Online vs. In-Person CE

Choosing the Best Continuing Education Format for You

The pursuit of continuing education transcends beyond mere licensure requirements – it embodies the essence of personal and professional evolution. Before starting this educational journey, you must identify your career aspirations.

Are you looking to diversify your skill set, delve into niche therapies, or perhaps integrate holistic services like cupping? The field is evolving rapidly; for instance, the use of complementary health approaches in the U.S. grew by 6.6% from 2002 to 2017, per the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Aligning your educational pursuits with these evolving industry trends and your personal goals is crucial in choosing the most beneficial continuing education path.

Balancing Flexibility with Efficiency

Online courses have revolutionized the educational landscape, particularly in specialized fields like ours. The American Massage Therapy Association reports a significant increase in online learning platforms, offering courses ranging from pain management to advanced massage techniques.

However, the digital format’s challenge lies in effectively conveying the practical, hands-on skills that are the cornerstone of acupuncture and massage therapy.

While theoretical knowledge is a significant component, translating it into tactile skills via an online medium can be challenging. Therefore, evaluating the course structure for practical components, even online, is vital.

The Value of In-Person Learning 

In-person learning for massage therapy offers unmatched depth, providing essential hands-on training in these fields. This format allows for the direct practice of skills, immediate instructor feedback, and the chance to refine techniques in real-time, which is crucial for effective patient outcomes.

Additionally, in-person sessions offer significant networking opportunities, as highlighted by an Eventbrite survey where over 75% of respondents valued live events for networking and education. These experiences are not just about learning but about engaging in a dynamic, interactive environment that fosters professional growth and community building. Key benefits of in-person learning include:

  • Hands-on Experience: Direct engagement with techniques and real-time skill application.
  • Instant Feedback and Improvement: Opportunities for on-the-spot guidance and technique refinement.
  • Networking Opportunities: Building connections with peers and industry professionals.
  • Interactive Learning Environment: Participating in live demonstrations and discussions.
  • Confidence Building: Gaining confidence through practice and immediate feedback.

in person continuing education

Certification and Course Credibility

In selecting a continuing education course, certification is a non-negotiable factor. Certification courses adhere to industry standards and are recognized by licensing boards, ensuring the relevance and quality of your education.

For instance, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) sets rigorous standards for continuing education providers, ensuring that courses contribute meaningfully to professional development. Verifying that the courses offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) that align with state and national board requirements is essential.

Budget Considerations

When it comes to continuing education, quality often correlates with cost. While budget constraints are a reality, viewing education as an investment in your future is important.

A study by the American Massage Therapy Association indicated that therapists who invest in higher-quality education often see a return in the form of higher client satisfaction and retention rates.

Exploring financing options, such as scholarships or payment plans, can make quality education more accessible.

massage therapy ce courses

What’s Best For Your Needs?

When choosing between online and in-person learning formats, it’s important to consider several key factors:

  • Alignment with Learning Style: Whether your learning style is more visual, experiential, or interactive, choose the format that complements and enhances your educational experience.
  • Delivery of Practical Skills: For effective learning, especially in hands-on fields like massage therapy, you must ensure that online courses provide comprehensive practical training. If they don’t, opting for in-person classes that offer direct hands-on learning opportunities might be more beneficial.
  • Convenience vs. Interaction: There’s a trade-off between the convenience of online learning and the immersive, interactive experiences provided by in-person courses. You should weigh the ease and flexibility of online classes against the benefits of the rich, interactive environment found in in-person training.
  • Logistical Requirements: Reflect carefully on the logistical aspects, such as the time, travel, and financial commitments required for in-person courses. Compare these with the adaptability and often lower logistical demands of online learning options.
  • Professional and Personal Lifestyle: Your final decision should be based on a format supporting your professional growth and fitting well with your life circumstances. The right choice should seamlessly integrate into your current lifestyle and support your long-term career aspirations.

Making an Informed Choice for Your Career

As massage therapy grows and evolves, staying abreast of the latest techniques and practices through continuing education is paramount. By considering professional goals, course certification, practical application, and learning format, you can make an informed decision that enriches your practice and advances your career.

Remember, the right educational choice aligns with your aspirations and enhances your ability to provide exceptional patient care.

Explore our CE courses and take a decisive step in your career development today.

Kristy Serdinsky, Owner, and Director of Education at NC Massage School. With a background in teaching and administration in charter and private schools, Kristy’s dedication to helping others led her to open a massage spa in Cornelius in 2015. Now, she brings her expertise in education and the massage and bodywork industry to NC Massage School, blending her two passions to create a transformative learning experience.


We provide personalized training in the art and science of therapeutic massage, focusing on advanced-level professional careers, continuing education, and personal growth. Our philosophy is rooted in a holistic approach, which encourages our students to explore personal development of the mind, body, and spirit.


“What has impressed me the most is the instructor’s teaching style. While it is accepted that certain protocols must be followed, their hands-on approach is informative and encouraging.”

– Kaitlyn Boullosa

Our Location

NC Massage School
20525 North Main Street Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 896-2636

Get Directions!