Massage Therapy Licensing and Certification: How to Earn Your Credentials

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As a massage therapist, you’ll provide beneficial services to your clients, not only inducing relaxation and reducing stress, but addressing issues regarding muscle pain, illness, and other concerns. Because of the proven effects of massage and the widely held belief that it’s an important form of healthcare, most states impose regulations in order to work as a massage therapist to ensure the safety of your patients.

Only five states—California, Kansas, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wyoming—have no widespread regulations, though certain cities and counties within those states have their own rules regarding the legal practice of massage.

Becoming board certified in a modality beyond basic massage can expand your job opportunities and increase your earning potential.

In the states that do impose these laws, there are minimum education requirements and other criteria you must meet before you can begin your career. For example, some states require graduating from a school that’s approved by an organization such as the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Most states also require that you pass a licensing exam, such as the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam. Some states have tests specific to the state and sometimes offer test options such as the Certification Exam for Structural Integration (CESI) or the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

Beyond licensing, many massage therapists choose to pursue voluntary board certification through the NCBTMB to demonstrate their dedication and expertise. The organization also offers specialty certificates for members who want to tailor their careers with additional education in particular areas. Though not necessary, specializing in a modality beyond basic massage can expand your job opportunities, increase your earning potential, and give clients and employers the confidence that you’re committed to the field.

Before choosing an educational program for massage therapy, make sure you understand the licensing requirements in your state and how to prepare for board certification or specialization should you choose to pursue that route.


Massage Therapy State Board Licensing Requirements

Hover over your state below to learn what it takes to earn a license and how to maintain it once you do. Click on your state to go to its massage therapy licensing board.

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC

Alabama

Board: Alabama Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 650 hours of classroom and clinical instruction from an accredited school, with at least 50 hours of supervised massage

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 16 hours every two years

Additional Requirements: Background check and professional liability insurance of $1 million


Alaska

Board: Alaska Board of Massage Therapists

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 625 hours of instruction, with at least 138 hours of clinical work from a board-approved massage therapy school or completion of an apprenticeship program that meets the requirements of the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) and the Coalition of National Massage Therapy Organizations’ The Core: Entry-Level Massage Education Blueprint

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 16 hours every two years

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR certification


Arizona

Board: Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 700 hours of classroom and clinical instruction from a board-approved massage therapy school

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam. Graduates of Arizona-based schools that are approved by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education are exempt from the test.

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years

Additional Requirements: Background check 


Arkansas

There are three levels of licensing in Arkansas. Anyone wishing to earn a higher license must first meet the requirements of the preceding license and work with that credential for a minimum period of time.

Board: Arkansas Department of Health Massage Therapy Office

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours of classroom and clinical instruction from a board-approved massage therapy school, with a passing grade of at least 75% in each course

Exam: A state-prepared exam or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) along with the Arkansas Jurisprudence Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 18 hours every two years

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR certification

Title: Master Massage Therapist

Experience: At least two years and 250 hours of practical experience as a licensed massage therapist

Continuing Education for Initial Application: A total of at least 125 hours

Title: Massage Therapy Instructor

Experience: At least three years and 250 hours of practical experience as a master massage therapist

Continuing Education for Initial Application: A total of at least 250 hours


California

There are no statewide requirements for massage therapy licensing, though you can apply for voluntary certification by meeting the following criteria. Some cities do require certification in order to practice, so check with your city or county clerk to make sure you’re meeting requirements.

Board: California Massage Therapy Council

Title: Certified Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours of instruction from a board-approved massage therapy school 

Exam: A CAMTC-approved test such as the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: None, but recertification fees are required every two years

Additional Requirements: Background check 


Colorado

Board: Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Office of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours of classroom and clinical instruction from a school in good standing with the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: None, but renewal fees are required every two years

Additional Requirements: Background check and professional liability insurance of at least $50,000 per claim with a total of $300,000 per year


Connecticut

Board: Connecticut State Department of Public Health Massage Therapy Division

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 750 hours of classroom instruction from a school approved by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) or a state board of postsecondary trade schools, as well as 60 hours of an unpaid clinical experience or internship

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every four years, with at least 18 hours in person

Additional Requirements: Professional liability insurance of at least $250,000 per person per claim, with an aggregate of $1 million


Delaware

Delaware offers licensing as a massage therapist and certification as a massage technician. Only licensed massage therapists can work on medically diagnosed patients or get referrals from a physician or chiropractor.

