The demand for registered massage therapists (RMTs) is rising in Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, our population’s median age is 41 years, and as our country ages, the need for RMTs will increase. In addition, with the increasing emphasis on mental wellness comes a renewed focus on complementary health and wellness treatments, including massage therapy.

If you are interested in or on your way to becoming an RMT in Canada, you are entering a field at the right time as job opportunities grow.

What Is a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT)?

A registered massage therapist is a healthcare and wellness worker working in private practice, clinics, rehabilitation centres, extended care facilities, or hospitals. You will also find them training new RMTs in educational institutions.

A registered massage therapist treating a patient

They assess, treat, and prevent issues of the body’s soft tissues (muscles, lymph, skin, tendons, and ligament tissues) and joints via various degrees of pressure and manipulation. 

Massage therapists are celebrated for delivering relaxation. But massage can also be central for general wellness and healing. 

Sessions are often prescribed to patients by their doctors to reduce tension and stress levels and improve the immune system. Most issues that bring a person to see an RMT relate to pain, dysfunction, injury, disorders, and other medical conditions and illnesses. From a professional athlete with stiff joints to patients with clinical depression or suffering from the side effects of a cancer treatments, an RMT can be a crucial component to someone’s well-being or physical recovery.

What Does a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) Do?

The Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario says that an RMT can help you live a less stressful life. An RMT relieves the pain that prevents you from activities you love or keeping up with your kids and enables you to get your chores done. In addition, they can help you recover from injuries and get you back in the game, literally!

To be exact, a registered massage therapist’s list of functions can involve the following:

  • Listening to the patient’s issues or concerns
  • Assessing their health via tests 
  • Proposing treatment plans 
  • Explaining the plan and all processes involved, including the pros and cons
  • Administering treatment (massage techniques)
  • Teaching their clients self-help programs
  • Suggesting and providing information on other home care instructions (stretching, rehab, etc.)
  • Maintaining client treatment records
  • Consulting, if needed, on developing an overall treatment plan with other health care professionals (physicians, physiotherapists, chiropractors, physicians, psychologists, etc.)

What Types of Massage Therapists Are There?

Some massage therapists choose to expand on their training by specializing in (or learning) new types of massage therapy. Whether this is out of goodwill, personal interest, or to advance skills and potential career success, you will undoubtedly create multiple paths for yourself in your field and towards success.

Here is a straightforward way to look at the diverse types of massage therapists and massage techniques. There is a group of gentler, spa-like massages that are considered therapeutic. Further along the intensity spectrum are the rehabilitative and athletic deep massages you would find at a physio appointment.

Therapeutic massage types:

  • Hot Stone Massage – Aimed at relaxing the muscles and joints; adding the heat of the hot stones to the pressure of your hands can improve blood flow, easing pain and tension.
  • Aromatherapy Massage – Gentle pressure and traditional massage techniques are now paired with the sensory and emotional healing of essential oils. Focus is placed on the areas of your back, shoulders, and head, where you can better enjoy the mood-boosting and anxiety-reducing power of lavender, frankincense, peppermint, or rosemary. 
  • Prenatal Massage – Here, the pressure is kept soft and focused on the back, hips, and legs that take the impact of your body’s growth and change. Pregnancy brings with it many joys, along with quite a few aches and pains!
  • Reflexology – A Chinese medicine practice from ancient times, the concept is that your feet, hands, and ears represent other areas of your body and that by applying pressure there, “blockages” that cause discomfort and pain and illness can be released.
  • Chair MassageThis is a simple, quick, and convenient method for traditional massage techniques in non-therapeutic (i.e., public) places.

