Medical Assistant vs. Massage Therapists: What You Need to Know

Massage therapists are on the fringes of healthcare status, just like acupuncturists, chiropractors, and pharmacists — in other words, these people either don’t deal with patients in a healing/treatment capacity, only peripherally play a healthcare role or aren’t part of the general medical care milieu. What is interesting to note, however, is that Massage Therapists (MTs) are licensed but MAs aren’t.

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Massage therapists provide physical stimulation and manipulation to many of the body’s muscles and limbs. They generally attend a technical or trade school in order to obtain a certificate or diploma. They have to graduate from a formal, accredited training or teaching program in order to applyfor a license. In most states, MTs may not practice their craft without such a license. In fact, practicing massage therapy without a license or calling oneself an MT without the proper credentials is a crime; the same goes for nursing.

Here are some of the major differences between Massage Therapists and MAs:

  • Massage therapists can obtain their education certificate/diploma after a relatively short time (compared to most other health professions) or after completing about 500 hours of technical training; in general, a MT can complete their program in even less time than an MA.
  • MTs are licensed just like nurses and unlike MAs; in other words, they can’t do their jobs without such licensure.
  • Surprising, MTs make, on average, about the same as MAs or about $39K per year.
  • MTs generally work for themselves, although some of them can work under or for physical therapists and chiropractors; they can also work for tourist resorts and major hotels and exercising/health clubs. MAs, on the other hand, aren’t independent contractors but paid employees. MAs might not be comfortable going from a paid employee to an independent contractor status.
  • MTs aren’t in danger of acquiring diseases as much as MAs, especially if they wear gloves while performing their duties.
  • Although an MA’s skills might be useful after becoming an MT, for the most part the duties and responsibilities involved are drastically different.
  • Unfortunately, massage therapy is still seen as a non-essential, quasi-beneficial “art” (like acupuncture), which is one of the reasons most health insurances won’t cover it; medical assisting, by contrast, is a medical care providing job the services of which would be paid for by health insurance companies, if the services of MA were itemized on charging bills (which, of course never happens).
  • Massage therapists have to be very careful not to run into people who might ask them for services beyond the scope of legitimate massage therapy or who might accuse them of touching them inappropriately; MAs, like other health professionals, can also run the risk of being accused falsely by some delusional patient but at least in hospitals and nursing homes you have other professionals that can vouch for your innocence, though MTs often provide their services in private. Anyone entering this profession needs to consider this risk.
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Article Written by Rachel Dennis

Rachel Dennis works as both a professional writer and health care provider. She has been a licensed health care provider since 1998, with work experience as a medical assistant, certified nursing assistant and emergency medical technician. She has been writing since 1994 and has been published both on-line and in print.

One Response to “Medical Assistant vs. Massage Therapists: What You Need to Know”
  1. Lillian Schaeffer says:

    Thanks for bringing to my attention that massage therapists can get their certificate pretty quickly. My brother is trying to figure out what he wants to do as a career, and I know he’s interested in doing something that is related to the medical field. I know he wants something he can do pretty quickly, so maybe massage therapy would be good.

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