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Massage Therapy Certification


Certification and Licensure

To help our readers better understand the requirements for state licensure and national certification in massage therapy, Allied Health World answers some of the more frequently asked questions people have about acquiring and retaining a license to practice

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What license is needed to work as a massage therapist?

Most states regulate the practice of massage therapy by requiring licensure. A license to practice is granted upon completion of an accredited massage therapy program, which includes a number of hours spent in clinical practice, and the successful completion of an exam that tests related knowledge and applied skills. Because this test and the subsequent licensure is administered and granted on a state level, it isn’t transferrable to other states.

What is required to maintain state licensure as a massage therapist?

Only a few states have continuing education requirements to maintain state licensure, and these requirements are typically minimal. To remain licensed, most states only require massage therapists to submit an application for license renewal along with a fee that is typically less than $200.

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Is there national certification in massage therapy?

An organization called the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) provides national certification that satisfies the requirements for licensure enforced by most states. The NCBTMB administers an exam called the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB). Completing a program through an accredited school and successfully completing the NCETMB exam will earn graduates the NCTMB credential, which stands for Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. NCTMB certification must be renewed every four years, but it isn’t particularly difficult to meet the requirements for doing so. Massage therapists who wish to retain the NCTMB credential are expected to complete 200 hours of therapeutic massage or continuing education every four years.


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