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How much do I tip my massage therapist?


I got a massage several weeks back. The price was $60. After the session when I was getting dressed, I heard the therapist sighing “I’m so exhausted” out the door. She’s talking to herself but loud enough for me to hear. BTW I’m a size 4 woman, not the big muscle type. The same therapist processed my credit card and asked me how much tip I would put, I did the math using 15% and said $10. And then she paused and had this weird smile. I said, “Should I pay more? I’m sorry but I do not get massage very often and do not know your ‘rules’ here.” And she said, “I gave you very good massage, I use my fingers all the time.” Then I said, “OK, then $20”. The tip thing is really confusing. I hope they put up a sign for tip suggestions instead of humuliating customers like this.

massage tips

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Andrea Sykes

, studied Massage Therapy at Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage (2018)

Answered 15w ago

Gratuity is never expected but greatly appreciated!

In my personal opinion, if you’re going to a massage business to receive a massage and not to the individual therapist at their own studio, tip $20 per hour otherwise tip at minimum $10 per hour if at all. If you go to an independent therapist at their own studio that charges $75-$110 per hour, a tip of $10 is fair.

A lot of massage businesses that have multiple therapists as employee’s or independent contractors have a 25/75 split: 25% to therapist and 75% to business. For example, Massage Envy starts most therapists at $15/hr, which is 25% at the 1st time massage and membership massage rate of $60/hr, which is what majority of their clients pay. From what I hear, the max pay is $18/hour, which is a 30/70 split. I personally think they should be paying the therapists at least $25/hr base pay, which is 25% of a regular $100 1 hour massage.

In my opinion, a lot of massage therapists are being under paid which is why a lot of therapists try to go into business for themselves, even if just on the side part time. Businesses should be paying 40% to the therapist and 60% to themselves.

Also I want to point out that full-time for a Massage Therapist is 25 hours a week due to it being that physically taxing on the body which is still a lot. I personally work a max of 20 hours a week, I want to last until I am 90+, if I even live that long. The therapists working 25+ are more likely to burn out quicker and hurt themselves, specially if they do not leave room for self-care. So if you break it down a therapist working for a company like Massage Envy earning $15/hr at 25 hours per week (full-time) with no tip is making $375, which is around $1275 per month after taxes. With a tip of $10 per hour massage on CC because most people don’t leave cash so the tip is taxed, they’re making $2125. Majority of people have a car payment, school debt, rent of $700 plus utilities even when living with other people and have to pay for food. That wage of $15/hr plus tip is really not a livable or fair wage for a Massage Therapist specifically. Also just for the record, the Front Desk Sales Associates make $12/hour base pay, only $3 less than the LMT’s! And the way the system is set up, they often make more in commission than the LMT’s.

Take into consideration how much training/schooling a Massage Therapist has to go through in order to help you resolve various situations with the human body. In addition, we need to be licensed by passing an exam, pay to renew our license every few years and are required to take continuing education classes every year. This varies in each state, for example it’s 12 hours a year in NY and 6 hours a year in Texas. Most states only require 500 hours, some 600, 700 and 800. Few states like NY and Florida require 1000 hours of education. So it makes sense for the wage to be different in different states but Massage Envy for example pays the same no matter what state they are in.

Massage Therapists also have to know various pathalogies so we know when and when not to massage you for your safety and ours. Reality is, you may have a pathology that is contagious that you may not be aware of and that a massage therapist may not see, we are putting ourselves at risk every day so other people can feel better in their own body thus increasing their quality of living. And we are putting a lot of stress on our bodies for you, for our world to be better place because if you’re happy after a massage you vibrate that energy out into the world after you leave the massage room and that beautiful energy affects others.

I truly believe massage is a necessity, not a luxury. Every insurance company should cover it, as well as yoga classes. If you value your own health, you will value massage because massage is self care and paying $90 with tip or no tip will be worth it. Saving $3 a day for a month (not buying chips at the gas station or a starbucks coffee or cigarettes) equals to $90 a person could spend on a massage for self-care.

