I hear many people asking if and how they should tip their massage therapist.
The answer is: it depends. I, personally, say yes you should only because I work for a franchise that does not compensate their therapist well enough to totally forgo tipping. If this were not the case then I would say, if you want to but it’s not necessary.
I realize there are assumptions about what a therapist makes and about tipping in general. For instance, the assumption that therapist keeps 50-100% of what is being charged. This can be true; if they work for non-corporate places and/ or are self-employed. But in most cases they’re working for a franchise that takes a huge cut and pays the therapist maybe 17-20% which is about $14-19 per massage.
This may seem like a good wage but massage therapy is different than waiting tables or working retail. Therapist can only work on a limited amount of clients per day and each hour session (or longer) equates to 2-3 hours work. It is physically challenging, mentally demanding and spiritually exhausting. There is high risk of burn out and injuries. Typically therapist are only compensated for the massages they do but not for their whole time. When you take what a therapist gets for their sessions compared to total time invested, they’re lucky if they make $10 per hour. In other occupations, to earn more money you work more hours and you can earn overtime but not with massage.
Other variables can affect income as well such as location and demand/supply for massage. A therapist may not have the means to start their own business or massage may not be in high demand in their area. Because of this therapist typically end up needing to work multiple jobs or at multiple locations to make ends meet.
Personally I tip $20 for an hour massage and $30 for an hour and a half. Some may argue this is a lot and they don’t even make that much in per hour. I understand but neither do I and that’s the point. Again this is what I do, I understand most people coming to a franchise to get massages do so because the price is cheaper and therefore probably can only afford maybe $5 or $10 extra for a tip.
Huffington Post Article about Tipping
This should not dissuade you from getting a massage, though. I would rather you not tip and be able to get a massage than not at all. That is because, while I do live off tips and greatly appreciate those who tip and tip well, I care about the well being of a person and decreasing the pain in their lives more than I do getting a tip.
Again, whether or not you should tip your therapist depends. Depends on you; what your budget is and how often you get massages etc. Depends on the therapist; do they get paid appropriately, do they accepts tips, how good was the session etc.
Below are a couple additional links on tipping therapists: