Top Massage Therapy Schools in Virginia | 2023 Ranking

The Commonwealth of Virginia is a hot and growing market for massage therapists, from Richmond to Virginia Beach to Williamsburg. 

Massage therapy is widespread in spas, salons, hotels, hospitals, physical therapy offices, wellness centers, and the private sector.

Massage schools in Virginia offer training in everything from Swedish and deep-tissue massage to sports and prenatal massage. 

Also, massage schools in Virginia can help you prepare for certification by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

Keep reading to learn more about the best massage therapy schools in Virginia.

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Are There Massage Therapy Schools In Virginia?

There are a good number of massage therapy schools in Virginia. Some of them are listed below:

  • Northern Virginia Community College
  • ECPI University
  • John Tyler Community College
  • Southside Virginia Community College
  • Patrick Henry Community College
  • Dabney S Lancaster Community College
  • Eastern Virginia Career College
  • Fortis College-Norfolk
  • Columbia College
  • Chester Career College
  • Sylvain Melloul International Hair Academy
  • Centura College-Virginia Beach
  • Cayce/Reilly School of Massage
  • Northern Virginia School of Therapeutic Massage
  • American Massage & Bodywork Institute

How Does One Become A Massage Therapist In Virginia?

MT schools require applicants to have a high school diploma or a GED. Students can improve their chances of admission by taking college-level science, business, and psychology classes.

To become a massage therapist in Virginia, you must first attend an accredited postsecondary school approved by the Virginia State Council of Higher Education. The MT program must have a minimum of 500 clock hours.

National standards require that programs include anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and pathology courses. 

Furthermore, business, law and ethics, and hygiene classes are common. Massage techniques and other therapeutic methods are taught to students.

Following graduation, a prospective practitioner must pass the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. 

The organization has an online registration process that costs around $200. The exam is scheduled at a Pearson VUE testing center in the state by the students. The results are reported to the state board by the company.

Practitioners will be required to renew their licenses every other year and complete 24 hours of continuing education. 

At least one hour of professional ethics is required. Massage therapists recognized by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork are exempt from the CE requirement.

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What Are The Best Massage Therapy Schools In Virginia?

We chose the colleges listed below based on their courses, accreditation, student body, graduation rate, and reputation.

1. Northern Virginia Community College

  • Graduation Rate-26%
  • Student Population-50929

This is the largest public university in the state and, in terms of enrolment, the second-largest community college in the country. 

The Woodbridge eastern Prince William County campus is home to the MT certificate program.

Interpersonal Communication, CPR, Lifetime Fitness and Wellness, Principles of Nutrition, First Aid and Safety, Human Sexuality, Exercise Science, Stress Management, General Pharmacology, Therapy for the Older Adult, and a prerequisite in biology or health science are just a few of the required courses in the 25-credit curriculum.

Hydrotherapy, Shiatsu, polarity techniques, pain management, self-care habits, clinical bodywork, and advanced massage modalities are the pre- and post-event massage topics.

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2. ECPI University

  • Graduation Rate-49%
  • Student Population-12947

East Coast Polytechnic Institute, a private institution with 19 sites in Virginia and the Carolinas, was once known as the ECPI College of Technology. Students from MT go to schools in Richmond and Newport News.

Six hundred forty-five contact hours are required for the certificate program in 10 months of full-time study. Day and evening class options are available. 

Students study the core courses and acquire medical and special populations massage techniques. 

In addition to offering job placement assistance, the institution provides a Career Orientation session.

Participants in the program gain real-world experience through an internship and a student clinic: every five weeks, the first day of class.

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3. John Tyler Community College

  • Graduation Rate-26%
  • Student Population-10144

Despite having its headquarters in Chester, this school’s MT students attend classes on a campus with six buildings in Midlothian, a Richmond suburb. 

Advisory groups of prominent local businesspeople govern all JTCC technical programs.

Less than a year is needed to complete the three-semester MT career studies certificate curriculum. 

Students must earn a minimum of 18 credits. In addition to the required courses, they also enroll in Principles of Psychology, Business Skills for the Health Services Practitioner, Nutrition, and Cardiac Care. 

Also, Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, prenatal, and infant massage techniques are included in the classes.

Through internships and on-campus labs, the curriculum offers real-world exposure.

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4. Southside Virginia Community College

  • Graduation Rate-32%
  • Student Population-3430

SVCC is a seven-campus, medium-sized university in a rural area of southern Virginia. The Estes Community Center in the unincorporated community of Chase City is home to the MT certificate program.

In as little as six months, you might complete the program. Attending evening sessions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for a year is an option. 

Cosmetology Theory is a course that students take in addition to their regular core classes. 

Along with conventional Swedish, prenatal, elderly, sports, corporate chair, and deep tissue treatments, they also study “standard massage techniques.”

A business internship is part of the program.

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5. Patrick Henry Community College

  • Graduation Rate-32%
  • Student Population- 2266

Eight miles north of Martinsville, in a rural setting, sits this small public school.

A minimum of 39 credits are required for the three-semester Therapeutic Massage certificate program. 

