Skills required to be a massage therapist

How to Become a Massage Therapist UK

If you know anything about the fitness industry, you will have seen how sports massage therapy has boomed in recent years, with many healthcare professionals and personal trainers looking into how to become a massage therapist UK, in order to help grow their businesses and increase their client reach.

But is sports massage therapy right for everyone?

In this ultimate guide of how to become a sports massage therapist, we’ll take you through all the key information regarding how to become a massage therapist UK.

If you stick with us through this guide, you’ll have gained all the knowledge you need to start an exciting career in a constantly expanding industry, including up to date research on the jobs market, how to market yourself when starting out, and much, much more.

So what are you waiting for? Get stuck in!


Become a Qualified Sports Massage Therapist

Start a New & Exciting Career in Sports Massage


Is there a need for sports massage therapists?

When researching how to become a massage therapist UK, you need to ensure that there is demand for your services, especially if you’re intending to make the switch from another sector.

We know that the course options are out there, but the tricky part of making such a decision is researching post-course options and avenues for employment.

That is, it was tricky until now…

For this ultimate guide, we conducted some original, 2018 research to discern what the jobs market is like for sports massage therapists, and how you might stand to gain from undertaking a qualification in this field.

We reviewed 13 UK jobs boards including, Indeed, Total Jobs, Gumtree, as well as more niche sites like LeisureJobs, to find out how many sports massage jobs were advertised via these platforms at the time of writing.

Note, we looked specifically for jobs that would be accessible for newly qualified massage therapists, and so eliminated anything that required years of industry experience.

This is what we found…


Who needs a sports massage therapist?

It’s a good question, and one that a startling number of prospective massage therapists fail to ask.

If you don’t know who needs a massage therapist, then how are you meant to plan your business, research your target audiences, or even get passionate about your future career?

In short, knowing who your target audience is is probably one of the most important stages of research when looking into how to become a massage therapist UK?

There exists a wide variety of reasons why you might want to visit a sports massage therapist, but, from our research conducting interviews with existing massage therapists, we discovered that most clients comprise of people who suffer from one of the following:

As you might have guessed, a lot of your work will be in the context of rehabilitation and physiotherapy.

As opposed to personal training, where your job is to maximise gains in the gym towards a client’s target, here your job is more strictly anatomical: giving the body the best chance possible to heal.


What will you learn on a sports massage therapist course?

This all depends on your experience.

If you’re a Level Four qualified personal trainer, then you’re already going to have an in-depth knowledge of anatomy and injury. However, if you’ve only just completed your Level Two, then your learning curve will be steeper.

That’s not to say that a Sports Massage Therapy course is inaccessible for individuals who don’t consider themselves “academic.”

In our experience as a course provider, we have found that our best sports massage therapy students are those who have a passion for working in the industry, and bring that passion forwards to completing their course materials. By researching how to become a massage therapist UK at an early stage, you’re already getting ahead of the game in terms of your preparation.

In terms of content then, your course will largely resemble the following modules:


Do you have the skills you need to become a massage therapist UK?

When asking yourself questions about changing career in any context, whether that’s how to become a massage therapist UK when you’re a gym instructor, or how to change industry entirely, you need to think if you match the skills required of that profession.

You could be the best sports massage student in the world, but if you lack conversational skills with your patients and clients, then your hopes of securing a paid position or setting up a business will be thin.

There is, of course, no definitive list of attributes you need to become a successful sports massage therapist. However, in our experience as a training provider, here are some of the core skills that our most successful students have all possessed.

The job description of a sports massage therapist…What are the key responsibilities of a sports massage therapist?

Again, this is a question that a confusing number of prospective massage therapists fail to ask at the start of their career journeys, and that a surprising number of articles on the subject of how to become a massage therapist UK fail to address.

This is because, on paper, it sounds quite straight forward…

Surely a sports massage therapist’s job is to deliver sports massages in a therapeutic context…

But that’s only the start!

To get to the bottom of the day-to-day workings of a real sports massage therapist, and to be done away with all the guess-work, we asked some of OriGym’s qualified massage therapists to give us an insight into their working lives.

Here’s the most common answers we received:


How to become a massage therapist UK: All the qualifications you need!

Now, listen up because we’ve reached the sharp end of how to become a massage therapist UK.

If you want to get started with sports massage therapy, you’re going to need your sports massage therapy qualification (an obvious point).

And to get a qualification, you’re going to need to find an accredited course provider (less obvious, it seems).