Board: Delaware Board of Massage and Bodywork

Title: Certified Massage Technician

Training: 300 in-class hours from a board-approved massage therapy or bodywork school

Exam: None

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with at least 12 hours of core credits in a hands-on setting and three hours in ethics

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR certification

Title: Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist

Training: 500 in-class hours from a board-approved massage therapy or bodywork school

Exam: MBLEx or NCBTMB Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal and Additional Requirements: Same as above


Florida

Board: Florida Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours from a board-approved massage therapy school or a 12-month, Florida-based apprenticeship program under the supervision of a sponsoring massage therapist

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with courses in Florida law, HIV/AIDs, and medical error prevention

Additional Requirements: Background check 


Georgia

Board: Georgia Board of Massage Therapy 

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours from a board-approved massage therapy program, with between 50 and 60 hours of supervised clinical practice

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with at least 12 hours of direct, hands-on instruction

Additional Requirements: Background check, as well as bodily injury, property damage, and professional liability insurance of at least $1 million of coverage per claim, with a minimum total of $3 million per year

Hawaii

Board: Hawaii Board of Massage Therapy 

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 570 hours from a board-approved massage therapy school or a Hawaii-based apprenticeship program with at least 420 hours of training under the supervision of a licensed massage therapist

Exam: State-issued exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: None, but renewal fees are required every two years

Additional Requirements: CPR certification


Idaho

Board: Idaho Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours of instruction from a board-approved massage therapy school, with at least 110 hours of supervised clinical work

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: Six hours every year, with at least one hour in ethics

Additional Requirements: CPR certification


Illinois

Board: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Massage Therapy Division 

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 600 hours of supervised classroom and clinical instruction, with a passing grade of at least 70% in each course

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with at least two hours on ethics

Additional Requirements: Background check 


Indiana

Board: Indiana State Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Certified Massage Therapist

Training: 625 hours of supervised classroom and clinical instruction from an accredited massage therapy school

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every four years

Additional Requirements: Background check and professional liability insurance of at least $2 million per claim and $6 million total


Iowa

Board: Iowa Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 600 hours from a school accredited by an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education, with no more than 120 hours of supervised clinical experience

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 16 hours every two years, with at least eight hours of hands-on training

Additional Requirements: CPR and first aid certification


Kansas

No are no statewide requirements for licensing, though some cities may impose their own local regulations. Check with your City Clerk to make sure you’re meeting requirements.


Kentucky

Board: Kentucky Board of Licensure for Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 600 hours of supervised experience from a board-approved training program

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with at least three hours on ethics

Additional Requirements: Background check 


Louisiana

Board: Louisiana Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 in-class hours from a board-approved massage therapy program

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam, or another test approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

Continuing Education for Renewal: 12 hours each year

Additional Requirements: Background check 


Maine

Board: Maine Department of Professional & Financial Regulation Massage Therapy Division

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours of classroom and clinical instruction, with at least 100 hours of supervised, hands-on experience. Education requirements may be waived by passing a licensing exam.

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: None, but renewal fees are required each year

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR/first aid certification


Maryland

Maryland offers two levels of licensing: registered massage practitioner and licensed massage therapist. Only the latter is legally allowed to practice therapeutic massage in a medical provider’s office, hospital, or other healthcare facility.

Board: Maryland Board of Chiropractic and Massage Therapy Examiners

Title: Registered Massage Practitioner

Training: 600 hours of instruction from an accredited massage therapy program

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam, or the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certifying exam, as well as the Maryland State Jurisprudence Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with three hours in ethics or Maryland law, three hours in communicable disease education, and one hour in diversity or cultural competency

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR certification

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Same as above, plus 60 college credits


Massachusetts

Board: Massachusetts Board of Registration of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 650 hours from a board-approved massage therapy school, including at least 300 hours in supervised massage theory and technique and 100 hours of unpaid clinical experience

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam, only if you lack the 300 hour-requirement of massage theory and technique

Continuing Education for Renewal: None, but renewal fees are required each year

Additional Requirements: Two letters of reference and professional liability insurance of at least $1,000,000 (applies to both each occurrence and the aggregate) 


Michigan

Board: Michigan Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 625 hours of instruction from a board-approved program, with at least 75 hours of supervised clinical experience

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 18 hours every three years, with at least two hours on ethics

Additional Requirements: Background check 


Minnesota

No are no statewide requirements for licensing, though some cities may impose their own local regulations. Check with your city clerk to make sure you’re meeting requirements.


Mississippi

Board: Mississippi State Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 700 in-class hours from a board-approved program, including 100 hours of supervised clinical experience

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam, as well as the Mississippi State Law Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years (12 each year), with three hours each of ethics and Mississippi law

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR/first aid certification


Missouri

Board: Missouri Board of Therapeutic Massage

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours of supervised instruction from a board-approved massage therapy school or apprenticeship program with a certified mentor

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 12 hours every two years

Additional Requirements: Background check and professional liability insurance of at least $1,000,000 (applies to both each occurrence and the aggregate)


Montana

Board: Montana Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours in a program that meets the curriculum requirements for programs accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or its equivalent

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 12 hours every two years


Nebraska

Board: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Massage Therapy Division

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 1,000 hours of in-class instruction over the course of no less than nine months, including 300 hours of clinical experience

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with at least 14 hours in hands-on education and three hours on ethics

Additional Requirements: Background check 


Nevada

In addition to massage therapy licensing, Nevada also offers credentials for reflexology and structural integration.

