Best Massage Therapy Schools In Illinois | Cost, Requirement & How To Apply

There are many different massage therapy schools in Illinois that are great options for those looking to further their education by obtaining a massage therapist license. The Prairie State offers many schools equipped to meet the needs of different types of students.

The art and science of massage is usually taught in classroom lectures, studied in textbooks and applied in a student clinic setting. Students can enjoy studying at Illinois massage therapy schools in cities like Chicago or Peoria, or relocate to a quieter area in one of Illinois’ many small cities and towns.

Some massage schools in Illinois offer students opportunities to participate in community events such as health fairs, schools, colleges, nursing homes, women’s groups, cancer survivor groups, and media-sponsored events.

Students may choose additional coursework to earn a certificate in specialty massage, such as sports massage techniques. Massage therapist licensing in Illinois is regulated by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Are There Massage Therapy Schools In Illinois?

There are 28 massage therapy schools in Illinois, most of them at community colleges and technical institutes. Some are beauty schools with multiple programs, while others focus solely on massage and bodywork.

Educational programs consist of classroom classes, laboratory work and practical experience in student clinics or private massage rooms. The certification program typically takes six months to a year to complete. Some schools offer two-year associate degrees.

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How Much Do Massage Therapy Schools Cost In Illinois?

The cost of the program is $14,150. This includes uniforms, free massage treatments, lotions for lab and clinical training sessions, training, course handouts, professional liability insurance, initial Illinois massage license, career development and placement services.

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What Are The Requirements For Massage Therapy Schools In Illinois?

The state of Illinois has set a minimum massage training requirement of 600 hours. The training course must include the necessary content determined by the Board. Whatever program they choose, students must score at least 70% of the required courses – this is established by state law.

A student who chooses an Illinois massage therapy school will know that it meets the standards outlined in Section 68 of the state code. The teachers will be professionals with experience in their field or, in the case of courses such as anatomy and pathology, with a degree.

The massage therapy schools in Illinois will provide written manuals and curricula, as well as a course philosophy. Illinois sets a maximum instructor to student ratio, but some programs choose to be much lower!

One part of the content consists of coursework in body sciences (anatomy, physiology and kinesiology). The other includes theories, techniques and practice.

The third major content area covers many areas necessary for safe and professional practice, including universal precautions, body mechanics, massage contraindications, therapeutic relationships, and modesty/draping.

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What Are The Best Massage Therapy Schools In Illinois?

Illinois students can choose from a diverse array of programs. Many of them are located in community colleges. Others study in vocational schools. The main activity of the sponsoring institution may be health improvement or beauty and aesthetics; some massage schools are independent.

Students may consider programs that have been evaluated by national massage therapy organizations such as the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA).

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Visiting schools that are members of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) can be helpful. There are 25 AMTA-approved massage therapy schools in Illinois and they can provide basic information such as accreditation

1.     Waubonsee Community College

With campuses in Chicago’s western suburbs, WCC is highly rated for affordability. The School Massage Therapy Certificate Program is available at Sugar Grove.

Students can take up to 18 months to complete the 680 hours of study and training. There are full and partial, as well as daytime and evening options.

The curriculum covers various massage techniques, as well as Asian and energy bodywork, stress reduction techniques, hydrotherapy and heat therapy, aromatherapy and spa treatments.

There are two 30-hour on-site or off-campus clinic appointments. After each experience, students attend a 16-hour workshop.


2.     Elgin Community College

Located in the city of the same name, ECC was ranked among the top 150 schools by the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The massage program certificate for 38.5 points has a day and evening schedule. The curriculum is designed for three full-time semesters, but part-time options are available.

A prerequisite is the course “Introduction to therapeutic massage”. The program teaches Swedish, craniosacral, prenatal, infant and hot stone massage.

Students also learn manual lymphatic drainage, myofascial release and body scrub. They spend 16 hours of massage at public events.


3.     Illinois Central College

This large community college in Peoria offers an 874-hour, 37-credit program that takes 12 months of full-time and evening classes to complete.

In addition to the usual core courses, there are the following required courses: Medical Terminology, Introduction to Psychology, Occupational Issues for the Auto Body Worker, and Holistic Health Concepts.

The school encourages high school students to take college-level courses in First Aid, Anatomy and Physiology, Introduction to Health Care Careers, Introduction to Psychology, and Medical Terminology.

Students spend 60 hours at an on-campus clinic giving Swedish massages to the public. They also provide chair massage and sports massage for 30 hours at community events.


