Requirements of a Massage Therapy Career

Massage therapy standards and training vary in every state. Forty-two states have laws regulating massage therapy. In the states that have boards regulating the practice of massage therapy, formal training and passing an exam are often mandatory. If there is no board, then a massage therapist follows regulations by local authorities. No matter where a therapist practices, there is always a degree of regulation. A massage therapy school should reflect the regulations of that state in their curriculum.

Most states require a high school diploma or GED before admission to a training program. Training takes about a year and may be a general program or a concentration on one of the modalities. Modalities are a specific category of massage. After training is finished, a standardized exam is given. If the student passes the exam, the student applies and receives a license. Depending on the state, the exam will be a state exam or one of the two national exams. There are three well-known national exams: the NCETMB (National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodyworks), NCETM (National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage), and MBLEx (Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination).

It is important that a future massage therapist check the legalities in the state they plan to practice in since laws vary widely from state to state. The license board in each state dictates which certifications and tests are acceptable for licensure. A future massage therapist needs to check the accreditation of a massage therapy program since that guarantees that the program is aligned to state standards. Contact the board or a professional organization to receive recommendations for programs.