Therapeutic massage offered as degree program

Aug. 29, 2013 @ 04:55 PM

South Piedmont Community College is offering therapeutic massage as a degree program, in addition to its diploma.

Classes will begin Sept. 13 and registration is open until Sept. 11. This fall it will be a 12-week course. In the spring and in future semesters it will be a 16-week course. 

“We have a diploma and you can come back for the degree,” Alycia Parsons, program director for therapeutic massage at SPCC, said. 

She said with the diploma, graduates can sit for their national certification exam. Professionals must be certified every two years. The new program will also allow for continuing education for masseuses looking to re-certify. 

The diploma program typically takes about nine months to complete, while the associate’s degree in therapeutic massage takes two years. 

The second year of the two-year program will offer students a deeper knowledge of massage, “above and beyond, where you can’t do that with a certificate program,” Parsons said. 

Massage is a growing industry, Parsons said.

“Massage is an area...you make it for what you want,” she said. She said it can be a part-time or full-time job. Masseuses can work in hospitals, spas, for sport teams, own their own practices or other avenues that might interest someone.

She said one former student is working for cruise lines. 

Glenda Toye, 28, graduated with her diploma in July. She passed her licensing exam and is waiting to receive her license before applying for jobs. However, the program helped her prepare for job applications, by bringing massage parlors and conducting mock job interviews, she said. 

Toye was not sure which area of healthcare she wanted to enter.

“I wanted to enter into the healthcare field,” she said. “I’d recently been taking some classes, trying to figure out if I wanted to go into nursing or into physical therapy assistance.”

She said her older brother is a massage therapist and after talking to him, she decided to pursue that.

Going back and getting an associate’s degree is something she is considering, she said. Before enrolling at SPCC, she took classes at Central Piedmont Community College and completed most of her prerequisites there.

She plans to go back to school in January and has thought about transferring her credits to SPCC and receiving her associate’s degree there, she said.

“I really enjoyed that school,” Toye said. “It’s a smaller school and it’s very personal there...that is something that I’m looking into.”

For Toye, the most rewarding part about therapeutic massage is helping people.

“The thing I enjoy the most is the ability to help others and to make someone feel better,” she said. “In massage therapy, people come to you just in need of relaxation, they come to you with muscle problems, tension problems, injuries...and it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to take the knowledge and skills that I’ve learned and apply them to be able to improve someone’s life.” 

South Piedmont Community College has not completely built the new associate’s program yet, so certain classes and types of massage have not been confirmed, Parsons said.

“When (students) graduate, they will have a huge range of modality,” Parsons said.

Modalities are different techniques or types of massage. 

They are still accepting students and Parsons said they are looking forward to starting the new program.