Board: Nevada State Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 550 hours of instruction from an approved massage therapy program, with at least 80 hours of clinical instruction

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years

Additional Requirements: Background check


New Hampshire

Board: New Hampshire Advisory Board of Massage Therapists

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 750 hours of instruction from a board approved program with 125 documented clinical hours

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 12 hours every two years

Additional Requirements: Adult CPR/first aid certification 


New Jersey

Board: New Jersey Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy 

Title: Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist

Training: 500 hours of education from a board-approved school, including at least 100 hours of supervised clinical experience

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 20 hours every two years, with at least two hours in ethics

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR/AED/first aid certification


New Mexico

Board: New Mexico Massage Therapy Board

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 650 hours in a massage therapy school approved to operate as a private postsecondary institution, with at least 100 hours of hands-on training prior to beginning a clinical practicum

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam, as well as the New Mexico Jurisprudence Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 16 hours every two years, with at least four hours in ethics

Additional Requirements: CPR/first aid certification


New York

Board: New York State Office of the Professions Massage Therapy Division

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 1,000 hours from a program registered by the New York State Education Department or one that meets the curriculum criteria of these registered programs. At least 150 of these hours must be hands-on practice on a person.

Exam: New York State Massage Therapy Examination

Continuing Education for Renewal: 36 hours every three years

Additional Requirements: CPR certification


North Carolina

Board: North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist

Training: 500 hours from a board-approved massage therapy school, with no more than 100 hours of clinical experience

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) as well as the North Carolina Jurisprudence Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours for license periods of two or more years; 12 hours for periods of less than two years. Each must include at least three hours of ethics.

Additional Requirements: Background check


North Dakota

Board: North Dakota Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 750 hours from a board-approved massage therapy program, with at least 75 hours of clinical practice

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam, as well as the North Dakota Jurisprudence Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: For massage therapists licensed for up to 14 years, 24 hours of continuing education is required every two years, with at least 12 hours of hands-on instruction. During your second renewal, at least three hours must be on ethics. Those licensed between 15 and 24 years are required to complete six hours of continuing education every two years, while only three hours are required for those practicing 25 years or more.

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR certification

Ohio

Board: State Medical Board of Ohio Massage Therapy Division

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 750 hours from a board-approved program, including the completion of at least one therapeutic massage on a licensed massage therapy

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)

Continuing Education for Renewal: None, but renewal fees are required every two years

Additional Requirements: Background check


Oklahoma

Board: Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering Advisory Board on Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours from a state-licensed massage therapy school

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)

Continuing Education for Renewal: Five hours each year

Additional Requirements: Background check and professional liability insurance


Oregon

Board: Oregon State Board of Massage Therapists

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 625 hours from a school accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam, or the Certification Exam for Structural Integration (CESI), as well as the Oregon Jurisprudence Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 25 hours every two years, with at least one hour in cultural competency and a one-hour online pain management module

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR certification


Pennsylvania

Board: Pennsylvania State Board of Massage Therapy 

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 600 hours of in-class instruction from a board-approved program. Any externship hours do not apply to this requirement.

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with a minimum of 16 in-class hours and at least four hours on ethics

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR certification


Rhode Island

Board: Rhode Island Department of Health Massage Therapy Division 

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours from a board-approved massage therapy program including clinical practice

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: Six hours every year

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR certification


South Carolina

Board: South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation Massage/Bodywork Panel

Title: Licensed Massage/Bodywork Therapist

Training: 500 hours from a massage therapy school approved by the Commission on Higher Education

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 12 hours every two years


South Dakota

Board: South Dakota Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours from a board-approved massage therapy school

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: Eight hours every two years

Additional Requirements: Professional liability insurance of at least $250,000


Tennessee

Board: Tennessee Board of Massage Licensure

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours of classroom instruction from a board-approved massage therapy school

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with at least two hours on Tennessee rules regarding massage therapists and two hours on professional ethics or substance abuse

Additional Requirements: Background check and two letters of reference


Texas

Texas offers licensing for massage therapists and massage therapy instructors. The latter must currently hold an active massage therapy license and meet additional experience criteria.

