If you are a skilled massage therapist with a love for animals, then you can combine those two interests in the pursuit of a career that encompasses the best of both worlds. Animal massage is a growing niche in today's job market, and you can get in on the action if you are willing to take certain steps toward broadening your expertise. Here are five tips for expanding your massage practice to work with animals:
Background. As you might have guessed, massage therapy for animals is not the same as it is for adults. You will need specialized training to work your massage magic on animals. It is useful, but not necessary, to begin with a degree in animal medicine; at the very least, you should have some background working with animals. You may be able to get this background experience by serving an internship with a veterinarian, or by practicing on your own pets.
Education. There are also a number of animal massage educational programs that will prepare you for certification. Equissage is the most well-known program of its sort, providing opportunities for equine, canine, or mixed animal massage training and certification. The Northwest School of Animal Massage offers training programs focused on either small animals or large animals. The International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork offers training courses for a number of different specialties, from "wet dog" therapy training to energy work for aging/dying animals.
Inform your current clientele. If you are an established massage therapist, then you literally have an immediate clientele right at your fingertips. Chances are that a good number of your current clients are pet owners. If they believe in the value of your service, then they are likely to want to provide the same value to their beloved furry friends.
Choose a specialty. One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to choose an animal species to specialize in. You may opt to target your massage practice to horses (equine massage therapist), dogs (canine massage therapist), or small animals. Additionally, you may choose to cater your services to specific event preparation, such as horse races and dog shows. Once you choose a specialty, you can visit sites like petsupplies.com to get some of the equipment you'll need to make your visitors comfortable.
Reach out to local vets. Once you have ample training and experience under your belt, you can advertise your services to those who are most likely to have a great need for them - local veterinarians. Purchase some business cards and print up informative brochures and ask for permission to leave them at the reception desks of vet clinics in your area.
As you can see, there is a lot to preparing yourself for expansion into the field of animal massage therapy. This work can be very fulfilling for those who love massage and animals, so consider the great benefits of broadening your horizons when you weigh out these strategies for advancing your career.