But what does all that mean in practical terms?

Well, the first place many people go wrong is not realising the difference between an accreditation and a qualification. But you don’t need to worry about any of that, as we’ve prepared a full explanation of all the key details you need (because we’re nice like that).


Let’s start with qualifications

A qualification is what is produced by an awarding organisation, or governing body as they are also known.

A high-quality awarding organisation will be Ofqual regulated (Ofqual is essentially the sister organisation to larger, more well-known organisations like Ofsted).


And how about accreditations?

An accreditation, on the other hand, is a third party’s stamp of approval for a qualification. Individual qualifications can receive accreditations, as well as independent training providers or colleges.

It is therefore paramount that you check who the accrediting bodies are in the industry, before selecting your course provider.


So, what should you look out for when selecting a sports massage therapy course provider?

Once you know your qualifications from your accreditations, choosing a course provider is simply a matter of looking out for a handful of qualifications, and then checking if your course provider has recognition from the main two accrediting bodies for fitness industry courses.


Checking that the course you are enrolling on is recognised as one of the above qualifications, and is backed by REPs and CIMSPA is essential.

Without these, you might end up with a qualification that doesn’t teach you the essential modules, or that employers won’t recognise when it comes to applying for work.

Now, think of a new scenario…

Let’s say, for example, you’ve done all your research, found multiple colleges and providers that offer accredited sports massage courses, and that tick all the boxes you were looking for…

Now, how an earth are you meant to choose?

Here is our checklist for you to ensure you find the right sports massage course for your needs:


1. Location

If you have gone through all of the above points and are still torn, your best bet is to start researching reviews of the course providers you are considering.

One caveat here is that you should always check reviews via an independent body like Trustpilot: reviews published on a course provider’s webpage can be misleading.

Equally, you might be tempted to rely on Facebook or Google reviews, however unfortunately these can be purchased online, which again leads to misleading ratings for poorly run businesses.

See below for a list of verified platforms which remove non-verified reviews to ensure you, as the customer, are receiving only the most reliable information.


2. Study Method

A course is not all about the content.

You should consider the method of delivery with equal importance to location. Why? Well, you know how you like to learn more than anyone, so choosing wisely from one of the following options will give you the maximum chance for success in terms of how to become a massage therapist UK:

3. Contact Time & Support – How much support will you get when becoming qualified in sports massage therapy

When looking at how to become a massage therapist UK, you’re bound to compare some courses. And when comparing sports massage courses, you want bear in mind that no two courses are the same, despite covering the same core modules.

How does that make sense?

Well, as we’ve mentioned, there are more factors than just course content to consider. One of the main factors is the availability of support from tutors and staff at your course provider.

Before making a final decision, consider the following:


4. How long has the company been up and running

Like the size of the company or the number of courses they own, the duration a company has been operating does not guarantee quality.

What is does guarantee is structure.

A long-established company will be long-established for a reason, and if you sign up with them they’re unlikely to go insolvent or bankrupt during your course. This is particularly important in terms of post course support.


5. Payment plans and sports massage course costs

While we wish it was the case that you pay for what you get, we all know from being ripped off in the past that sometimes, it’s difficult to determine real value.

The best way to determine if a course is right for you is to seek information about the accrediting bodies, the qualification itself, and the delivery method of the course content.

Your next question, however, has to be can I afford this?

You should never risk financial safety when chasing a qualification, and equally, you shouldn’t choose to a suspiciously cheap course just because of the price.

Your best bet is to find a course provider with flexible payment plans, and then ask that provider’s enrolment team about all of the options for paying for their course.

Here are some of the essential questions we’d ask if we were looking into how to become a sports massage therapist:

You’ll soon see that companies have different answers to these questions, and the best company for you is the one that offers you the most flexibility in terms of how you pay for their course.


6. Additional costs

Remember, a college or training provider does NOT legally have to tell you every single term and condition.

It is up to you, as the consumer, to ask if there are any additional charges.

This can make things tricky, as the average consumer isn’t usually aware of what the additional charges might be, never mind asking about them specifically.

In general then, watch out for:

When comparing sports massage courses, bear in mind that some of these providers will have all these charges applied, some will have a combination, and some will have none at all.

This can make a cheap course rapidly sky-rocket in price, or a seemingly expensive course quickly become the best option.


7. Other related factors

There are a whole host of additional factors to consider while researching how to become a sports massage therapist.

