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Massage Therapy State Licensing and Certification Requirements

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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.

States Without Regulations

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.

States With Regulations

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 an accredited 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).

A Note On Board Certification

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 and paying the costs of admission, 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 License Requirements by State

Find your state in the dropdown below to learn what it takes to earn a license and how to maintain it once you do. Click on your state’s board to go to its massage therapy licensing agency.

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Search licensing requirements by state

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: Massage Therapy Arkansas Department of Health
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 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 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 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

District of Columbia

Board: DC 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

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

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.

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 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 Oriential 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: Requirements are 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

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.

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

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 2021 pass rate was 58.6%. 

Additionally, though there are no massage schools that are truly 100% online due to the nature of the job, online massage classes are available to help you satisfy continuing education credits and stay up to date on the latest techniques and research.

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


author-default

Written and reported by:
Natural Healers Team

With professional insight from:
Susan G. Salvo, B. Ed., LMT, N.T.S, C.I.
Author, Director of Education, Louisiana Institute of Massage