Board: Texas Massage Therapy Advisory Board

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours in a board-approved massage therapy program, with at least 50 hours spent in an internship consisting of at least 40 hours of hands-on patient experience

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)

Continuing Education for Renewal: 12 hours every two years

Additional Requirements: Background check

Title: Massage Therapy Instructor

Experience and Training: At least a year of practical experience as a licensed massage therapist with 500 hours of experience, and 30 hours of a course on teaching adult learners

Continuing Education for Renewal: 12 hours every two years


Utah

Board: Utah Department of Commerce Massage Therapy Division

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 600 hours from a board-approved massage therapy school, including 100 hours of clinical experience, or 1,000 hours of a supervised apprenticeship program

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)

Continuing Education for Renewal: None, but renewal fees are required every two years

Additional Requirements: Background check


Vermont

There are no statewide requirements for licensing, though some cities may impose their own local regulations. Check with your City Clerk to make sure you’re meeting requirements.


Virginia

Board: Virginia Department of Health Professions Board of Nursing

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours from a massage therapy program approved by the State Council of Higher Education or an equivalent agency in another state

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with at least one hour on professional ethics. Proof of certification by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is also required.

Additional Requirements: Background check


Washington

Board: Washington State Department of Health Massage Therapy Division

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours from a board-approved massage program lasting no less than six months, with up to 50 hours of clinical practice

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam, as well as the Washington State Jurisprudence Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with at least eight hours of hands-on instruction and four hours of professional ethics or Washington law

Additional Requirements: Background check, CPR/first aid certification, and four hours of HIV/AIDS training


Washington, D.C.

Board: D.C. Board of Massage Therapy

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours of in-classroom training from a board-approved program lasting no less than six months, plus at least 50 hours of supervised clinical experience

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam, or another test approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

Continuing Education for Renewal: 12 hours every two years, with three hours of ethics and six hours of hands-on technique. In January 2021, requirements will increase by 14 hours every two years, with the addition of two hours of LGBTQ education. 

Additional Requirements: Background check and CPR/first aid certification


West Virginia

Board: West Virginia Massage Therapy Licensure Board

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist

Training: 500 hours from a board-approved program lasting no less than six months, with at least 100 hours of hands-on application

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with at least three hours in professional ethics


Wisconsin

Board: Wisconsin Massage Therapy and Bodywork Therapy Credentialing Board

Title: Licensed Massage Therapist or Bodywork Therapist (titles are interchangeable)

Training: 600 hours from an accredited massage therapy school, with at least 20 hours of clinical experience

Exam: Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Exam, as well as the Wisconsin Massage Therapy and Bodywork Therapy State Law Exam

Continuing Education for Renewal: 24 hours every two years, with at least two hours on ethics

Additional Requirements: CPR/AED/first aid certification and professional liability insurance of $1,000,000 per occurrence and an aggregate of $1,000,000 per year


Wyoming

There are no statewide requirements for licensing, though some cities may impose their own local regulations. Check with your City Clerk to make sure you’re meeting requirements.


Massage Therapy Certification

Once you’ve earned the license you need, you can choose to further your career by pursuing optional board certification through the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Since 2013, this credential has been considered the industry’s top achievement and shows to clients, employers, and students that you’ve met more than just the minimum requirements.

“Professionals recognize and respect board certification,” says Susan G. Salvo, author and director of education at the Louisiana Institute of Massage. “It symbolizes dedication and expertise. Massage therapists who are board certified have gone above and beyond licensure. You can expect more from professionals who chose to become board certified.”

To earn this credential, you must:

  • Graduate from an NCBTMB Assigned School with a minimum of 500 program hours, including at least 200 hours of supervised, hands-on instruction
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Pass the rigorous board certification exam 
  • Agree to uphold the NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Complete a minimum of 24 continuing education credits every two years 

What’s on the NCBTMB Exam?


The board certification exam consists of 140 questions and you’ll have 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the test. The exam simulates real-life scenarios built around:

  • Assessing and addressing client needs
  • Applied science
  • Massage modalities and techniques
  • Professional communication
  • Professionalism and ethics
  • Laws and business practices

How Many Applicants Pass?


According to the NCBTMB Annual Exam Statistics Report, the 2018 pass rate was 63%. 

Specialty Certificates

With your board licensing and certification in hand, you then have the option to earn a certificate in a specialized area related to a particular patient population or modality of massage. Specialty certificates demonstrate advanced education, elevate the standards of massage, and ensure patients receive the best possible care. The NCBTMB partners with healthcare organizations and academic programs across the country to provide top-notch training and testing in the eight following areas:

  • Clinical rehabilitative massage
  • Massage therapy for integrative healthcare
  • Military veteran massage
  • Oncology massage
  • Pain and palliative care
  • Reflexology
  • Spa management
  • Sports massage

There are other unique types of massage you could choose to pursue as well. Though no board-sanctioned licensing or certificates exist for these specialties, you might find yourself with an interest in particular areas such as prenatal massage, myofascial release, Thai bodywork, hot stone therapy, infant massage, and more. Schools across the country offer coursework beyond their traditional programs for those who want to explore one of these subfields.  

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