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How to Become a Massage Therapist in North Carolina - NC

Once you have completed the required educational and instructional components necessary to earn North Carolina massage therapy certification, the next step is to sit for the national exam for massage therapists.  North Carolina accepts exam scores from three exams: National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB), National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM), Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), or Oriental Bodywork Therapy Examination (OBTE).  After December 31, 2010 the NCETMB and NCETM exam scores will no longer be accepted by the state of North Carolina.  As these exams are all offered by different sources, it is important to understand the process to apply for each one individually.  They all require a fee, an appointment prior to taking the test, and proof of compliance with the educational requirements in North Carolina.  For more detailed information, visit their websites and follow the instructions given for testing.  The NCETMB and the NCETM are both offered through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork , the MBLEX is offered through the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards , and the OBTE is offered through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. 

Licensure is required before an individual can practice as a massage therapist in North Carolina.  The agency responsible for overseeing the regulation of the license is the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy.  This agency sets forth the basic requirements needed to become a massage therapist, and enforces the laws that were established to make sure proper code of conduct is being followed. 

There are currently two ways to achieve North Carolina massage therapy certification for licensure.  Both ways require a written request to the Board along with a $20 application fee before the application packet can be sent to you.  The first way is by endorsement.  This means that an individual has been practicing massage therapy in another state and would like to transfer his/her license to North Carolina or he/she has been practicing in another state that does not license its massage therapists and would like to work in North Carolina.  As long as the current license is in good standing, the process is fairly simple and requires a notarized application, application fee ($150), photograph, and other supporting documentation.  The supporting documentation includes copy of current license, background check authorization form and fee ($40), statements of moral character, proof of United States citizenship, and proof that you are proficient in the English language. 

If your state does not regulate the practice of massage therapy by certification, registration or licensure, you can receive a North Carolina license through endorsement by a similar process to the one above.  The primary difference is that you will need to provide proof of satisfactory test scores from one of the standardized tests that are offered to massage therapy students, along with an official transcript from the massage therapy school that you attended, and additional supporting documentation.  The curriculum from the school must meet or exceed the standards set forth by the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy or you will not be granted a license to practice.  Both endorsement routes generally take three to six months from the time of submission of the application to receipt of the license. 

The second way to become a licensed massage therapist in North Carolina is licensure by examination.  After successful completion of the education requirements and one of the three examinations, you will be required to complete the application process as outlined above.  The time frame from submission to receipt of the license is thirty business days for in state educated applicants to sixty business days for out of state educated applicants.  All forms and complete information for both the endorsement and the examination routes are available of the Board’s website www.bmbt.org. 

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