Massage certification program anticipates enrollment increase because of Idaho Launch

POST FALLS – Idaho Launch is usually discussed alongside trade and healthcare jobs, but tuition money also is available for the niche career of massage therapy.

Among the list of the state’s in-demand careers, between speech-language pathologists and insurance claims, trained massage therapists are quietly earning as much as plumbers and welders. And there are nearly a dozen schools across Idaho preparing young people for a career that boasts a high rate of satisfaction. 

Six months into her program, Ellie Clubb enjoys learning the complexities of the human body. At the end of her training day, she’s more mentally drained than physically. She thinks deeply about how to improve range of motion, increase circulation or relax injured muscles. 

Idaho Launch is a program initiated by Gov. Brad Little last year. It provides high school graduates up to $8,000 for training tied to in-demand careers. Massage therapy schools could see more high school graduates enrolling in the fall.

In North Idaho, the American Institute of Clinical Massage in Post Falls offers a one-year program. The average age of students is 25. Tuition for the certification program is $12,532 and there are 29 students enrolled.

Director Lydia Benson expects to see students enroll using Launch money. The $8,000 grant would cover 64% of the cost to attend, which includes 750 hours of curriculum, books, scrubs, testing fees and insurance. Therapists typically work 20-25 hours per week and earn between $35 to $75 per hour.

Successful therapists share four characteristics:

  • Ability to learn effective body mechanics.
  • Love helping people.
  • Desire to work in a stress-free environment.
  • Embrace a holistic view of the human body.

After earning a massage license, 62% of therapists land a job in less than one month, while another 22% report finding work by the one-month mark. And 99% of therapists believe their work has a positive impact on their clients.

Many of the students graduating from the American Institute in Post Falls want to start their own business but they can also choose a chiropractic setting, private practice or industries such as spa, fitness and healthcare.

The Coeur d’Alene Resort has a staff of 30 licensed therapists and looks to Benson for quality graduates. Chiropractic offices, physical therapy offices and rental suites for personal businesses ask Benson to market job opportunities to alumni.

“Last year we had a graduation rate of 100% and a licensure rate of 94%,” Benson said.

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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