Hot job: Massage therapist

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- If you are looking to find and prosper on a job, it's essential to provide a service people want.

Massage therapy is a field many people thought had limited opportunities in a hotel or resort, but it turns out you can start your own business, travel the world, or even start working in health care with training as a massage therapist.

“I like the fact that I help people feel better right away,“ massage therapist Dorion Simmons told 3TV as he worked on a patient at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Goodyear. “Anything you can think of in the human body can be helped with massage. “

Simmons says a key part of finding and prospering on the job is finding a job that is in demand.

"The demand is great and it's ever-growing," Simmons said of massage therapy.

That is why the Maricopa Skill Center is adding its first-ever massage therapy course this fall.

“All of the employers on our advisory board, which are some of the largest employers of massage therapists in the nation, tell us they can't hire enough people,” said massage therapist consultant Mike Tapscott.

He says the course is focused on getting people to work fast.

"It takes eight months to go through the entire program and to be licensed and to get out there in the workforce,“ Tapscott said.

The idea, he says, is to teach students essential skills.

“We hammer three points very well," Tapscott said. "One is deep-tissue massage, which is kind of no-nonsense massage; two is that we want to make sure you have your anatomy, and so we spend about 60 percent more time than most schools on just anatomy; and the final thing that a lot of people don't think about is people skills."

He said the class can teach aspiring massage therapists those three things as long as they come ready to learn.

“This is going to sound a like a simple thing, but the No. 1 thing they need to bring is attendance. This is true in the class and it's true at work,“ he said.

Tapscott says the choice of careers is wide open for massage therapists, from opening their own business to working at a resort or, like Simmons, working in the medical field.

“I am seeing spas inside of hospitals right here in town. We have never seen that before," he said. "Massage therapists are now part of clinical rehab teams, where they work with a physical therapist and they work with a doctor, and they have a whole game plan on how to get somebody well again.”

Simmons says the payoff is definitely worth it.

”If you look at the research and you look at the science behind massage therapy, it is very, very needed, and it is becoming more and more recognized as we speak," he said. “In half an hour to an hour's time, I can make a difference in someone's life, and that is very rewarding."