Massage therapy continuing education is not only a good idea for maintaining a career in massage therapy; in many states, it is the law. Likewise, massage therapy continuing education is a requirement of membership in the American Massage Therapy Association (the premier governing body for the field) and certification by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB); certification by the NCBTMB is the standard for high quality care, and is the law in a number of states regulating massage therapy.
National Requirements For Massage Therapy Continuing Education
Regulatory requirements for massage therapists vary by state in the U.S.; up to 13 states do not regulate massage therapy, but in those states some local ordinances might apply. It is best for students to gain an understanding of their local requirements for continuing education as it applies to massage therapy to ensure that they are practicing legally.
In states that do regulate massage therapy practices (37 states and the District of Columbia) the standard that is used is often the standard for licensure set by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA); in fact, certification by the AMTA (in the form of the NCBTMB) is the licensing requirement in a number of states. Practically speaking, the best course for massage therapists to follow is to meet the educational standards of the AMTA, which will ensure that their practice is a quality practice with the versatility to practice throughout the United States.
What The AMTA Requires For Continuing Education In Massage Therapy
The AMTA requires students to complete at least 48 hours of massage therapy continuing education every four years; this requirement begins with the first full year a therapist holds Professional Active Membership in the association. Continuing education programs must meet the standards of the AMTA or be approved by the NCBTMB. The AMTA accepts trainings of a hands-on, experiential manner, trainings in theory, and research education as fulfillment of the requirement.
The AMTA does not approve courses themselves, but relies on the student to make the determination as to whether a course in massage therapy continuing education fits the description of a qualified program (the description can be found through the AMTA). Alternatively, students can choose a course approved by the NCBTMB.
Once coursework is completed, therapists will also need to know where to submit proof of the work in massage therapy continuing education; some states may be satisfied with submission to the AMTA, but others may require submission to the governing state body as well. The AMTA requires proof upon membership renewal (every 4 years), but does accept submissions prior to filing as courses are taken (submission is a matter of filing a simple form, available online).
Continuing education in massage therapy is never a waste of time, as it can only further a massage therapy career. Understanding requirements for completion and submission of massage therapy continuing education is an important part of maintaining a professional massage therapy career.