Massage Therapy Certification: How to Become a Licensed Massage Therapist

Learn how to earn your massage therapy certification and become a registered or licensed massage therapist in your state through the FSMTB or NCBTMB certifications.
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Massage Therapy Career Facts

How to Get a Massage Therapy Certification

A typical massage therapy certification program duration is about 6 – 12 months and this includes both the coursework and required hours of clinical training.

The District of Columbia along with 45 states provide regulations over massage therapists in regards to licensing and capabilities. States generally require a massage therapy license in order to gain employment which first requires passing a professional exam or perhaps a state massage therapy exam depending on their regulations.

Cities and counties are also beginning to adopt massage therapist regulations as the industry experiences tremendous growth.

The highest regarded professional credentialing option for massage therapists is to pursue a certification offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Do I Need a Massage Therapy Certification?

Earning your massage therapy certification shows that you are a professional who has obtained knowledge and clinical experience practicing massage therapy.

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork is the only nationally recognized organization that offers a professional massage therapist certification. For massage therapists, obtaining an NCBTMB Board Certification is the highest level professional credential in the industry.

It is the most widely recognized credential and the most common path that massage therapists take to become licensed massage therapists in their state.

Massage Therapist Licensing Steps

Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Vermont do not require massage therapists to obtain a license. The other 45 states have licensing requirements for massage therapists.

If you want to become a massage therapist then you should check to see what your state requires you to do to become a registered or licensed massage therapist.

It is common for states to require massage therapists to be licensed or registered with the state board that oversees massage therapy professionals and regulates their scope.

In addition to paying varying fees to the state, each state generally requires the following for massage therapist licensure:

  • Graduating from an accredited massage therapy training program (500+ hours)
  • Completing either the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination offered by the FSMTB or the NCETM/NCETMB licensing exam offered by the NCBTMB
  • Completing a background check
  • Completing continuing education for license renewal

* FSMTB stands for Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards and NCBTMB stands for National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

NCBTMB Board Certification Requirements

Below is a list of Massage therapist Board Certification requirements provided by the NCBTMB:

  • Passing the NCBTMB Board Certification exam
  • Completing the massage therapy program including at least 750 hours of education
  • Taking continuing education classes
  • Completing 250 hours of professional massage therapy experience (within 6 months of completing your education)
  • Passing a background check at the national level
  • Having a valid and current CPR certification
  • Invoking the NCBTMB Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Making a commitment to oppose human trafficking

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards is the professional agency offering the MBLEx (Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination) that is currently approved for registration/licensing in 38 states.

The FSMTB doesn’t provide a professional certification training program comparable to the NCBTMB Board Certification program.

However, the licensing exam that the FSMTB offers is accepted in most states and may be a good option for some massage therapists looking to become licensed in their state.

If you are interested in earning your massage therapy certification to become a licensed massage therapist then click the blue button that says “find schools” to get matched to the best massage therapy program for you.

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