Before they can start undoing the daily stresses of life with their fingertips, registered massage therapists undergo a lot of training.

“You can’t actually practise massage therapy unless you’re a registered massage therapist,” says Kailee Kline, founder and president of Healthwinds — the Health and Wellness Spa in Toronto.

That means completing a two- or three-year accredited program and passing the written, then the practice exam of the province’s governing college.

This wasn’t always the case.

“When I started 28 years ago, massage therapy was very grassroots and not that well-known to the public,” says Kline. “But as the profession began to grow and we opted to become a regulated profession under the Health Act, it meant we had to professionalize our profession.”

Today, massage therapy is regulated in Ontario, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The regulations from province to province are quite similar,” says Doug McRae, registrar at the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia.

Each college provides a list of government-accredited schools within its province. Beyond that, Kline suggests potential students do research on the schools themselves: “I would look at all the different colleges because, beyond location, every school has its specialty.”

And then there’s word of mouth. “I talked to therapists in my home town of Peterborough,” says recent Fleming College graduate Christine Logan. “Then I contacted the school itself and went to the open house in order to talk to the instructors and other students, picked their brains a bit.”