4.     College of Lake County

Grayslake Community College, CLC, offers a 712-hour, 33-credit massage therapy program with a student clinic at its Southlake Campus in Vernon Hills.

Students attend classes in the morning or evening, four or five days a week for two semesters. The program teaches Eastern and Western methods, as well as integrative, rehabilitative and advanced massage techniques.

Class sizes are limited to 20. All instructors are licensed health care professionals. Students often sit in a circle instead of desks.

The program is “focused on personal growth and transformation.” Future students are recommended to undergo at least one professional massage.


5.     Moraine Valley Community College

This school in Palos Hills offers a 12-month 24-hour massage therapy certificate program.

Students study Swedish, sports technique, chair, stone and pregnant massage; in addition to traditional Chinese medicine and energy anatomy.

The program emphasizes interpersonal communication. The last requirement is practice in real conditions.

Licensed massage therapists conduct all classes, the number of which is limited to 20 students. Ten “semi-private studios,” two of which have hydraulic massage tables, surround the lecture area.

There is a student polyclinic on the territory, which serves the population, as well as advanced training courses.


6.     Illinois Valley Community College

This school is located in the small town of Oglesby in western Illinois. Students receive massage therapy certificates after completing 928 hours of training.

They have full-time and part-time jobs. The school operates a student clinic, provides career assistance and offers continuing education. In fall 2019, IVCC began offering an advanced certificate in clinical massage therapy program.

The curriculum includes two required courses that cover “all aspects of health care across the lifespan; and engage in advanced assessment of pathology, orthopedic conditions, professional development, and specialized massage therapy techniques for both acute and chronic conditions.”


7.     Kishwaukee College

This community college’s rural campus is located just outside the tiny northern Illinois community of Malta. It primarily serves students from Dekalb, Lee and Ogle counties.

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The 664-hour, 31-credit massage certificate program takes full-time students 15 months (three semesters). There are also part-time jobs. Classes start in May and August. The Licensed Massage Therapy Seminar provides final curriculum credits.

Students provide massage and other therapeutic treatments to clients at the on-campus clinic. The school helps graduates find employment.


8.     John A Logan College

This southern Illinois community college is located in Carterville, part of the Carbondale-Marion metropolitan area.

The 768-hour, 31-credit massage certificate program lasts 12 months. In addition to typical core coursework, students study professional communication, tai chi, neuromuscular trigger therapy, and myofascial release.

Among the massage techniques studied in the curriculum are Swedish, sports and deep massage. Students get practical work experience in laboratories and public works.

The school accepts the first 20 applicants to the program who meet the admission criteria. Classes begin in the fall and spring. Entering students must take a general education class in human biology.


9.     Rend Lake College

RLC is a small community college in southern Illinois. The certified massage therapy program is located at the Marketplace Campus in Mount Vernon.

The 600-hour, 29-credit curriculum gives students “learning in the human body; clinical experience; business, professional and personal development”. The program, which includes a stay at the student clinic on campus, lasts one year.

Unlike most of these schools, RLC does not have an open enrollment policy. Applicants must pass a preliminary entrance exam that assesses their reading, verbal and math skills. They must also join a national massage therapist association.


10.  City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College

Located in the western part of the Windy City, it is the largest community college in the state and one of the largest in the country. Founded in 1911, it is Chicago’s oldest community college.

The Advanced Massage Therapy Certificate Program takes four semesters and a minimum of 46 credit hours.

The curriculum “focuses on student development in therapist-client communication, ethical massage practice, professionalism, business skills, self-care practices, and cultural competency.”

There are compulsory classes in reading, English and mathematics. After a course in functional anatomy and kinesiology, the rest of the program is devoted to the theory and practice of massage.


11.  Parkland College

This community college offers an associate of applied science program in massage therapy at its main campus in Champaign.

Students can complete the two-year, 60-hour study program full-time or part-time—daytime, evening, and weekend.

Required general education courses: Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, Interpersonal Communication, Composition I, Introduction to Psychology, and Human Growth and Development.

Reading or English classes may also be required based on testing. Students receive 30 hours of clinical experience and participate in two practicums. They also do 15 hours of “community outreach” by giving massages at public events.


12.  Lake Land College

Located in the small town of Mattoon, LLC, the community college serves primarily students from the east-central Illinois region.

Massage therapy students attend classes two to three days a week at the Kluthe Center in Effingham, which has an on-site clinic.

The 40-hour certificate program takes four semesters and 18 months. It includes two clinical experiences and a 30-hour practicum.