Deep massage types:

  • Deep Tissue Massage – This is a massage with more aggressive pressure to reach the deepest muscle layers and connective tissue to release the tightness caused by chronic muscle soreness.
  • Trigger Point Massage – The concept that “trigger points” (muscle tissue tightness) cause extended pain, often chronic, and that deep pressure massage to relieve these points can reduce that pain for people with specific issues or conditions that cause discomfort. 
  • Sports Massage – As with deep tissue and Swedish massage, a sports massage therapist will manipulate the body but focus on the areas most in need based on the client’s sport. The aim is to relieve pain and stiffness and enhance and extend sports performance for those with repetitive stress injuries or those prone to injury.
  • Medial Massage – A medical massage focused on a medical condition rather than relaxation or pain relief. Using rehabilitation techniques, the practitioner focuses on the specific issues of the patient (injury recovery, for example).
  • Thai MassageA Thai technique of using the pressure of the hands over the body while incorporating the stretching and twisting you find in a yoga practice to relieve tension and increase flexibility, blood circulation, and energy.
  • Shiatsu Massage – A Japanese technique using intense pressure of the hands and thumbs in a rhythmic pattern to relax and calm the patient’s stress or anxiety while reducing muscle tension.

How Much Money Does a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) Make?

According to data compiled by, the average annual salary for a registered massage therapist in Canada in 2022 is $79,000 (or $41 hourly). 

The low range of income begins at around $56,000 annually and goes as high as $120,000 per year. It varies from province to province. Nova Scotia and Quebec have much lower income averages, especially compared to B.C. and Ontario.

Another figure from the Government of Canada’s Job Bank gives a range of between $20 per hour and $60 per hour in Ontario.

What Licensing and Certification to Massage Therapists Need?

According to Canada’s Job Bank, the requirements for massage therapists begin with completing a program in massage therapy from an accredited school (they can be 18 to 24 months or 18 to 36 months in duration). Before that, the admission requirements for RMT programs include a high school diploma or the equivalent (specific courses may be required) and a criminal record check. 

You can check with the Canada Council of Massage Therapy School. Their member schools list summarizes the Canadian institutions that meet the requirements for training and education to become a registered massage therapist in our country.

There will also be a business aspect to your education. The goal is to prepare you for the realities of being a professional massage therapist, as two-thirds of workers in the industry are self-employed or work for multiple businesses and clients. 

Beyond specializing in massage therapy, as a successful RMT or business owner you will need to know how to manage additional staff and clients, how to understand and prepare the necessary paperwork for taxes, how to keep track of your finances and understand the value and balance of your assets and liabilities. You will also need a comprehensive registered massage therapist insurance policy to protect your assets and reputation.

Once you have completed your education, you must work a period of supervised practical training. If you plan to operate as a massage therapist in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and British Columbia, you are required to register with a regulatory body. For example, in B.C., an RMT is a health professional regulated by The College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia under B.C.’s Health Professions Act. Meanwhile, the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba supports a minimum entry-to-practice education of two to three years of academic and practical or clinical education.

You may also be required to obtain a professional license. If that is the case, you must have your certification before practising the occupation and using the professional designation. Be sure to find out the specific regulations that apply to you and your situation, and contact the regulatory authority to learn about the certification process.

What Insurance Does a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) Need?

If you plan to become a registered massage therapist in Canada, don’t forget to take care of yourself while taking care of others. Protect yourself, your finances, and your future with insurance. As an RMT, you are potentially subject to third-party claims from your patients alleging injury from your treatments due to negligence or other factors. 

Furthermore, as a small business owner, you also must have a plan to pay for unexpected losses or damages. That’s where business insurance comes into focus: it’s your financial backstop if you are accused of wrongdoing or if your clinic is damaged by a fire, for example.

Insurance for RMTs, also called massage malpractice insurance, provides financial protection against allegations of negligence or errors and omissions that result in damages, losses, or even bodily injury to your patients. A comprehensive RMT policy typically includes malpractice liability coverage, commercial general liability insurance, commercial property insurance, and cyber liability protection. 

Your clients are not the only ones who deserve to relax. Fill out our online application for a free quote for RMT insurance, and get the protection and peace of mind you deserve.

– Reviewed by Ryan Insalaco, Practice Leader, Digital Solutions Team, Zensurance.

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About the Author: Liam Lahey

Liam is the Content Marketing Manager at Zensurance. A writer and editor for more than 20 years, he has been published in several newspapers and magazines, including Yahoo! Canada Finance, Metroland Media, IT World Canada and others.