We can’t cover them all, but below is a list of considerations which you should think about while choosing your course provider:

As you can see, there are a lot of questions you can find to ensure you are committing to the right provider for your needs.


8. Sports massage course reviews

If you have gone through all of the above points and are still torn, your best bet is to start researching reviews of the course providers you are considering.

One caveat here is that you should always check reviews via an independent body like Trustpilot: reviews published on a course provider’s webpage can be misleading.

Equally, you might be tempted to rely on Facebook or Google reviews, however unfortunately these can be purchased online, which again leads to misleading ratings for poorly run businesses.

See below for a list of verified platforms which remove non-verified reviews to ensure you, as the customer, are receiving only the most reliable information.

And with that, our chapter on choosing the right qualification for you is done!

So, where next?

With any luck, your next move will be to start earning money by landing a job, or by starting a business all of your own.


How much do Sports Massage therapists make (UK)?

Let’s be honest here…

Your passion for fitness, and for working in this exciting industry, is what got you this far. It’s how you ended up researching how to become a personal trainer or how to become a massage therapist UK. It might be even the sole factor that brought you to our website.

However, the reality of work, and the main factor driving you to qualify as a sports massage therapist and that will ensure that you can remain in this industry, is your potential earnings.

We’d all love to follow our passions, but there comes a point where finances also come into it.

So, if you were worried about what you’re earning potential would be once you become a sports massage therapist, relax. This next section is for you.

Based on the 500 sports massage therapy jobs we analysed, over 350 were for full time positions. We also found that:


What organisations hire sports massage therapists?

Because sports massage therapy is a bit of a hybrid profession – it crosses over into personal training, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, and more – it can actually be quite difficult to track down the places that might hire you.

As you can imagine, this might be a problem once you’ve qualified…

We wanted to look not only how much employers were paying, but who the employers were.

The first avenue we spotted, which you might not expect, were physiotherapy clinics.

We found that many private physio clinics pay sports massage therapists a salary, or at the very least have freelance opportunities available on a regular basis, in order to provide an additional service to their clients.

Again, this is because physiotherapy is so closely linked with various forms of massage therapy, so it benefits the physiotherapy clinics to have a wide range of skills on site. Indeed, in your research of how to become a massage therapist UK, you’ll most likely encounter this route to employment more than any other.

Outside of physiotherapy, we started listing down all the other locations who were hiring sports massage therapists, to get a wider picture of how the industry looks in 2018.

Below you can see all the employers we found, plus the share of jobs each location offered in relation to all of the jobs we found in our research.


A staggering 56% of people were working in a health clubs, private gyms or Leisure Centres.

Should we be surprised by the results?

Probably not…and here’s why:

We asked the 56% who said they now worked in Health Clubs, Leisure Centres and Gyms if they were qualified in fitness instructing or personal training.


So, what does this have to do with anything?

Well, it shows the career path of most sports massage therapists…

How attaining your level three personal training qualification and sports massage therapy really go hand in hand, and how many personal trainers qualify as massage therapists to extend their client reach, and visa versa.


What do practicing sports massage therapists have to say?

After many, many hours of research, we decided a change of tact was needed.

Getting a view of the market from the outside is all well and good, but why not track down some real personal trainers and massage therapists, to see why they chose to become sports massage therapists, and what are the perks of the job.


What about insurance for sports massage therapists?

Like many professions, when deciding how to become a massage therapist UK, you need to research what relevant insurance policies you need to take out in order to operate as a sports masseur legally.

Or rather, we have to research what insurance policies you need – and we have!

First of all, let’s outline out insurance helps you grow your business by protecting you against unforeseen circumstances:

Before you go!

Feeling motivated? Good!

A career in sports massage therapy is both exciting and varied, and now you have everything you need to know in terms of knowing how to become a sports massage therapist (UK).

If you're interested in starting your fitness career, why not download our free prospectus, or check out our very own Level 3 Sports Massage Course!


Become a Qualified Sports Massage Therapist

Start a New & Exciting Career in Sports Massage

Written by Luke Hughes

CEO and Co-Founder

Join Luke on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Luke is the CEO and Co-Founder of OriGym. Holding a first-class degree in Sport and Exercise and an MSc in Sport and Nutrition, he is also qualified as a Level 4 Personal Trainer with various specialist credentials covering the entire spectrum of health, fitness and business. Luke has contributed to a variety of major industry publications, including Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Metro, Cosmopolitan, The Mirror, The Sun, The Standard and more.

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