It is now a requirement in 37 U.S. states and the District of Columbia that practicing massage therapists complete a qualifying massage therapy licensure program in order to conduct business. As more states follow suit, it is almost certain that future massage therapists will have to hold a license in massage therapy to work in the field.

Massage therapy is gaining more and more respect as a therapeutic alternative and supplement to traditional medical care, as well as a method of preventing many conditions. As the popularity of massage grows, the public is becoming better educated as to the importance of proper technique and training. Increased awareness has directly resulted in the increase of regulation imposed on the field by states and local municipalities. It is in the best interest of clients and therapists to complete a massage therapy licensure program to ensure career flexibility and quality, ethical patient treatment.

General Licensing Requirements For Massage Therapists

Massage therapy is regulated on the state level in the U.S.; in some states, particularly those with no state requirement, massage therapy is regulated on a smaller, local level (town, city, or county). The result of all this localized regulation is diverse requirements which vary significantly across the country. It is critical for students of massage therapy to check local and state massage therapy licensure program requirements so that they can be sure they will graduate from a program with the ability to work legally.

In the most basic terms, states require that students

• Successfully complete a formal massage therapy program
• Pass a national certification exam or state certification exam

To maintain licensure, students in most states must fulfill continuing education requirements as well.

Aspects Of Quality Massage Therapy Programs

There are certain factors students should be aware of when choosing a massage therapy licensure program. First off, students must be aware of what programs will be accepted for licensure in their state; out of over 1300 programs, only about 300 are accredited by a state board or education department agency. More than two-thirds of the programs may not be accepted by states or by professional certification boards for licensure. Accreditation is the first consideration when choosing a program.

Qualified programs will include coursework that focuses on the human body such as anatomy and physiology, organs, tissues, body mechanics, and motion and movement (kinesiology) as a base. Business and ethics classes are also included, and of course many hours of technique study and practice; in total, most regulatory bodies require a minimum of a 500 hour massage therapy licensure program.

Though choosing a licensing program for massage therapy can be confusing, it helps to look for a program that is accepted by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). The NCBTMB sets the standards for the field, and their standards are what many states use to set their own regulations. In many instances, the NCBTMB exceeds state regulatory requirements, so an investment in a massage therapy licensure program that meets their needs is the easiest way to ensure a quality education in massage therapy that is sure to meet most any state requirements and prepare the student for a quality career in massage therapy.