Every fall, 16 students are enrolled in the program. Students are “encouraged” to take college-level reading, math, and English classes before beginning the regular curriculum. Core courses include small business management.


How Much Do Massage Therapists In Illinois Earn?

Illinois boasts the fifth highest employment rate for massage therapists in the United States. The Chicago-Joliet-Napierville metropolitan area has the third highest number of employed massage therapists in urban areas in the nation.

Licensed massage therapists in Illinois earn an average annual salary of $47,270. Massage therapists in Illinois can choose to work in private practice or in healthcare facilities such as nursing homes.

In these conditions, clients often prefer physical rehabilitation that goes beyond traditional regimens.

Massage therapists also work in vacation destinations such as cruise ships, resorts, and luxury hotels, as well as in spas and businesses dedicated exclusively to massage. Some licensed massage therapists provide on-call services at clients’ homes or corporations.

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How Do I Become A Massage Therapist In Illinois?

To become a massage therapist in Illinois, students must first graduate from high school or obtain a GED. They must then successfully graduate from an accredited post-secondary school in a state-approved program.

A minimum grade of 70 percent in all coursework is required. The next step is to contact the NCBTMB to apply online for the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx).

This involves paying a commission of about $200. The test, which students take on computers, consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. It is available at Pearson VUE testing centers in Chicago, Springfield, Peoria, Oak Brook, Schaumburg, Granite City, and Marion.

Pearson VUE reports exam results to the state board, which decides whether a prospective massage therapist is eligible for licensure.

Practitioners must renew their licenses every two years. This involves 24 hours of continuing education, which includes two hours of ethics.

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Best Paying Massage Therapy Jobs In Illinois

Companies are looking to hire professional, courteous massage therapist to provide guests with a wide range of massage services in Illinois.

The massage therapist will consult with guests to screen them for underlying ailments and assist in selecting appropriate services. You will perform the massage in such a way as to prevent injuries to the wrists and other parts of the body.

PREMISE HEALTH -Massage Therapist

Northwestern Medicine – Massage Therapist

Marriott International, Inc – Massage Therapist

Kohler Waters Spa – Massage Therapist

Swedish Hospital, Part of NorthShore – Massage Therapist – weeknights (part-time)

VNA Health Care – Massage Therapist- Part-time

Springfield Clinic -Licensed Massage Therapist – Chiropractic (24 hrs/wk)

Midtown Athletic Club – Massage Therapist

Chicago – Equinox Fitness Clubs – Licensed Massage Therapist

Massage Therapy Schools In Illinois FAQs

What Is The Requirement For Licensed Massage Therapist In Illinois?

To become licensed as a massage therapist in Illinois, you will first need to complete a training program that includes at least 600 hours of instruction at a school approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

How Long Does Massage Therapist License Last In Illinois?

Once you are licensed, it will be important to renew your license in a timely manner to avoid your legal status being compromised. The renewal process in Illinois for massage therapists occurs every two years. The current renewal fee is $175. You will also be required to complete 24 hours of refresher courses between renewals.

Are Massage Therapists In Demand In Illinois?

Illinois boasts the fifth highest employment rate for massage therapists in the United States. The Chicago-Joliet-Napierville metropolitan area has the third highest number of employed massage therapists in urban areas in the nation. Licensed massage therapists in Illinois earn an average annual salary of $47,270.

Do You Need Licensed To Work As A Massage Therapist In Illinois?

Massage therapists in Illinois must obtain a license to practice. A license is issued by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations to individuals who have passed the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) and have completed all other requirements, including a background check.

Where Do Massage Therapists Work In Illinois?

Massage therapists can find work in many different workplaces. Examples include fitness centers, spas, hotels, franchised clinics, and doctors’ offices. Quite often, self-employed massage therapists work out of the home and/or travel to clients’ homes or offices. If you are self-employed, you will need to provide your own items (eg body lotions and oils, massage table and/or chair, pillows and sheets). Some massage therapists who work for other people have to provide some of their own tools.


For those looking to further their education to become a licensed massage therapist, massage therapy schools in Illinois offer a wide variety of options. Students can study in urban areas such as Chicago or in smaller cities and towns throughout the state.

Massage therapy requires both academic and technical knowledge, clinical skills, sensitivity and good manual skills. Massage therapy students must have a strong desire to help others, as well as the determination and dedication to developing the skills to become a licensed massage therapist. Using methods such as massage therapy allows the body to use its own resources to heal injuries and stress.



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