Using Your Massage Therapy Skills To Travel In Australia
Has one sentence ever changed your life?
One night, I stumbled across a single woman’s blog on conquering Australia.
She was easy to relate to, her fear and worries were so similar to mine. She calmed my inner fear as her blog resonated with me on a personal level. She was exactly right, “You’re either going to do it or you’re not”.
These little words strung together geared me up and I was moving to the land down under… Australia!
My problem, was I didn’t find any support when I googled BC RMT traveling to Australia.
I knew I wasn’t walking on the moon, someone from Canada had surely already done this. I just couldn’t find them, and I felt alone in my search.
There was too much fear of the unknown! The only option I had was to get as much information as I could to alleviate any negative thoughts about starting my adventure.
There was a place called Magnetic Island and Townsville, Queensland that a friend and I had been conversing about for years. I felt a connection to Magnetic Island even before I even arrived.
My friend and I talked about these places so often that I naturally wanted to see them with my own eyes.
This was my first major overseas experience alone. Thankfully, Australia is a lot like Canada and both countries have a lot of similarities which helped the cultural transition.
The best part, I could chase summer all year round. As I thought about the white sandy beaches and clear turquoise water I knew this was something I really wanted to do.
Prior To Departure
For two years after my board exams, I started taking control of my finances by paying off lingering debt, saving, and also organizing my accounts.
I stopped commission rates at the clinic, paid a set monthly rental and took on my own third party accounts. This gave me control over daily and monthly expenses, and by having a set rental cost I increased my treatment times without losing a percentage each hour.
I earned approximately $1500.00 more per month in doing this.
I had a vision for change and big goals in mind.
This motivated me to get out of town as fast as I could. With this vision, I sat down and put a plan into place to get all of my ducks in a row and make this happen.
These are some of the things I had to get figured out before I could go to Australia.
- My Passport.
- An Australian Working Holiday Visa.
- Research Massage Therapy regulations.
- Talk to the one person I knew & find a job.
- Where to land & start?
- Banking & Taxes.
Ensure your passport will be valid for the duration of your trip. Get it renewed before you leave if it is going to expire while you’re abroad.
Before entry into Australia you need to have an Australian working holiday Visa.
There are multiple types of Visas and finding the right one can be confusing. Here is a rundown of the different types:
- Working Visas should not be confused with a Working Holiday Visa. There are two types of Working Holiday Visas: 417 and 462.
- The Working Holiday Visa is based on your passport. Because I am a resident of Canada I applied for the Working Holiday Visa 417.
- Working Holiday Visa 462 is for passport holders in countries; Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, USA, Uruguay. Only USA passport holders can apply online for this this visa.
To be eligible for a Working Holiday Visa 417 you:
- Must be at least 18, but not yet 31 years of age.
- Do not have a dependent child accompanying you at any time during your stay in Australia.
- Have a passport from an eligible country.
- Your partner can accompany you to Australia, but they will need to apply for their own visa.
This Visa allows you to:
- Stay in Australia for up to 12 months.
- Work in Australia for up to six months with each employer.
- Study for up to four months.
- Leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid.
Approx. Fee : $420.00 AUD
Massage Therapy In Australia
This PDF file will provide you with the information you need to know about scope of practice, types of massage, education standards, continuing professional development and health fund provider recognition. It is an easy read, but lengthy.
Health Fund = A benefit plan or extended health plan
Health Fund Provider = A person that is reliable to provide treatment for reimbursement to health fund, this person has “provider status”
Remedial = Therapeutic style treatment
RTO = Registered Training Organization
RPL = Recognition of Prior Learning
There are three nationally recognized Massage Therapy qualifications.
- Competent to perform general health maintenance, can be associated with Spa Therapists.
- Competent to perform treatments involving specific remedial techniques to alleviate common musculoskeletal presentations such as low back pain.
Advanced Diploma Levels
- Competent to treat complex musculoskeletal presentations with a more extensive range of treatment protocols.
Both Diploma & Advance Diploma:
- Provided by Registered Training Organizations (RTOs)
- RTO’s regulated by the government.
- Qualifications sit within the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)
There are two Massage Therapy Associations, Australian Massage Therapy (AMT) and Australian Association Massage Therapy (AAMT). Both offer classified ads and advertisements for work on their site, so it can also be a good starting point in looking for jobs.
If you’re not sure what your training is like compared to the Massage Therapy training in Australia, there are two schools that I looked at, Evolve college and NSW School of Massage, they can give you an idea of what Australian tuition and schedules look like.
