Should You Tip a Massage Therapist

Whether it’s restaurants, movers, Uber drivers, or even the mailman, it’s hard to know who to tip these days. If you’re really unsure about tipping your massage therapist, let us shed some light on today’s massage industry.

Are Massage Therapists Paid Well?

The average massage therapist hourly wage fluctuates a bit over the years, but it remains just under $20.00/hour. This hourly average includes wages from the lowest paid massage therapists (massage franchises/chains) and the highest paid (private practices), which can be from $13.00/hour to $100.00/hour respectively. We’ll be using these widely varying salaries to discuss some tips about tipping in the massage industry.

Tipping at Franchises or Chains

The most common location for tipping is at a restaurant after you’ve finished your dining experience, which can be very relatable to the massage industry. Restaurant chains usually rely on moving as many people and product as possible, which means high turnover for the servers. High turnover for servers means they can be paid way below minimum wage, but usually recuperate their legally required hourly rate through the sheer amount of tips. Sort of an ethical gray area, but it’s the way it is.

So let’s say you decide to get a 60 minute massage session at a franchise or chain where your therapist just made about $15.00 in gross wages for that service. The average cost for a 1 hour massage is about $60.00, so your therapist made 25% of the total cost of your service. In this case for them to make the industry average of about $20.00, a $60.00 service would require at least an 8% tip.

Of course, you’re never required to tip, but these numbers (along with the quality of the massage service) are things to keep in mind if you decide to tip. Let’s take a look at a different situation.

Smaller or Specialty Massage Clinics

If you go to a smaller studio that focuses on specific types of massage and technique that other places don’t offer, you can assume the massage therapists get paid considerably more. For example, our studio offers things like TMJ massage, prenatal massage, cold stone massage, and craniosacral.

We pay our therapists an average hourly wage of $28/hour and a 1 hour service costs $75.00. This means our therapists make more than 1/3 of the massage session cost. So if your massage therapist is already paid more than the massage industry average, should you tip?

New Clients are Nervous About Tipping

Going back to the restaurant analogy, some high-end restaurants will flat out tell you not to tip their servers because they’re paid a good wage. They say this because they guarantee a good dining experience and don’t want you to worry about tipping. At the massage studio, new clients usually ask us, “Should I tip?” or, “How much do you usually tip for a massage?”.

We charge the amount we do for our services so we can ensure our therapists are paid a good wage and guarantee a good massage experience. We don’t want clients worrying or even stressing out about tipping.

What About Private Practices?

Some massage therapists decide to just rent a small spot to practice massage therapy. They might even do it from their home or drive out to yours! The thing about private practices is that they normally charge just enough to cover their expenses and make a living. This means a 1 hour service can be up to $100 since there’s very little client turnover compared to the expenses.

Tipping in this case is a little more rare, but your best bet is to just talk to them about it at this point. Chances are that the cost of that massage service is plenty sufficient for the practitioner.

Here’s How You Tip Your Therapist

A good way to think about tipping your therapist is to think about their hourly wage and the quality of the service. If you think your massage therapist deserved to make a few more dollars for your service and you have some cash, go ahead and make their day! Listen to your gut, listen to your wallet, and don’t worry about the tip. Just enjoy your massage!