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Looking to set up your own massage therapy business? It can be a big leap deciding to start out on your own and you’ll need to shift your mindset to ensure you’re thinking like a business owner, and not just an excellent therapist. Running your own business can be hugely rewarding but involves a lot of hard work and responsibility to ensure that you’re successful. Follow our tips below to help you get started on your journey.

  1. Get Qualified

First and foremost, the most important thing is to qualify as a massage therapist. In the U.K. there are a number of different routes you can take to qualify.

The first route to consider is VTCT. This is a government-accredited body that offers National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). With VTCT you can complete your training in as little as 3 weeks. They also offer special courses in specific massage techniques such as Sports Massage Therapy. By undertaking these qualifications you can also obtain your professional indemnity insurance. This is a statutory requirement if you are looking to become a self-employed therapist.

Alternatively, another route is via CIBTAC, which leads to a QCF Qualification. A benefit of this is that you can receive credits to put towards further study. If you choose to undertake your training with CIBTAC then you’ll be awarded with qualifications and diplomas in massage therapy rather than an NVQ.

The final route to consider is qualifying with ITEC, which also offers the opportunity to gain International qualifications across 35 countries. With ITEC your qualification will be split into a Level 2 and Level 3 massage course, which are divided into Complementary and Sports massages.

In the UK, the CNHC is the regulatory body for self-regulation for massage therapists and related therapies. They are supported by the Department of Health and work to protect the public by ensuring practitioners are registered, as well as setting standards and handling complaints.

As with most of these qualifications, these are only seen as a basic introduction into massage therapy and if you are interested in specialising in particular types of massage such as sports or rheiki then you’ll need to undertake additional training.

  1. Register your trading name and license

Whilst undertaking your qualification you’ll want to consider the name you will trade under. A name can have a huge impact on a business so you’ll want to think about this carefully as once you’ve chosen and registered, it can be a difficult thing to change, especially if you choose to have a website and business cards. Once you’ve decided on a name you’ll want to register this by visiting www.gov.uk.

You’ll also need to register for a massage and special treatment premises license if you intend to be operating from an office space. You can do this by contacting your local council. Be aware though, they may want to inspect your premises before providing your license.

  1. Do your research

Research is crucial for finding the perfect location, targeting the right clients for you and making a profit.

See what the competition looks like in your area. You may discover that there is a niche area of massage practice that is not provided for. You may even want to send out surveys online or by phone to find out exactly what people in your area are looking for and what they would be willing to pay. You’ll also want to consider the demographic of your location to work out your target prices and will need to consider your overheads and how many clients you’ll need to make a profit each month.

  1. Find your niche

To differentiate yourself from your competition you may want to consider specialising in a niche type of massage such as sports or oncology. Generally speaking, you’ll be able to charge more for these specialist types of massage as further study and qualifications are needed to practice these. You may want to offer a range of therapies and understand where demand is greatest.

  1. Office space

You’ll need to consider whether you intend to have a permanent working space or if you wish to be fully mobile, working at your client’s house or office, or a combination of the two.

You might consider renting an office from another health care provider or in an office or house. It’s important to find somewhere that is affordable and within your budget as ideally you want to keep your overheads low. You’ll want to consider aspects such as having easy parking and being in a quiet and attractive location to ensure the overall experience for your client is one that is relaxing. Positioning yourself in a popular location such as near shops is also a good idea as this can attract new customers by people just walking past. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your landlord to get a good price!

Equally, you may decide that you intend to be fully mobile, and that you wish to travel to your client’s house or work, rather than having a permanent office space. This can be a good way to keep your overheads down. For more information you can check out our guide to purchasing portable massage tables.


External Links

Vocational Training Charitable Trust (VTCT)

VTCT is a Government-approved awarding organisation which has awarded world class qualifications since 1962 and has been at the forefront of developing the vocational system of qualifications in the United Kingdom ever since.

Confederation of International Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology (CIBTAC)

The Confederation of International Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology was established in 1977 as the education arm of BABTAC (British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology). CIBTAC is a not-for-profit organisation.

Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC)

CNHC was set up with government support to protect the public by providing a UK voluntary register of complementary therapists. CNHC’s register has been approved as an Accredited Register by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care.

International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC)

ITEC is a leading international specialist examination board, providing quality qualifications in Beauty & Spa Therapy, Hairdressing, Complementary Therapies, Sports & Fitness Training and Customer Service.


Stay tuned for Part 2 where we cover the next steps: including perfecting customer experience, marketing and networking.

Melissa is Senior Contributing Editor at Body Massage Shop.