Which professional organization should you choose?
Massage Today just posted a comparison of the AMTA and ABMP you might want to read. I’ve looked at both organizations over the years and, while I am currently a member of AMTA, I have considered ABMP. So what have I found to be the differences?
First, let’s get the similarities out of the way.
- Both are large and cover the United States.
- Both publish magazines. The AMTA publishes Massage Therapy Journal and ABMP publishes Massage & Bodywork. I’ve read them both and they both offer a nice mix of educational, informational, and news articles.
- Both organizations offer a free web site and email service (more on that in another post), both offer online articles, and both offer liability insurance. Both offer ‘find a therapist’ services but the ABMP uses a different website www.massagetherapy.com for their portal to the public. AMTA has all of their information on their home site.
- While implied in the Massage Today article, the ABMP insurance is not the only one where you can add insured endorsements for your landlord and such. I currently have 2 additional endorsements on my insurance and they were free. All it took was a 10 minute phone call giving the details of the endorsement and they even faxed a copy of the rider for my files.
- Both organizations have a legislative affairs advocate. Both lobby on behalf of their membership and the profession in general. The policy positions may differ and you’ll want to investigate this to see which fits best for you.
Now for some of the differences:
The most obvious to the web surfer is in the layout of each organization’s website. I’m a member, so I don’t feel bad saying this: The AMTA website is simply more difficult to navigate. The ABMP website wins the UX (user experience) battle. The AMTA website is too busy and navigation is split between a left side menu and a horizontal menu below the banner. The ABMP website has simplified their home page to a few general topics and made it obvious where to go for information.
The AMTA has state and local chapters. The local chapters meet once a month and offer general business and continuing education opportunities. The ABMP does not have this. The AMTA has annual state and national conferences for professionals; ABMP does not. The ABMP has annual conference for massage educators; AMTA does not.
Boiled down, the organizations both offer a lot of benefits to their members. The big difference appears to be that AMTA offers more local involvement and conferences and ABMP offers more for massage educators.
So the real question is always: which should you join?
If you want to get together with other local massage therapists once a month, then the AMTA would be a good fit. The conferences are open to non-AMTA members, so that should not be a deciding factor. The price difference is very small, but ABMP is less expensive, which is always important when you are starting out.
For myself, I will continue to be a member of AMTA but I am considering adding ABMP membership as well. I teach CE courses and the ABMP has benefits for educators, and a reach to 70,000 members who might be interested in one of my courses. The concern I have is with the liability insurance: I will be double insured, which I don’t need and am not interested in paying for. I’ll be contacting both organizations in the coming weeks to try to resolve this. I know other massage therapists who have memberships with both organizations, so someone must have worked out the details.