maintain professional administration: File and organise professional administration documents comprehensively, keep customer records, fill in forms or log books and prepare documents about company-related matter.
  • Administer appointments: Accept, schedule and cancel appointments.
  • Apply aromatherapy: Use the therapeutic benefits of essential oils to produce massage blends, cream or lotions and help improve the physical and emotional health and well-being.
  • Process payments: Accept payments such as cash, credit cards and debit cards. Handle reimbursement in case of returns or administer vouchers and marketing instruments such as bonus cards or membership cards. Pay attention to safety and the protection of personal data.
  • Show entrepreneurial spirit: demonstrate a proactive attitude and determination to achieve success in business
  • Perform facial treatment: Perform all kinds of treatments to improve the health and attractiveness of the facial skin, such as facial masks, scrubs, eyebrow tinting, peels, hair removal and make-up.
  • Develop a collaborative therapeutic relationship: Develop a mutually collaborative therapeutic relationship during treatment, fostering and gaining healthcare users’ trust and cooperation.
  • Provide individual exercise programmes: Provide a range of exercise programmes in accordance with the needs of the clients by applying principles of exercise programming, and modifying and moderating as necessary to support effective and safe exercising.
  • Conduct pregnancy massages: Perform massages for pregnant women to sooth the discomfort as well as making the labour process easier.

ISCO group and title

5142 – Beauticians and related workers

  1. Masseur/masseuse – ESCO
  2. Massage Therapists : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Masseuse Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  4. Featured image: Photo by Ale Romo on Unsplash
Last updated on November 22, 2022

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