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An Association of Massage Therapists


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What are Massage Licensing, Certification, and Accreditation?

Knowing your massage therapist has reliable and credible credentials assures you that they have met the standards of the massage profession. It’s important for you to trust that the therapist who will be touching you is qualified and competent. The major credentials for the massage therapy profession are licensing, certification, education and training, and membership in a professional association.

Licensing is regulated by either a state or local government. In Nevada, the State of Nevada Board of Massage Therapy issues licenses while in California licensing is locally regulated. Licenses are issued based on completion of an accredited 200 - 500 hour course of study. In most states and local municipalities it is illegal to perform massage or use a title indicating that an individual performs massage without licensing.

Massage therapists as is the case for many other professions. Once certain standards of education, training, and experience are met, individuals are eligible to take the exam administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, NCBTMB. Only those who have passed the national certification exam are entitled to use the designation “Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork” and the initials, NCTMB. Continuing education is required to maintain certification.

Education and Training: Standards for education and training do vary. A minimum of 500 hours is recommended, with a curriculum that includes anatomy, physiology, applied anatomy and kinesiology, connective tissue, positional release, reflexology, sports massage, acupressure, Shiatsu, polarity, myofascial release, trigger points, energy techniques, pre-natal massage, lymphatic drainage, clinical application, hydrotherapy, business and professional ethics, pathology, and practical experience.

Professional Associations: An indication of professional preparation and accountability is membership in a professional organization that requires meeting meaningful standards. One association that upholds high standards of professionalism is the American Massage Therapy Association, AMTA, by requiring that an individual pass the national certification exam, graduate from an accredited school, or hold a license in an approved state or governmental body. To maintain AMTA membership an individual must complete continuing education requirements and uphold a code of ethics.


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