The animal massage profession is in an extremely exciting period of growth and is emerging as a viable full-time career for many. However, a large pool of market data is not readily available due to the relative newness of the field. I will provide information that we have found from a variety of sources in a few main topics.
Animal massage generally mirrors human massage in price, with a range of $50-120 per hour, depending on the experience of the provider. Additional charges for specialized treatment ($10-30) or travel ($5-50 per trip) may increase the billable value of the session. However, while a human massage commonly lasts one hour, the duration of the massage session when working on an animal is largely determined by the animal's comfort and attention.
A full-time animal massage therapist may provide up to 25 massages per week. The actual amount of workload for an individual will be dependant on a number of factors.
Animal massage is increasingly accepted as a viable treatment modality in animal wellness. Entrepreneur Magazine (Dec. 2003) called "upscale pet services" one of the hottest business markets for 2004. "People love their pets, and it's showing," the article says. "In fact, their overwhelming displays of affection and concern have transformed the pet industry in an explosion of new offerings." Additionally, the massage industry as a whole continues to gain acceptance throughout the country. Currently, there are over 11,000 licensed massage practitioners (LMPs) in the state of Washington alone, and over 250,000 in the US. A natural progression of this successful market will include animal massage.
Additive nature of services
Many massage therapists will find that adding animal massage to their service offerings will enable them to offer more services to the same pool of existing clients. This increases overall potential revenue, without incurring substantial additional costs, such as advertising, etc. The cost of marketing additional services is much less than the cost of adding new clientele.
The human massage business incurs greater overhead costs than animal massage. Examples of human massage overhead include space rental, treatment tables, furniture, lighting, etc., while effective small animal massage is performed with the subject lying on a dog bed on any floor.
In Washington, animal massage therapists have a variety of employment prospects in either self-employment or as a provider for another business. Self-employed animal massage practitioners may choose to focus solely on animals or add to their existing practices. Businesses such as groomers, pet sitters, veterinary clinics, kennels, zoos and others are adding massage to their list of services provided. Many successful animal massage practices have been built by focusing on these markets.
Of course, while the profession as a whole is growing and career prospects look good for many, an individuals success in the field of animal massage will be dependant on a number of factors, including education, technique, and entrepreneurial instinct. For more information on animal massage education, contact Northwest School of Animal Massage at www.nwsam.com.