There are also a lot of studies out there on how a person can benefit from a 1 hour massage once a month.

I know I went more in depth and off topic but as a massage therapist I really think there are parts of the industry that need to change. The 1st step to create change is to educate others who are not a Massage Therapist so they can be more aware. And I truly think some massage businesses out there really need to be shut down because though they are affordable to the public, they treat Massage Therapists like slaves with a low wage and overworking them with an unreasonable turn over time between massages all because they care more about profit than their own employee’s.

And full disclosure, I’ve never worked for Massage Envy as a Massage Therapist but I have as a Front Desk Sales Associate. I’m not trying to bash the company, I just really don’t support how they practice their business and wish all their therapists were paid better. They are also monopolizing the massage industry market and something needs to be done about it.


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Lori Dolby Hoffer

, Licensed Massage Therapist since 1997. NCTMB. Member AMTA. Private practice providing in-home massage for p...

Answered 176w ago

Originally Answered:

What are the rules on tipping a massage therapist?

There are no hard-and-fast rules for tipping a massage therapist. It can depend on the situation.

In some settings, there is a strict no-tipping policy and if a therapist is caught accepting a tip, they can be fired.  If you're told a situation is "no tipping," please respect that.  More and more places set a price that essentially includes that but it's nice to know exactly what you will pay when you go in.  I worked in a spa that had a strict policy on this and I can't tell you how often I had to give back cash to someone who "won't tell."  

In most spa settings, therapist work for commission and tips make up a good bit of the their income.  Sometimes they have to "tip out" to the other staff (desk, locker room attendants, etc.) just as servers may have to in a restaurant.

In "spa club" businesses, they are generally paid an hourly wage and much of their income comes from gratuities that are intended to be based on the "true price" of massage, not the discounted price  (like when you pay with a coupon as a restaurant.)

In a private practice, it can vary.  Generally, tips are appreciated but not expected.  This can hold especially true if the owner of the business is working on you.  

In my personal experience in private practice, about 75% of my clients choose to give a gratuity.  It is on average 20% of the price of their massage.  There are people who tip more, people who tip less, people who tip sometimes, and people who do not tip.  All of these people receive the same quality experience from me.  

In all businesses that accept gratuities, it's nice to tip in cash.  Credit card processors take fees for everything, and in some businesses that will deduct t those fees from the person the tip was intended for.

When in doubt, ask.  If it's "how much" you wonder about, 15-20% of the cost of service is pretty average.

I hope that's helpful!  Feel free to ask for clarifications or if you have a specific situation you wonder about.11.8k Views ·

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Libra Harrison

, Owner at Massage Therapy (2006-present)

Answered 27w ago

· Author has 193 answers and 251.7k answer views

15, 20 to 23% tends to be the most common industry standard here in California, for the most part. But there is no official set in stone amount that you have to give unless you go to a high end spa where a service fee is auto built in with the service. Those are typically 20% with 18% going to the therapist, 2% to the house. Generally for every hour of service, should be no less than $10–15 just as a guide. Can never really go wrong w/ at least $20 for any length of service and better $20 tip per hr of service, especially deep tissues and/or long services. This would be considered generous to fair to me as a therapist and a consumer. This is what I try and tip therapist when I receive a massage.


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Denni Barrett

, former Nuclear Plumber at United States Navy

Answered 47w ago

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Melody VanHoose

, Massage Therapist/ Owner at Massage Therapy (2005-present)

It depends. Did you get a happy ending? Just kidding. First thing a sailor thinks, I suppose.

In the Hero-gen, gig economy we live in now, you should tip between $20 to $40 for massages, $10 to $20 for hair/nail salon services, $5 to $10 for parking valets and $5 if you take a picture with someone dressed in costume when it is not Halloween. If you pass by a musician or artist on the street, tip at least $1 or all your lose change. The guy who comes up to the stop light and washes your car window - $2 to $5.

And always, always, give your loose change or $1 to the pan handler on the street at the stop light or parking lot entrance.