Though there is no set federal regulation governing the practice of massage therapy, there is a nationally recognized standard for massage therapy certification; that standard is held and maintained by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, or the NCBTMB.

Who Is The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage And Bodywork?

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is the offspring of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA); the AMTA started the NCBTMB in 1992 as a means of setting standards in the field of massage therapy since no widely accepted standard existed. With the growth of massage therapy and its acceptance into the mainstream and medical, physical, and alternative health fields, certification gained in importance and the work of the AMTA through the NCBTMB gained further recognition. Today, certification by the NCBTMB is the most highly held certification in the field, and in fact stands as the standard for licensure in most states that require massage therapists to be licensed to practice.

Requirements For Massage Therapy Certification

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork has defined a number of requirements which applicants must meet in order to be awarded NCBTMB massage therapy certification. In basic terms, the prospective certificant must

• Complete specified levels of massage therapy education
• Submit proof of training
• Gain and submit proof of experience
• Demonstrate proficiency in core massage therapy skills
• Demonstrate knowledge of the field, including applied knowledge and knowledge of ethical business practice
• Pass a rigorous written examination

In addition to the requirements for initial certification, certificants must renew their status every four years; upon renewal, applicants must show proof of work experience and proof of completion of continuing education in massage therapy (a minimum of 48 hours).

What NCBTMB Certification Means

NCBTMB massage therapy certification serves a number of functions, including licensure in those states which utilize the standard; its most important function, however, is protection of the public, therapists, and employers.

NCBTMB massage therapy certification is one of the only means of ensuring consistency in standards for massage therapy. All massage therapists bearing the credential of “Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork” (notated by the initials NCTMB) have passed the examination and proficiency testing of the Board, a board which is strictly devoted to maintaining quality and professionalism in the massage therapy field. In a field where regulations are far from standard, and licensing requirements range from poor (non-existent) to very good, massage therapy certification by the NCBTMB may be the only easily recognized credential massage therapy clients can rely on.