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Enrollment, Graduation Decreases in Massage Schools

Posted: March 25, 2009

A decrease in enrollment and graduations from massage schools could mean a tightening of competition within the spa and bodywork industries.

Massage school student enrollments and graduations continued their decline from 2006 to 2008, even as the number of training programs for massage therapists continued to grow during that period, according to new research by Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP). ABMP has conducted biennial research on school trends since 1998 as a service to the profession.

Enrollment has declined 11.9% from 66,653 entrants in 2006 to 58,700 in 2008. Graduates from massage therapy programs in 2008 totaled 53,372, vs. 62,784 graduates in 2006, a decline of 15%.

“ABMP considers these results a continuing market correction that began after the peak in school activity in 2004,” said Les Sweeney, nationally certified massage therapist and ABMP president. “Based on our extensive relationships with massage and bodywork training programs, we noted two years ago that there was a leveling off in the rapid school-enrollment trend. We think that massage and bodywork school enrollment is in the process of settling into a more natural number.”

While the number of massage therapy schools continued to grow over the last two years, the growth rate from 2006 to 2008 was even slower than the growth rate from 2004 to 2006. The number of state-approved schools increased 2.5%, compared to an increase of 7.8% from 2004 to 2006.