How much money does a massage therpist make when they first start?

This would depend largely on your geographic location as well as the local demand for the service against the availability of the service. If you are in a highly industrialized area (such as manufacturing) with little access to spa or health clubs (which normally provide massage) then you will probably be looking at a medium-to-high demand with very little supply, this would result in a slightly higher rate. If, however, you lived in a bustling town with a lot of office jobs (sitting at a keypad all day is killer on the lower back) then you'll probably also have spa's, health clubs, and clinics to compete with. If this is the case, then you'll want to do some leg work and investigate these competitors. Find out what their qualified experience is, what "packages" do they offer, is the fee a per-hour fee or a per-session fee? Once you have this information, compare it to your own experties and your own offerings of "packages" ans services. Decide what fee scale you want to use (per hour? half-hour? or perhaps even per session?). Once all that is done, you can then focus on a price range that is still competitive in the market.

Once you have your rate in mind, calculate your expenses for the month and add 30% to that number for "financial flexability" (the wind always changes directions and some months will be worse than others). Now that you have your 'budgeted expense' down, you can simply take the pricing scale against your expense forecast and determine how many clients you have to see per month in order to break even.

I'm in Massage Therapy school myself and will finish up in Sept 2008 here in Illinois, and this is the very modal I will be using when I start my practice (after a year of working on the field).

I truly hope this helps anyone who reads this, and may all your days be blessed with the warmth and compassion of love.