Are you currently in an entry level massage therapy job and want to take your career to the next level? Or are you an experienced licensed massage therapist wanting to break into the burgeoning health care industry and practice in a medical setting such as a hospital, nursing home or sports medicine facility? Or do you have a love of animals and want to practice in the growing field of canine massage? Or do you need to fulfill an education requirement? If so, then Continuing Education is what you need.There are several Continuing Education options from which to choose and these courses are specifically designed for massage therapists to keep you current with trends, satisfy your curiosity, and engage you in new areas of exploration such as prenatal, canine, sports, Eastern massage or medical massage therapy. In fact, 80 different types of massage types, or modalities, exist according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Taking Continuing Education classes will not only benefit you as a person, but also it will benefit your practice. By learning new modalities you can specialize in specific populations and increase your clientele. This provides the opportunity to increase your hourly rate depending on the type of massage you are performing. Also, the more knowledge, comprehension and application of massage techniques you have, the more you will be able to define your clients’ needs and support them with massage therapy. This allows you to make a more specific pre-massage assessment which directly benefits the client and increases the possibility of him/her becoming a repeat client.There are three main reasons for taking Continuing Education courses: 1) to obtain an advanced massage therapy degree such as an Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) degree; 2) to obtain an Advanced Certification in massage therapy; and 3) to obtain Continuing Education (CE) credits in order to renew your state license or professional membership.Let’s look in more detail at each one of these reasons for taking Continuing Education classes:1) To obtain an advanced massage therapy degree, such as an Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) degreeAn advanced degree, such as an AOS degree, is geared toward students who want to explore advanced concepts in human anatomy and physiology, including neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, medical massage, and other topics not covered in a basic training Massage Therapy Certificate Program. An advanced degree is the way to go if you want to practice massage therapy in a medical setting such as a hospital or rehabilitative massage clinic. Here are some examples of courses required in order to obtain an AOS degree: Medical Massage – In this course, the study of advanced pathophysiology and critical thinking skills is combined with specific practical hands-on techniques. Students learn treatment methods specifically geared toward clients with spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and post-surgical conditions.Trauma and the Body – This course introduces the major concepts of post traumatic stress, and outlines the benefits of massage therapy to survivors of trauma. Students learn techniques that can help restore a sense of balance in the nervous system as well as foster reconnection for survivors who often experience intense physical reactions, memories, and a sense of disconnectedness from their body.Craniosacral Therapy – Students will learn the fundamental skills that serve as the foundation of craniosacral therapy, including an introduction to the core anatomical and physiological relationships of the Craniosacral system: the fluctuation of cerebrospinal fluid, body articulations, reciprocal tension membranes, dural tube and spinal cord dynamics, and the motillity of the central nervous system.2) To obtain an Advanced Certification in massage therapyAdvanced Certificate Programs are designed for students who have completed basic training as a massage therapist. Students take advanced coursework in deep tissue massage, energy work such as Reiki and Chi Kung, Eastern styles such as shiatsu and Thai massage, and spa body treatments. This postgraduate training allows students to choose a focused track of specialization, mastering techniques which are immediately applicable and beneficial to their clients such as spa elements, prenatal, labor and postpartum, canine massage, orthopedic and sports massage, and energy healing. Continuing education hours are earned for each module taken.3) CE credits required to renew your state license or professional membership such as the American Massage Therapy Association (amtamassage.org)The majority of states require that you have a license to practice massage therapy and renewal of the license requires that you obtain massage continuing education. Even if you practice massage therapy in a state that does not require Continuing Education, it is important to continually be challenging yourself, learning more about your profession and, ultimately, becoming more successful in healing others through the power of touch.How to Find Continuing Education Courses in Your Area· Determine the Continuing Education requirements in your state by contacting the state licensing authority. If you don’t know the website URL to go to, a search for the name of your state and “massage therapy continuing education” should point you to the right place. The state licensing board may list approved providers on their website. If not, you can search online for approved providers.· Determine the Continuing Education requirements by your professional association. The association should list approved providers on their website. If not, you can search online for approved providers.· After completing the course, be sure to keep your completion certificate on file, even if your state licensing board or professional association doesn’t require that you submit proof of taking the course. If the state licensing board or association is audited, you may be asked to provide proof of completion.Whether you choose to take Continuing Education classes to move to the next stage in your career or just for the credits, the purpose of Continuing Education remains the same. Continuing Education ensures that massage therapists keep current on new developments in the field and continue improving their skills in order to help others.