A question that I often get is “should I tip my massage therapist?”. There are a couple of different thoughts on this within the massage community.

Some therapists, that do strictly treatment work, do not accept tips. Their reasoning is that they are part of the health care world, and would you tip your doctor or dentist? Even among them, there are some that do accept tips, as they recognize that it is the client’s way of showing appreciation, and they don’t want to offend the person by not taking the money. It really depends on where they work. For therapists that have their own office, it’s a personal matter. If they work for someone else, it might be against the rules to accept any form of tip.

For massage therapists that work in a spa setting, tips are very much appreciated. The percentage that they make off of each massage is generally half or less of the price of the service. Even then, the tip should not be required, but some of the newer chains of massage businesses automatically include a tip, so be sure to check and see if that is the case. If you weren’t happy with the service, then you shouldn’t have to tip.

Massage therapists that are self-employed can set their own prices, and should be setting them high enough so that they are able to make a decent living without having to rely on tips.

I’ve heard that business owners shouldn’t be tipped. I can only guess that it is because they get the full amount of the service charge, as opposed to an employee who only gets a percentage.

I think tipping is truly a matter of personal discretion, and no one should feel obligated to leave a tip, especially if they weren’t happy with the service. Now if your therapist did an excellent job of meeting your needs, and seeing to your comfort, then it would be appropriate to tip, business owner or not.

This is what I tell my clients, or anyone that asks about tipping for massage: I explain to them that while tips are always appreciated, they are never required or expected, and that they will receive the same level of excellent service and care whether they tip or not. And that another way to “tip” me is to refer their friends and family to me for a massage. I have some clients that have never tipped me, and others that always do. They all get treated the same.

As far as how much to tip, most people tend to tip like they do in restaurants, which is between 15 percent to 20 percent.

If you can’t afford to tip in addition to the massage, don’t worry. Most of us truly enjoy our work, and just seeing the look of utter peace and calm on our clients face is good enough, and that tells us our job was complete.