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National Certification in Massage Therapy

If you think you might move a few times in your career, it pays to understand the rules around national massage certification. Check out what our readers have to say in our National Certification in Massage Therapy FAQ.

national certification massage therapyMost students of massage therapy have heard about national certification and understand that a massage therapist needs a license to practice in many states. Furthermore, every state has different laws for massage therapists. In fact, some cities may even have local massage laws that are different from the state massage laws. All these laws and regulations can confound a student of massage therapy. Here are a few pointers that will clear the confusion about these laws and certifications:

What is national certification in massage therapy?

The certificate proves that the massage practitioner is qualified to practice massage. It also gives a sense of assurance to the client because he knows he is in trusted hands. Moreover, it deters unwanted elements in the society from using massage therapy as a front for their illicit activities.

The national certification is a declaration by National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) that the massage practitioner has completed a course in massage therapy and has passed the required examinations. It also indicates that the practitioner was eligible for the course, that he is bound by a code of ethics, and that he will conform to certain quality standards while administering massage therapy.

Does having a national certification in massage therapy allow the practitioner to practice anywhere in the United States?

It is important to understand the difference between a certificate and a license to practice massage therapy. The certificate testifies that the practitioner has the required knowledge in massage and bodyworks; a license allows the practitioner to set up his place of business or provide contractual services to established massage centers in a particular location.

Every state in the United States has a different massage law. Most of the laws stipulate that a practitioner must have spent a minimum number of hours in pursuing their massage certification. For example, Arizona requires 200 hours, while New York requires 1000 hours.

national massage certificationA majority of the states accept NCBTMB's national certification in massage therapy as a valid certificate for a practitioner to apply for a license. So, if a practitioner has the necessary national massage certification and has studied for the minimum number of hours as stipulated by that state, then they can apply for a license – assuming they fulfill the other conditions laid down by the state laws (such as: sound mind, good character, no criminal record, and the like).

Is a Massage License Required?

The rules vary dramatically. For example, in most states you must be licensed in order to practice massage as a business or you hold a massage job. But sometimes you have to read the fine print because in some locales a license to practice is necessary only when the practitioner desires to set up a massage business or provide services to a massage clinic on a contractual basis. No license is necessary if the practitioner desires to take up employment. But regardless of what the rules are in your state, it is clear that there is a strong push toward regulation of the industry. You would be wise to get certified before it is required.

What exam should I take?

The NCBTMB conducts two types of examinations – National Certificate Examination For Therapeutic Massage (NCETM) and National Certificate Examination For Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB). It is important to check which examination is accepted by your state's board before opting for it.

Is the national massage certification portable from one state to another?

us massage certificationMost states in the United States requires a practitioner to complete a minimum number of hours while pursuing his national certification in massage therapy – this is for the purpose of granting a license. If the number of hours conforms to the state's guidelines, then the massage certificate is portable in the incoming state. All incoming massage practitioners are considered by the state on a case-to-case basis. If the number of hours fall short then the massage therapist will have to re-take the examinations in accordance with the state's rules.

What about states that do not have any massage laws?

If a state does not have any massage laws, then the national certification in massage therapy is not required and a practitioner need not apply for a license with the state. However, the practitioner will need to check whether any local or county laws cover massage therapy under their authority. Needless to say, the practitioner will have to comply with these.

What if a state has state massage laws and some of its counties have local massage laws that are different from the state's massage laws?

Step 2 Index
 

In cases such as these, all the laws have to be complied with by the practitioner. There are no exceptions.

The movement towards a national certification in massage therapy is benefiting the industry despite the confusion created by inconsistent state and local laws.

If you are considering a long term career in massage, you would be wise to get the national massage certification even if you live in a state that doesn't require it. As more states adopt the national certification test requirement, you will already be prepared.

Have you ever moved to another State or Country?

As massage therapists we are subject to a lot of local laws and regulations. Have you ever moved to another area? What did you have to do to continue practicing massage?

Enter a Title for your Comment (i.e. Moved to New York)

Massage Laws and Regulations Discussions

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