Massage Therapy License Requirements
National Certification Exam
First, to receive your massage therapy license in most of the United States, you will be required to take and pass an exam in addition to meeting other criteria. This exam is usually the NCE (National Certification Exam) which is offered by the National Certification Board for Massage and Bodywork.
A massage therapist who has passed this exam is certain to have the skills that are compatible with the national standards which offer security to the massage therapist, the employer, and the public for whom they will be performing massage therapy services.
In addition, there are educational requirements that you must meet prior to taking the exam and becoming eligible for licensure. In addition, you may need to have a specific amount of experience and training, and have the ability to demonstrate certain skills in addition to your knowledge of the practice, depending on your state.
State Licensure Requirements
Massage therapy license requirements vary from state to state. Naturally, you will want to consider your state's requirements when searching for a school where you will obtain your educational requirements for licensure. You will need to get a score of 300 to pass the NCE regardless of which state you are living in. This exam is composed of 160 multiple choice questions and you may want to prepare for the exam even though you have completed the educational program. These questions are mostly taken from anatomy and physiology, pathology, business management, kinesiology and ethics and there are numerous study programs available online.
Since the requirements for obtaining your licensure will depend on your state, you should find out what those requirements are before enrolling in an educational program. A few states still do not have massage therapy license requirements although they may be regulated at a local level.
Consider Accreditation when Looking for a Massage Therapy School
Accreditation also varies among the programs offered for massage therapy. Some may be approved by a state board while others are accredited by an independent agency. If you live in a state that regulates the field of massage therapy, then you should be certain that a particular program is acceptable to your state's requirements before enrolling. Not only might you be required to complete a program from an approved school, you may also be required by your state to continue your education to keep you current once your license is awarded.
Choosing a Program
When searching for the right program to meet your educational requirements, you may find that private or public colleges or other postsecondary educational institutions have programs for massage therapy. Most of them will require you to have a high school diploma or GED before being admitted. You may find programs that are both part and full time but many will require you to attend 500 hours or more before successfully completing them.
In addition to the educational and examination requirements for obtaining licensure for massage therapy, there are also some personal traits that are important to making an individual a good candidate for becoming a massage therapist. You should have good communication skills and a friendly, outgoing personality. Feeling empathy for your clients is another important attribute that will make it easier to develop a relationship and build a reputation as a good therapist. If you have the skills to put your clients at ease, they will be happy to see you and will also recommend you to others.
The advancement opportunities for massage therapists are few. You may have the opportunity to advance to management or to teach others in massage therapy but there may be additional educational or licensing requirements that you must meet to do so. If you are happy with the position you have, you may prefer to gain experience and expand your client base in order to be as successful as possible and increase your earning potential. You also have the option of starting your own business. Being a massage therapist can be a rewarding career for the right person who enjoys caring for others.