In This Article
- Deep Tissue Massage Training
- Palliative Care Massage Therapy
- Medical Massage Therapy
- Sports Massage Therapy
- Massage Therapy in California
- Massage Therapist in Florida
- Massage Therapy in Arizona
- Massage Therapy in Texas
- Massage Therapy in Virginia
Becoming a massage therapist in New York: Education & salary data
The New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) Office of the Professions regulates the licensing of massage therapists in New York. Like most other states, getting licensed as a massage therapist requires meeting certain education and examination requirements. One thing that makes New York a bit different from the norm is that you must pass their own state-specific examination, as opposed to a nationally recognized exam such as the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx).
If you’re thinking about pursuing a massage career and joining over 14,000 licensed massage therapists in the state of New York, continue reading to find out exactly what you need to get your license and become a force of healing in peoples’ lives.
Requirements for becoming a massage therapist in New York
People who wish to obtain a massage therapist license in New York must satisfy the following general requirements:
These requirements apply to new massage therapists seeking a license for the first time, and may differ slightly for people who are already licensed in another state.
To apply for a license, you must submit an application and pay the appropriate fee to the NYSED Office of the Professions, which can be done online or by mail.
Education and training requirements
New York requires that massage therapists have a high school diploma or equivalent education and graduate from a massage therapy program registered by the NYSED as qualifying for licensure. The program must consist of at least 1000 hours of instruction. Of those hours, a minimum of 150 must be practicing on a person.
In addition, you must complete coursework in the following areas as part of your education:
There are numerous approved massage therapy programs that are less than 1000 hours of instruction, and that’s okay—you may earn these hours at multiple institutions. Furthermore, if you complete a program of at least 500 hours and have received a diploma or certificate, you can still apply for licensure. The NYSED will review your credentials and you’ll be informed if there are any educational deficiencies you need to make up in order to complete the education requirement.
Exam and licensing requirements
Massage therapy licensure applicants must pass the New York State Massage Therapy Examination to obtain their license. The exam is offered twice per year in January and August. You must register online for the exam through Scantron Assessment after submitting your initial licensure application to the NYSED. You’ll receive your license once the NYSED verifies that you’ve passed, provided there are no other deficiencies in your application.
After you’ve submitted your initial licensure application but before you take the exam, you can be issued a limited permit once the NYSED reviews all your documentation. A limited permit allows you to still practice as a massage therapist under the direct supervision of a massage therapist licensed in New York. You can apply for a limited permit when you submit your initial licensure application or after.
A limited permit allows you to still practice as a massage therapist under the direct supervision of a massage therapist licensed in New York.
Limited permits are valid for no more than a year or until the results of your first attempt on the massage therapy examination are known, whichever comes first. Limited permits, therefore, are not available for anyone who has already held a limited permit or has failed the exam.
Continuing education requirements
Licensed massage therapists in the state of New York must renew their registration every three years. When doing so, you must submit evidence of completing at least 36 hours of continuing education within each three-year renewal period. No more than 12 of these hours can be self-instructional coursework. This requirement is waived the first time you renew your registration after initial licensure.
Acceptable continuing education courses must be administered by a sponsor approved by the NYSED and in an approved subject area.
Legal considerations for massage therapists in New York
Transferability for out-of-state applicants
For people who are already licensed in another state, country or territory and want to obtain a license for the state of New York, you may be eligible to apply for a license by endorsement if you have practiced for at least two years. The requirements to do so differ a bit depending on how long you’ve been practicing as a massage therapist elsewhere.
All applicants must satisfy the following:
For applicants that have been licensed and practicing for two to four years, you must:
For applicants that have been licensed and practicing for five years or more, you must:
Professional conduct and ethical guidelines
Part 29 of the NYSED’s Rules of the Board of Regents outlines what is considered unprofessional conduct for all professions and health professions specifically. It also includes special provisions for the practice of massage therapy. A massage therapist that engages in unprofessional conduct could have their license suspended or revoked.
In addition, the NYSED has a list of precautions for massage/bodywork professionals as well as guidelines for practicing massage therapy. These guidelines include information about communication, providing treatment, confidentiality, consent, boundaries, immoral conduct, discrimination, hygiene and competency.
Scope of practice
The NYSED defines the practice of massage therapy as, “engaging in applying a scientific system of activity to the muscular structure of the human body by means of stroking, kneading, tapping and vibrating with the hands or vibrators for the purpose of improving muscle tone and circulation,” in Article 155 of their Education Law. This section also defines who may use the term “massage therapist” and related titles.
Working as a massage therapist in New York
How much does a New York massage therapist make?
Massage therapists in New York had an annual median wage of $49,350 in 2022. That’s about $500 higher than the median annual wage of massage therapists for the whole country ($49,860). New York doesn’t have any metropolitan areas that make the list of top ten paying metro areas, not even New York City. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the number of massage therapists that the BLS estimates are in New York is much lower than the number of active massage therapist licenses in the state as reported by the NYSED. If we aren’t getting a full picture of all massage therapist salaries, then the annual wage for New York massage therapists could in fact be much higher.
Median Hourly Wage$24
|Metro area||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY||$50,650||$27,460||$88,400|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$48,950||$36,900||$97,690|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.
Job outlook and finding employment opportunities
The BLS estimates that the massage therapy profession will grow 20% through 2031, much faster than the average across all occupations. According to their data, New York is the state with the fifth highest employment of massage therapists with most of those jobs concentrated in the greater New York City metropolitan area. As of January 1, 2021, the NYSED reports that there are 14,268 active massage therapist licenses in the state of New York.
Setting up a private practice
In addition to your massage therapist license, you’ll need a business license to open a business in the state of New York. Doing so requires working with the state and local government in the location you will be operating your business, which means the process isn’t always the same everywhere. New York’s Business Express site has comprehensive information about how to start a business in the state, and even has a custom business checklist feature where you can determine what you need to start your particular business in your location(s), including information on taxes, insurance and liability, permits and more.
Staying up to date on industry developments and trends
For any questions or concerns regarding massage therapist licensing, you should always consult the NYSED which regulates licensing in the state. The New York chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is also a great resource. They have a free newsletter, events and education resources for massage therapists and they keep information on their site about government relations as they pertain to the practice of massage therapy in New York. Members of AMTA’s New York chapter also have additional benefits such as discounts, networking opportunities and liability insurance.
The best way to discover if massage therapy is right for you and set yourself up for a successful career is to enroll in an approved massage therapy program. In New York, you should pick a program of at least 1,000 hours (or multiple programs that add up to their 1,000-hour requirement) to qualify for licensure. Most programs provide their students with instruction and resources for how to get your license after graduation, which entails passing the New York State Massage Therapy Examination. Start searching for programs today that align with your aspirations in this ever-expanding industry.