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Getting to the Point: How to Choose an Acupressure School

Alternative methods of care have been increasing in popularity in the Western world. Treating disease and illness with herbal supplements, practicing yoga for relaxation and fitness, and performing acupuncture to assist in pain management are somewhat common in today's health care environment. In addition to these methods of alternative medicine, acupressure has established itself as a beneficial medical practice.

What is acupressure?

Acupressure is one of more than 80 modalities that fall under the heading of massage therapy--the practice of using touch to manipulate the soft-tissue muscles of the body. The practice is an ancient therapy based on the theory that by using the hands to apply pressure to certain points on the body that correspond to internal functions, you can relieve pain and physical illnesses.

An acupressure practitioner may work in a variety of settings including a private physician's office, hospital, fitness center or sports medicine facility. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of massage therapists is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, this is faster than the average for all occupations. The 2010 median hourly salary for those in the field was $16.78, including gratuities.

Hitting the books at on-campus or online acupressure schools

The trade schools for acupressure offer a massage therapy certificate or Associate of Applied Science. On-campus or online acupressure school programs may often cover topics related to human anatomy, kinesiology and physiology. Many programs require clinical studies and coursework in marketing, ethics and business development.

Following graduation from an acupressure school, you may be required to obtain a license before practicing. This is dictated by the state where you plan to work. In order to be licensed, you may need to pass an examination. Two of the nationally recognized tests for licensure are the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB) and the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). Each state decides which test they will accept.

Choosing the trade schools to study acupressure

When you start investigating acupressure schools, there are several practices you may keep in mind:

  • Focus on programs that are accredited or approved by a national accreditation agency, such as the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA). The COMTA currently accredits 70 training programs.
  • Be sure to visit several acupressure schools prior to making a decision. Take a tour of the facility, ask to sit in on a class, talk to former and current students, and contact the state Better Business Bureau to ensure the school is in good standing.
  • Confirm that there will be an opportunity for you to receive specialized training in acupressure.
  • Ask if the acupressure school you are interested in offers job placement services for graduates and, if so, for how long following graduation. You may also want to inquire about the employment statistics of recent graduates.
  • Request a list of course offerings that includes the days and times they are available. You do not want to enroll in a program to find out that classes are only offered at inconvenient times.
  • Comparison shop. Is the acupressure school you are considering attending competitive in terms of cost and services? Does the stated tuition also cover the cost for supplies, parking and books?

Getting your first paycheck after acupressure school

If after graduating from an acupressure school you decide not to go into private practice, you may serve yourself well by researching potential employers. Consider how each possible opportunity coincides with your long-term goals and vision of acupressure. During an employment interview most companies may give you the opportunity to ask questions. Following are several you may consider discussing:

  • What are the demographics of the clients they serve?
  • How many massage therapists are employed with the company, and what is the turnover ratio? Are there any who specialize in acupressure?
  • How are therapists compensated--hourly, per treatment, daily?
  • In addition to massage, what else will you be required to do as part of your daily responsibilities?
  • Are health care benefits offered and, if so, how much will you be asked to contribute towards the premium?
  • Is there reimbursement for continuing education?

Once you have completed acupressure school and landed an employment opportunity, you are well on your way to achieving your career goals. But remember, you have to take care of yourself along the journey. In the fast-paced work world it is very easy to put your own needs aside to satisfy the needs and wants of your employer and clients. Be sure to schedule time for fun and enjoyment outside of work, eat well, and get plenty of sleep. The better you are feeling, both physically and emotionally, the better you will be able to serve your clients.