A massage therapy license is similar to a nursing license or a CPA license. In most parts of the country, it is illegal to practice massage therapy without a massage therapy license. Currently, 37 states and Washington, DC require people to apply for a massage therapy license before they can begin their career.
Because the process is different in each state, a single guideline for obtaining a massage therapy license does not exist. You will have to contact your state’s massage therapy regulatory board in order to find out their specific requirements for issuing a massage therapy license.
The following page provides information about which state’s require you to have a massage therapist license, as well as some basic steps regarding how to obtain one.
States that Require a Massage Therapist License
The following states all require a massage therapy license in order to practice the art of massage:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Keep in mind, different states have different requirements. In addition, a massage therapy license in one state is not valid in another.
How to Obtain a Massage Therapist License
A massage therapy license is issued by the state of practice according to their specific criteria. A large portion of this criteria is met by the massage therapist licensing exam offered by the National Certification Board of Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers (NCBTMB), the same organization that provides massage therapy certification.
1. Receive Massage Therapy Training
The most important step in obtaining your massage therapy license is to complete a set number of training hours. The amount of hours you must complete varies from state to state, but be prepared to undergo at least 300 hours. Many states demand students to complete up to 1,000 hours of massage therapy training.
A massage therapy training program can provide you with the hours needed to become eligible for a massage therapy license. Through your school or online program, you will take massage therapy courses related to anatomy, physiology, ethics, business, and other subjects. You will also learn about specialized massage therapy techniques.
2. Take the Massage Therapy License Exam
After completing your designated number of training hours, you will be ready to seek your massage therapy license. Most states accept the NCBTMB certification exam for licensing purposes. The NCBTMB offers two different certification exams that your state will review before granting you a massage therapy license.
Your massage therapy school can prepare you for the NCBTMB certification exams. Your courses will cover all subjects on the exams, and some schools may even offer special classes that test students with practice questions. After passing your certification exam, you will be able receive a massage therapy license.
Before seeking your massage therapy license, make sure you find out what your state says about massage therapy work. Rules and regulations can even vary within states from one county to another.
Further information on massage therapy licensing is available on the NCBTMB website.