Tuition range from $7,000 to $11,000 AUS Dollars.
Duration of study is dependent on courses; average 20 weeks – 2 yrs.
Australian Provider Status and Liability Insurance For Massage Therapists
To gain provider status valid for a health fund Australians must have:
- Certification from RTO.
- 100 Continuing Education points per year, which roughly equates to around 20 hours or three days per annum.
- Membership to a professional organization/association such as ATM & AAMT.
Applying for provider status in Australia takes some organizing. This checklist will help you understand what is required, and you can download the word document here to print off if you need it:
? Have your qualification overviewed.
- This is called Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). A Registered Training Organization (RTO) does a review of this.
? Provide your transcripts to RTO
- Include units studied and hours to each unit.
The RTO will compare all the information against the Australian Qualification.
? Provide current resume and include:
? Work experience
? Letters of endorsement from clients & other professionals to enhance your opportunity.
? Hold Australian First Aid certificate and knowledge of Australia’s Occupational Health & Safety legislation.
- Remedial Diploma requires Senior/Level 2 First Aid.
- HLTFA301B/C – Use this code when searching for the appropriate course information.
- Check in with your first aid certificate to see if it is internationally recognized. You may have to get your certificate compared to the Australian standards.
- This is a one or two day course, approx. $110.00-$200.00 AUD.
- Make sure your First Aid Course is approved by your RTO and is appropriate for the state you chose to live in .
? Set up an interview with the RTO
- all the evidence you supply must be verifiable.
? Ultimately you will be awarded the current qualification
- HLT50307 Diploma in Remedial Massage.
There are costs involved and vary from College to College / RTO
There is a list of RTO’s on the AAMT website.
Whether you plan on getting a provider number for Australia or not, you’ll need Liability Insurance. Some companies may provide it, but most require you have it already. This company is commonly used for insurance coverage in Australia, www.aon.com.au.
Finding A Massage Therapy Job In Australia
Before I left Canada I knew one person in Australia.
Luckily my friend on Magnetic Island was neighbours with the owner of Massage on Magnetic. We emailed each other and I had confirmed a Massage Therapy job before I landed in Australia.
I stayed with Massage on Magnetic for five glorious weeks. I had 47 weeks left in Australia and I was on the search for a new job.
Two sites that were helpful in searching for job postings were seek.com.au and gumtree.com.au.
I had not written a resume in over 10 years. Preparing a couple of resumes before you leave will be helpful, preferably one resume for Massage and one for another skill set if available.
- Is your email appropriate and professional?
- Can you get a personalized email? ie: email@example.com
- Use and have an Australian phone number that works.
- Make electronic copies of your college transcript, RMT diploma, continuing education and first aid, these are excellent additions to your resume.
- Why should they pick you?
- What makes you unique and stand out?
- Get a few testimonials together.
- Prove your experience don’t just state it.
- Use a comparison profile. List what they require from you and specifically how you do that. This can be in addition to your resume and should change or be modified to suit each employer’s requirements.
Be persistent in applying for a job and do not get discouraged! If you are not responded to right away do not take it personally.
Businesses in Australia are bombarded by hundreds of emails responding to job postings. A lot of those emails are from struggling backpackers and travelers looking for part time work.
Working In A Spa vs A Clinical Setting.
Spas can be more accommodating if you do not have a provider number for Australia. I found numerous postings available for spa practitioners, especially in tourist areas.
If you desire a clinic setting, it will be valuable to gain provider status. Large cities and multidisciplinary clinics are looking health fund providers.
Either way, pick an area you would like to live and work in (search this area on seek.com.au and see what positions are available) and then create a resume at home that will appeal to an Australian Spa or Clinic Owner/Employer and email it to them.
From seek.com.au I found a rocking job out on the Great Barrier Reef as a Massage Therapist.
Massage Therapy On The Great Barrier Reef
While searching seek.com.au I came across a posting by Calm Experience. This was a massage therapy company that was owned by by Intuitive Massage located in Airlie Beach, Queensland.
In conjunction with Cruise Whitsundays, the local ferry system, Calm Experience is contracted to provide Massage treatments on Reefworld.
Reefworld is a permanently located pontoon that sits adjacent to the coral reef walls of Hardy Reef. This pontoon is accessible by Cruise Whitsundays for day and overnight tours. The pontoon itself is home to the Harmony Hut (where Massages are given), the dive centre, snorkelling equipment, underwater semi-submersible sub and underwater viewing chamber.
