Many years ago, I talked about this topic, and it got a lot of run particularly in the Strength & Conditioning worlds when I said you should/could just take $85,000 and spend it on massage therapy school and continuing education.
I’m pretty sure even at that time I was solid in suggesting that this is a great route for someone who is quite sure they want to be a Strength Coach or Personal Trainer, and the Massage Therapy route would allow them to be a better coach in terms of improving motion and certain routes of recovery through some manual therapies.
Many good people I know have since gone on to Massage Therapy or Physical Therapy school.
What I’ve found though was that some coaches took the Massage Therapy route to masquerade as a PT or chiro with the access to courses like ART and Facial Manipulation. They used the Massage skills to limit working with other people, and that really wasn’t at all what I was suggesting at all.
We’ve all certainly come to know that we can not legislate against slimy individuals, and in the end, it’s just one person’s opinion, and that one person is me at the moment.
Here are the suggestions in comparing Massage Therapy or Physical Therapy school. I suppose Chiropractic School fits in there as well, but the last I was aware, that doesn’t even require a Bachelor’s Degree to get in, but it does to be at all competitive, so it kind of skews the message of getting any prereqs.
- Financially, there is likely no comparison. Massage therapy will be cheaper, less time meaning less duration of cost, and given 1300+ MT vs. 230 or so PT, locations will likely be more convenient to where any 1 person already lives.
There is probably also much less financial investment in being competitive to apply in terms of prereqs for Massage Therapy school as well.
But again, this is all predicated on what it is you exactly want to do. If you want to be a PT, these financial things are not relevant. If you want to be a coach or trainer that can do some other things that can make you a better trainer, this is where MT probably makes more sense from a financial aspect.
- If you are young or without a lot of other life responsibilities, and you are competitive to get in, PT school is probably the better option. You will have more years to pay it back. It will make you more competitive for S&C and ATC jobs as it did for me (although also potentially threatening or “over-qualified as it also has for me). And you always have a fallback on a workplace that is likely more stable than what we deal with in training or S&C.
It’s also fair to say that PT or even Chiro is more respected in the eyes of a fitness consumer. I tend to think that most people would choose a S&C-PT over an S&C-MT or just an S&C. Mind you, none of these distinctions have anything to do with intelligence or capabilities, but it’s probably the truth in the perception of the public or employment that you are competing for.
In no way, shape, or form are MT and PT the same thing. There’s still a whole host or courses that you can’t get into as an MT. I’ve recently been in PT courses will no longer be open for MTs, and quite frankly, one of the best manual therapy series I’ve taken is the Myopain MTT series with Stuart Wild, who is a Massage Therapist. So as usual, there are pros and cons, and it’s not a completely linear decision-making process.
If you are well-educated and committed to continuing your education of, you can wind up in the same place. But for someone young and green, that is not a projection I think anyone can make.
If you are looking at Massage Therapy as a route just because it seems less obtrusive and financially costly, you’re probably going down the wrong road in my opinion.