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Becoming a massage therapist has become a popular career choice in recent years and BeautySchools.com is excited you are considering joining this fast-paced industry. We want to give you the scoop on the most important aspects to consider, so that when you pick a school, you are confident it best fits your educational needs and ultimately will help make you a successful masseuse.
Like most other cosmetology programs, the requirements for those who wish to practice massage therapy vary from state to state. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, there are approximately 1,120 massage therapy schools across the country, that offer at least 500 hours of initial training. Although 500 hours is not the required hours for every state, it is the normal. We recommend you check out your state licensing board’s requirements to learn how many hours you will be expected to complete.
What is the difference between becoming licensed and becoming a certified massage therapist?
While some states will allow you to work once you have received certification, other states require you become licensed. What is the difference you ask? To become licensed in the state in which you wish to practice, you have to complete the required education from an accredited massage therapy program. Becoming licensed is required by law in order to practice so it’s seen as nonvoluntary for those who wish to become massage therapists. If you receive your license, it is an endorsement from the government agency that regulates massage therapy in your state, that you have completed the required training and seen as competent to work with patients in the massage industry.
Certification is done through non government agencies, and is an acknowledgment from the association that you have completed its qualifications and that it deems you have the necessary skills. Certification is not required and is seen as a voluntary process. Although you do not have to be certified to practice, we recommend you look into a certification process for a number of reasons. First, different associations and certifications allow you member benefits including networking events and continued education opportunities. Additionally, becoming certified show potential clients that you have completed additional training and are competent to perform a number of different massage therapy techniques safely and accurately.
Is there a national exam I must pass in order to practice massage therapy?
Again, each state has it’s own regulations that it will require you to follow. A few states administer their own exams through the massage licensing board, but in most cases, passing one of two national exams is accepted. The MBLEx is offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards and costs $195. You can take this massage therapy exam as many times as needed to pass, but will be required to pay the $195 testing fee each time.
You can also choose to take one of two licensing exams provided by the NCBTMB. Depending on your state requirements, you will need to successfully pass either the national Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage or the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. Each exam costs $185.
In order to best be prepared to pass either a licensing or certification exam, completion of a massage therapy program is essential.