Massage Therapy Certification & License

Massage Therapy Certification

The Massage Therapy Certification and licensing process is very confusing in the US. Certification is different than licensing. Each State has different licensing requirements and there are still a handful of states that don’t have any requirements. There is no true National Certification that means you can practice in any state. There is something called the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) and they offer a few different exams, but it does not mean that if you take their exam that you can practice in any state.

Each state has different requirements to become a licensed massage therapist. You will need to fulfill the requirements in the state that you want to practice. Even though many states use the same exam that is offered by the NCBTMB, that still does not mean you can practice in any state. The title of this certification is misleading.

To be able to provide massage therapy as an employee or start your own massage business you will need to be licensed to do massage in your state. Going to massage school you will most likely get a certificate of completion of the massage program but that does not allow you to call yourself a certified (Licensed) massage therapist.

It does mean that you need to complete the requirements for massage licensing in your state which may include becoming Nationally Certified by the National Certification Board or Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Up until recently, massage therapy certification has been offered only by the NCBTMB. This organization was developed by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) in 1992.

There is also currently another exam that is being accepted in some states. It is offered by the Federation of Massage State Boards. It still does not mean that you can practice in any state. The Federation is making headway in getting more states on board with having an alternative to National Certification.

The NCBTMB is a very controversial political topic in the massage profession. In some places the NCBTMB exam is often being required as a prerequisite for getting a job but this certification may not be all that it is supposed to be. It does not guarantee that a massage therapist will be knowledgeable or competent to do massage.

While the test is offered by the NCBTMB, you also have to pay extra to obtain the title of Nationally certified massage therapist. Most people do not renew their certification after their initial membership as it really does not do much in the way of getting you ahead in the profession.

To become a massage therapist in the US, you will need to find out what is required in your state or in the state you want to practice. Each state requirements vary in things like the number of total hours of education as well as the number of hours of classes in certain areas. Most often it requires some type of certification and passing massage school and a test.

For example two states can require 500 hours of training but they may require a different amount of hours in a specific topic like anatomy or pathology so you will need to take the extra training.

For any questions on Licensing and massage therapy certification, you will need to contact the massage state board in the state that you want to work. They will help you figure out what you need to do if moving to another state or if you are a new license candidate.