Concepts of Disease, Introduction to Personal Wellness Concepts, Muscles and Massage, and College Success Skills are a few of the courses offered.

Additionally, students must complete 15 credits in each of the general education courses listed below: Human Biology, CPR, Yoga, Small Business Management, and College Composition I and II.

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6. Dabney S Lancaster Community College

  • Graduation Rate-40%
  • Student Population-981

This public university offers a nine-month, 750-hour, and 25-credit MT certificate program.

Students enroll for two semesters in either the spring and summer or the fall and spring semesters. 

They go to the Roanoke Higher Education Center or the Rockbridge Center in Buena Vista for their classes.

Eastern-Asian Bodywork, CPR, College Success Skills, Musculoskeletal Structure/Function, Exercise Science, and three therapeutic massage classes are part of the program.

Additionally, students work as interns. One hundred hours of anatomy and physiology and 200 hours of massage theory and practice are required to enter the program.

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7. Eastern Virginia Career College

  • Graduation Rate-71%
  • Student Population-235

The Health and Beauty Academy, a private school in Fredericksburg, has added more vocational categories. 

The Wellness & Beauty Department includes the MT certificate program.

The 750-hour program includes 135 hours of clinical work, 252 hours of lab work, and 363 hours of lectures. 

There are modules in Hydrology & Neuromuscular, Special Populations, Lymph & Prenatal, Hot Stone & Reflexology, Sports Massage, and Eastern modalities in addition to the standard curriculum.

In The Spa at Eastern, a facility on campus, students spend 90 hours doing massages and other treatments. About 85% of graduates pass the licensing exam on their first try.

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8. Fortis College-Norfolk

  • Graduation Rate-54%
  • Student Population-293

Forty schools in this for-profit network of career colleges and institutions are spread across 15 states. 

Several campuses grant certificates in massage therapy, including the ones in Richmond and Norfolk.

The 720-hour course of study spans 36 weeks. Classes start in April, May, July, August, October, and November. 

Also, Swedish, deep-tissue, sports, and orthopedic massage methods are covered, along with spa procedures.

Students practice massage techniques and other forms of therapy at a clinic on campus. They also study clinic administration. The school offers classes for continuing education as well as career services.

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9. Columbia College

  • Graduation Rate-61%
  • Student Population-144

This small private college, which has campuses in Fairfax, has three massage therapy programs available at its extension campuses in Centerville and Silver Spring.

Students who complete a 600-hour, the 67-credit curriculum in 30 weeks receive certificates. There is also a certificate in Asian bodywork therapy. 

A 70-week associate’s degree program lasts that long. Ninety-one credits total for the required coursework plus courses in Lymph Drainage Massage, Myofascial Release, Sports Massage, and Pregnancy/Special Populations Massage.

Students engage in a 100-hour practicum, work at a clinic on campus, go on excursions, and listen to guest speakers.

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10. Chester Career College

  • Graduation Rate-50%
  • Student Population-171

This tiny job training school offers a 64-credit MT certificate program over one year in the same city.

The fundamental classes include Maternal Child, Psychology, Career Development, Clinical Assisting, Pharmacology, and Medical Office and Health Science. 

Furthermore, English composition, literature, math, and computers are all covered in general education courses. Shiatsu, Thai massage, Chinese medicine, trigger-point treatment, myofascial release, rolfing, and sports massage are all covered in training.

The student-to-teacher ratio at Virginia community colleges is 16:1, above average. Students complete two internships and 100 hours of practice at the school’s day spa.

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11. Sylvain Melloul International Hair Academy

  • Graduation Rate-60%
  • Student Population-88

This small private school is located in River Ridge Mall in Lynchburg. In 2018, it began offering a certificate program in massage treatment.

However, 900 hours of full-time study are allocated to the six-month program. There are day and night schedules available. 

Classes in Swedish Massage, Hydrotherapy, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Sports/Special Populations Massage, Acupuncture, Hot Stone Therapy, Somatic Psychology, Spa Therapy, History, and Career Opportunities are available in addition to the standard courses.

Students gain communication skills with patients and medical personnel. Sylvain has a 100 percent admission record, but program spots are restricted. 

They spend 120 hours in clinical settings, including the school’s “full-service salon.”

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12. Centura College-Virginia Beach

  • Graduation Rate-44%
  • Student Population-102

Classes for massage therapy students are held in Virginia Beach or Chesapeake.

Both locations offer a 945-hour certificate program with 24 credits—including general education courses. 

The introductory coursework, Myology, Clinical Massage, and Success in College and the Workplace, are all included in the eight-month curriculum.

In Chesapeake, a 60-credit, 1,080-hour associate of occupational science degree lasts 15 months. 

Also, Shiatsu, nutrition, critical thinking, and other studies are included in the curriculum in addition to the same courses offered in the certificate program. 

Pregnancy, sports, myofascial, and deep-tissue massage are all taught to students. Participants in each program gain practical training at a student clinic.

