(Frequently Asked Questions - click heading to expand / close)

What is the difference between BTEC and ITEC or VTCT?

BTEC is the largest Government-approved awarding body for vocational education and training in the UK, covering over 1 million students a year at schools, colleges and Universities. The BTEC Level 5 Professional Diploma in Soft Tissue Therapy is the only one of its kind in the UK.

ITEC is a specialist examination board, providing qualifications in Beauty & Spa Therapy, Hairdressing, Complementary Therapies, Sports massage. Their Level 3 qualifications are recognized in many countries by employers in the Beauty and Spa industry.

VTCT is an awarding organization specializing in Hairdressing & Barbering, Beauty Therapy, Complementary Therapy, Sport, Active Health & Fitness, Hospitality, Business & Retail and Learning & Development.

Active IQ offers a range of qualifications in the Active Leisure sector, Business & Administration, Customer Service and Functional Skills.

What is the difference between the Levels 3, 4 and 5

Level 3 is equivalent to a school GCSE and it teaches you to give a routine massage treatment for sport, relaxation, beauty or similar.

Level 4 is equivalent to a school ‘A’ level or university entry standard and this teaches some more advanced technique which can help in the recovery of common injuries.

Level 5 is equivalent to a university under-graduate and only on this level will you learn how to assess, treat and rehabilitate a wide range of injuries.

All awarding bodies (BTEC, ITEC, VTCT, etc) have to use the same criteria when approving qualification Levels and so they must all be equivalent to each other. An L4 qualification at one body cannot be equivalent to an L5 at another.

Some training providers offer a pathway up through the grades but this means you learn anatomy and massage at a very basic L3 which is not sufficiently for the clinical skills needed at L5. An integrated Level 5 qualification teaches the foundation subjects at the right clinical level needed for the advanced training to follow.

What do the different therapy titles mean?

Masseur (male), Masseuse (female) or Massage Therapist

• Someone who can give routine massage treatments. This has a very wide range of uses for general wellbeing and relaxation.

Sports Massage Therapist

• Someone who gives a deeper massage which aims to help athletes prepare and recover better from hard exercise or competition. Many non-sports people like this deeper massage because it can help relieve minor aches and pains.

Sport and Remedial Massage Therapist

• A therapist who uses massage and more advanced techniques to help improve the recovery of common sports related injuries. People with non-sports injuries can find this equally beneficial.

Soft Tissue Therapist

• A therapist who can work independently to assess, treat and offer rehabilitation advice for people suffering a wide range of minor and chronic injuries caused by any lifestyle factor. As well as treating the injury they aim to identify the underlying causes and offer more long-term improvements in physical wellbeing.

Other commonly used titles

Manual Therapist:

• Someone who uses their body (usually their hands) to treat another person. So any of the above could claim this title.

Manipulative Therapist:

• Someone who treats by manipulating the body, so it could be used by a wide range of therapist but more usually by Osteopaths and Chiropractors.

Deep Tissue Therapist:

• Much the same as Sports Massage but commonly used by those who treat non-sports people.

Sports Therapist:

• There are Degrees and Diplomas in sports therapy and the title should only be used by those with these qualifications. This therapy has emerged through the sport and fitness sector (not the Complementary Healthcare sector) and its primary focus is on sports performance.

Trigger Point Therapist:

• Usually massage or soft tissue therapist who specialises in this one particular technique.

Sports Injury Therapist:

• Probably the same as a Sports Therapist.

What Title should we use?

Because there is no Statutory Regulation in this sector, therapists can use any title that is not otherwise protected, like Physiotherapist, Osteopath or Chiropractor. However, the title must be fair and honest so you should only use the correct title that fits your qualification. It is not illegal for a Level 3 massage therapist to call themselves a Soft Tissue Therapist but this is not honest and could be judged unfair by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Professional indemnity Insurance is based on the training level of the therapist. So if a Level 3 or 4 massage therapists claims to be a Soft Tissue Therapists and treats specific injuries as if they were, they may no longer be covered by their insurance.

Because Soft Tissue Therapy includes Sports Massage, and this can still be a big part of the job, it is still fair and honest for them to use the ‘Sports Massage’ if they want to. Indeed, many use both and have two different business cards to promote their work.

Is the ISRM qualification internationally recognised?

No qualification is Internationally recognised in this or any other industry because every country or State can have its own regulations which can be quite different to those in the UK.

The ISRM qualification is now recognised in several countries where our therapists have gone to work. We are happy to provide information about our training to any foriegn organisation in support of a member wishing to practice ther.

Some training organisations may include the word ‘international’ in their title but this only means they run courses in other countries.

Can the ISRM training lead to further qualifications?

Many ISRM trained therapists have gone on to train in Osteopathy which is a very popular career development. The Osteopathy colleges look very favourably on applicants with our qualification because they make their best students. And go on to become the best Osteopaths too.

Can I get a job with the ISRM qualification?

Most Soft Tissue Therapists are self-emoployed but there are a limited number of jobs available at private Physiotherapy clinics. Some therapists run clinics from their home and others rent a rooms at multi-disciplined clinics or health clubs. There is also the option to do home visits (for wealthier cients). There are many possibilities and most therapists will work in more than one situations.

Although Soft Tissue Therapists can treat many injuries we also give the highest quality massage and can have regular clients who want this. So most will have a mix of regular clients as well as those with soecific injuries to resolve.