Masseuses vs. Massage Therapists

Posted by MassageTools Staff on Nov 15th 2016

People use the terms massage therapist and masseuse interchangeably, but are they using both terms right? The reality is most people do not know what each term means, but still use them. That leads us to the question: What exactly is the difference between a massage therapist and a masseuse?

The answer is actually pretty simple. A masseuse is a woman while a massage therapist can be a man or a woman. The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the same Standard Operational Code for both designations and the terms are used throughout the industry.

The term "masseuse" originated in France in the late 1800s while male counterpart is "masseur". If you were French, then masseuse or masseur would be the correct term to use, but those have gone out of fashion in recent years.

Why the Change?

Most practitioners prefer the term massage therapist over gender specific connotations. Since the job requires the massage therapist to be in close physical contact with the person they are massaging, practitioners like to use the term since it sounds more professional takes away some of the more sexual meanings that have affected the industry.

Massage therapist makes the position sound more like a doctor and takes away the unsavory practices that some undertake and mar the industry. The term massage therapist shows that the person giving the massage is performing a service that provides a medical benefit, a type of physical therapy, and shows the hard work and determination people need to get that type of job.

How to Become a Massage Therapist

Massage therapists and masseuses go through the same rigorous training. To enter the profession, prospects must get post-secondary training that can last 500 hours or more. Most states regulate the practice and have varying degrees of licensing and certification, since the people performing massages are directly treating other people.