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13. Cayce/Reilly School of Massage

  • Graduation Rate-85%
  • Student Population-24

The 1987-founded institution in Virginia Beach “offers the tools for holistic health, spiritual development, and personal empowerment.”

The 720-hour certificate program includes the typical standard courses and can be finished in as little as eight months. 

Additionally, nutrition, health, and wellness classes are offered, introduction to Asian theory, business development, hydrotherapy, and reflexology. 

There are also classes in mind/body/spirit. Clinical, chair, trigger-point, and sports massage techniques are taught to students.

A student clinic where Swedish massage, reflexology, and other treatments are given to members of the public is required as part of the curriculum, along with two clinical practices totaling 55 hours.

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14. Northern Virginia School of Therapeutic Massage

  • Graduation Rate-N/A
  • Student Population-122

Falls Church’s 14th-best school promotes its “integrative approach to health and wellness.” The 600-hour certificate program can be completed in six to seven months. 

A part-time option is available. In August, October, December, and March, new semesters start.

Swedish, sports, deep tissue, clinical, and chair massage techniques are taught to students. 

Other programs include reflexology, hydrotherapy, alternative therapies, Muscle Energy Techniques, and traditional Chinese medicine classes.

There are 17 hours of clinics and fieldwork in the program. Students interact with the public in many contexts. The school offers continuing education classes and helps with finding employment.

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15. American Massage & Bodywork Institute

  • Graduation Rate-N/A
  • Student Population-83

Washington, D.C., is about 20 minutes away from this Vienna school by public transportation. “99.53 percent student satisfaction,” it says.

An MT certificate can be obtained in as little as 28 weeks. The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation only recognizes two programs in Virginia. 

There are 700 hours in the curriculum. Each week, students spend 20 hours on campus and 5 hours online. At a clinic on-site, they also provide one-hour Swedish massages.

There are schedules for both daytime and evening classes. Qualified professionals teach all courses. Every six weeks, a brand-new program starts.

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How Long Are Massage Therapy Schools In Virginia?

Depending on whether a student enrolls full- or part-time, programs typically span 7 to 15 months. 

Students in a full-time program perform far better and succeed more, in my experience (about 13 years). 

You may have a lot on your plate in terms of your career, your family, and other responsibilities, but you will finish in half the time (half as long to make sacrifices). This is why AMBI has yet to have a part-time program available.

You will also need to take the MBLEx exam, which is given by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, or FSMTB, right after you graduate and before you apply for your license.

You can apply for your license once you have completed your education and passed the MBLEx. 

License applications are submitted to and approved by the Virginia Board of Nursing in that state. 

Each state has a licensing organization that operates according to a similar but distinct process. The majority of licenses require 30-45 days to be approved.

How Much Are Massage Therapy Schools In Virginia?

Although costs substantially vary by program, massage therapy school tuition is occasionally less expensive than a four-year college degree.

Costs will be higher for programs that offer more training hours and a more thorough curriculum. Most schools require students to complete 500 to 1,000 hours of massage therapy training to graduate.

As you weigh your educational options, arm yourself with sound advice on the best methods to finance your education.

There are several differences in massage therapy school tuition costs. Programs at community colleges might cost as little as $5,000 to $7,000. Others charge up to $20,000 for a one-year course of study.

How Much Do Massage Therapists Make In Virginia?

The national median is roughly $41,400, or $20 per hour, whereas the average practitioner in this region makes about $39,350 annually or $19 per hour.

The top 10% of earnings in the state make roughly $57,900 ($28), vs. about $78,300 ($37.60) nationally. 

For the bottom 10 percent, the wage is roughly $17,900 or $8.60 in Virginia; and around $21,400 or $10.25 nationally.

In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that this state had 4,070 licensed massage therapists. Labor Statistics Bureau. 

The government estimates the number will climb to 5,080 by 2026. That would equate to a job growth rate of 25%, which is similar to the expected national median of 26%.

Conclusion

Virginia massage therapy colleges provide much more than just the mechanics of massage. 

Additionally, they instruct students to dedicate their lives to the practice of massage therapy to help others. 

Medical massage, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, Shiatsu, myofascial release, and pregnancy massage are frequently taught techniques. 

Massage therapists move tissue with their hands to open up the body and improve the efficiency of the various body systems. 

Massage therapists typically focus on the client’s specific needs, target trouble spots, or promote general relaxation. 

Being a massage therapist in Virginia can be an essential professional step if you feel drawn to these concepts.

Consequently, if you want to work as a massage therapist in Virginia, you can begin by attending one of these schools.

FAQs

Do you need a massage license in Virginia?

You must have passed the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx), and the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards must send the BON your official exam results (FSMTB).

How long does it take to get a massage license in Virginia?

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, or a comparable organization in another state, must approve a massage therapy program for a minimum of 500 hours of training before applicants can be considered for a Virginia massage license.

What percentage do you need to pass the MBLEx in Virginia?

You need a score of 630 on the MBLEx exam to be regarded as having passed. You will receive diagnostic information outlining your performance in each content area and an overall numerical scaled score.

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