During our Zoom career planning sessions, we are often asked about the job market our graduates can expect after graduation. Common questions we are asked include: what is the job market like, what are the potential earnings and so on. We can easily point to a couple of resources for students who like to do their own research: the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the AMTA Fact Data Sheet. Both of these publications offer a glimpse into career potential.

While in school, we discuss different pathways that graduates can take – from self-employed, to working in a clinic or a spa, to outcall based practices – or a hybrid career including multiple segments. In fact, we’ve revamped our business subject matter to allow students to do a deep-dive into the different pathways so that when they graduate, students are prepared to reach their long-term career goals.

Mentorship continues after graduation through our First Year Experience program. Career planning is a process that involves many facets. For me personally, I look at it from the lens of joy first. I encourage students to find the job that is going to offer them the highest potential for happiness.

During classes we explore the different employment settings and discuss the pro’s and cons of each to help students in career planning. One thing we consider is helping students understand the difference between independent contractor and an employee. We talk about ethical dilemmas they may encounter related to employment status.

I believe this gives our graduates a clear picture of what to expect when looking and interviewing for their dream job.

Non-Compete Act in Washington State

I recently talked to a student and was so proud of her for knowing how to handle a situation that wasn’t ethical. Let me explain.

In January of 2020, Washington State put into effect new laws regarding non-compete agreements essentially making them illegal expect in a few circumstances. The Non-Compete Act offers protection for lower-wage workers – namely those W2 employees earning under $100,000 a year, or Independent Contractors earning under $250,000 a year.

The law also prohibits restrictive moonlighting clauses – meaning that employers can no longer restrict employees for working within a region for a certain number of years.

Many massage therapists are pressured to sign non-competes with employers, thus seemingly limiting their ability to choose a new career pathway that suits them as they grow. I wonder why employers think this will bind employees to them. The way I see it is scarcity minded – fearful that the massage therapist will be successful without them. The truth is when an employer helps a massage therapist learn and grow that it creates a funnel of new therapists who want to work there and learn from their employer.

As I talked with my graduate, I learned that she had interviewed with a chiropractor who told her that the terms of employment included signing a non-compete, amongst other requirements.


I was so proud to hear that she recognized this as a red flag for employment and turned down the job. She heard lessons during our business classes that helped her make an informed decision. She is choosing instead to do an outcall based massage practice and in her first week of licensure had three clients scheduled. That’s what I call an action taker!

Career Planning
Shari Aldrich, LMT

Two weeks ago, I had lunch with a graduate from more than ten years ago and talked about his next big thing – a clinic where he would be hiring massage therapists offering them a pathway for career development. This vision is so inline with my thinking – set them up for success.

Mentorship and career planning continues long after graduation and I love getting to talk to graduates and help them find their joy.

How can I help you?