If you have recently qualified as a sports massage therapist and are looking for work in this area, you are probably itching to get ‘hands on’ with some real work experience.
In this article we will explore some of the different ways you can find sports massage work, the range of employment opportunities available, and where specifically you’ll be able to find sports massage jobs advertised.
Many people starting out as a sports massage therapist set out on a self-employed basis, offering their services to different clients and often in different locations. The work is often freelance, and normally performed alongside other similar roles, like personal training or group exercise instruction.
Some of the more common ways in which sports massage therapists find work on a self-employed term include:
• Mobile services in the home or workplace
• Sporting events
• Sports clubs
• Private clinics
• Pilates studios
• Gyms and health clubs
The freelance model works well for many massage therapists because it offers the most flexibility in terms of benefits. First and foremost, you are your own boss and so you can to some extent pick and choose the hours that you want to work, where you want to work and how much you will charge. This, of course, comes with the caveat that you need to be available when your clients are available and the location and price needs to meet your client’s needs also. Being self-employed isn’t all plane sailing however because you’ll be responsible for all the marketing, promotion, advertising costs, legal expenses and risks. It’s certainly not a decision that should be taken lightly.
The alternative to working freelance is to gain employment, where you work a set number of hours each week, whether part-time or full-time, providing a sports massage service within a dedicated facility (e.g. leisure club, spa, private physiotherapy clinic, sports team, athletic club, or a PT studio or gym).
There are numerous benefits to being employed, with the biggest being that you will have a regular salary and receive other employment benefits, like paid holidays, pension contribution and potentially, sick pay. However, massage is physically demanding, especially sports massage which at times involves using more pressure and friction than other forms of bodywork. If you have to perform a set number of treatments every day or week then it can start to take its toll on your own health, especially if you don’t pay close attention to your own posture and technique while applying treatments.
There is no single best solution for finding employment opportunities in sports massage. Like with most job searches, grit, determination and a little creativity often pay dividends.
If you are looking for freelance opportunities, then it can be worth travelling around to different clubs, clinics and massage service providers, speaking directly with the managers and owners. This way they get to see you in person and they can gauge your energy, professionalism and general presentation. You can leave them your CV and business card and if you really wanted to make an impression, you could even offer to provide a free treatment for the manager or a staff member by way of practical interview. Taking the initiative and demonstrating your skills is surely likely to impress.
Most people start their search for jobs on the internet and sports massage boasts an impressive number of matches for the search term ‘sports massage jobs’. At the time of writing, there were over 900 different vacancies advertised throughout the UK, with the highest number of vacancies in the south (40%). In London alone, there were over 210 jobs advertised across 5 major recruitment sites (including Indeed, Reed, Leisure Opportunities, Leisure Jobs and Jobsite). Here are just a few of the organisations advertising vacancies at the time of writing.
While jobs websites can be a great way of finding out about employment opportunities, they do tend to also be saturated with paid ads for products which aren’t always as they seem. Certainly, in the leisure industry, you find training companies and health clubs advertising vacancies which aren’t actually vacancies at all, they are training opportunities with the promise of a self-employed role at the end of the training. These operators have been guilty of over-egging the salary with the goal of enticing you into the training. There are some really fantastic and well-paid opportunities available but make sure you do your research.
Finding out about national and regional sporting events (e.g. half marathons, Ironman etc) and charity fitness events (e.g. Race for Life, MoonWalk etc) are a great place to start. If you contact the event coordinators to see if they are recruiting massage staff, they will often take your details and give you a call when opportunities are available. It’s not uncommon for these types of events to want volunteers as opposed to paid workers, but this can be a great way to get valuable work experience and bolster your CV somewhat.
If you do deliver a good service then you may, in fact, be invited back to support other events with paid work. Volunteering can often be a great way to promote your private sports massage services, especially if you are working locally. The promotional benefits of this kind of work is definitely not something that should be underestimated.
Something that you will need to consider if you are working as a volunteer, or as a self-employed practitioner, is equipment. You will often have to supply your own massage tools and resources, including your massage table or chair, oils and towels. Certainly, if you are working on a self-employed basis, you’ll also need your own insurance. If you are volunteering then you’ll need to check whether the event organisers policy covers you or not.
National sports councils and governing bodies can also be a great place for information about work-based opportunities in sports massage therapy and for this reason they are always worth connecting with. Some of the more widely known organisations include:
It is beyond the scope of this article to advertise specific sports massage jobs but we do want to illustrate where such opportunities are available and the pay and salary that you can expect to receive.
Summarised below are a number of different massage opportunities, the location and pay. This will provide you with a greater sense of what you can expect to earn.
To find out more about this subject, read our dedicated article on sports massage pay and salaries.
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