It was an excellent tour to see nature at its finest. You could spot turtles, humpback whales during migration, reef sharks, hundreds of fish, dolphins and of course Nemo.
Watching this video will help you to understand the Reefworld Tour.
I was persistent in applying for this position.
It took four emails before I received a reply. I called three times and I didn’t stop until we spoke on the phone. My persistence paid off as I landed this job during my first telephone conversation.
The whole team would arrive by 7:30am to prepare Seaflight; the guests would arrive on board at 8:00am sharp.
Seaflight is a 37m vessel ideally suited for outer reef cruising, each tour started with a short announcement of activities available at Reefworld. Announcing my Massage Therapy skills to a boat full of international strangers was the last thing I thought I would be doing in Australia, so I was a little nervous at first but eventually it was a stress free routine.
My accent seemed to work in my favour.
I was often the only Canadian and my ‘slow’ accent made it easier for people to hear. My approach was:
- Practice my script each morning on the walk to work
- Address the audience with a clear and precise message of the Massages I offered.
- Review, reflect and re-write as needed.
- Be the first on the microphone.
- Described my uniform, all black, I was easily found.
- Speak in an enthusiastic tone.
- Leave the audience with a call of action and urgency.
“Book your appointment now. I have a limited amount of time and I do not want you to miss out.”
Aside from this small presentation that took only minutes of my day my duties were to:
- Prepare seated chair massage with fresh towels & face pieces.
- Book appointments for my day, after my announcement.
- Provide seated chair massage on Seaflight, to & from Reefworld.
- Provide Table treatments at Reefworld, 4 hours available.
- Record daily sales with payment.
- Return used linens to main office once back at shore.
- Help provided memorable experience for guest.
- Work as a team member.
I was paid on commission which relied on my ability to connect with passengers and close a sale. Marketing myself on Seaflight pushed me out of my comfort zone so far I felt like I was going to fall overboard.
I came from a healthy practice where in house referrals fuelled my success.
This job spoke volumes on how much I relied on others for referrals, so this was my time to learn how to market myself and successfully gain clients.
My daily sales ranged from $200-470.00 AUD, minus commission. Averaging $800-1000/week. I made more money in Canada but I was travelling, not making my fortunes; I was just fortunate enough to be there.
I earned a good living, built community support around me, saved money and moved onward to travel the East Coast for nearly three months without working.
This was success for me.
Reflections Of My Massage Therapy Jobs In Australia
I honestly didn’t need a provider number for the two places I worked at.
I chose to live in tourism based places where having a provider number did not separate me from another, my resume and education stood for itself.
If you choose to not have a provider number, get your insurance and start applying to spas and vacation destination places. You might get paid a little less, but the scenery will most likely make up for it.
If you want a provider number for a health fund it shouldn’t be too difficult, especially now that you are informed.
This would be an excellent advantage if you chose to live in a larger city. If you were planning on staying for a long period of time in cities such as Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane you would have a greater chance of finding work with a provider number.
Be mindful when applying for jobs as a Massage Therapist in larger cities, be aware of job postings with bad verbiage, late working hours and low fees. This is not to scare you off, only to inform you.
I went to a job interview in Melbourne that never mentioned it was above a pawnshop (not that there is anything wrong with that, BUT… let’s just say they were surprised I had a resume) the girl working there got her techniques off YouTube and if I was honest, I’m pretty sure it was for prostitution.
I thought, what was I doing?
I knew it was wrong and I left.
I had a little cry with a great friend who helped me overcome the situation and it was onward and upward from there.
I eventually had a really beautiful time in Melbourne, not to mention all the lovely friends I met, but also I worked for a family that owned a small children’s toy shop called, Saraghi.
This was where my other resume came into play.
My child care and reception skills made me the perfect candidate to help people purchase gifts for baby showers and birthday presents, it was cute, fun and I drank a lot of coffee.
Just to touch back on the Massage Therapy side of my life, I resisted the idea of a working at a spa in the beginning, I was a clinic-based practitioner. My patients were recovering from motor vehicle accidents, work related injuries and serious limitation issues. I resisted the idea of a spa and in the end working at them helped me find more love for massage. I was uplifted because people were on holidays and they were happy. Their energy transferred on to me, so I was happy too. There you have it… all the information you need to start your journey as a Massage Therapist in Australia. I am going to say to you now…there are no excuses and “you’re either going to do it or you’re not”. All the best, I believe you can achieve your dream and I am here when you need me. If you would like more information and useful links, click here. Now that you have decided you are going, Yippee!