As is the case for many healthcare careers, training and licensing requirements vary greatly by state. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most training programs require a high school diploma or equivalent, and consist of 500 hours of coursework. Courses include anatomy, kinesiology, (the study of motion and body mechanics), physiology, and the hands-on practice of massage techniques. Also, some business management and ethics classes may also be included.
Most states regulate massage therapy and require certification or license of some type. As of 2014, 45 states and DC regulate the industry of massage therapy.
In states that do require certification, certification usually includes passing an exam. The exam could be a state exam or one of the national exams, depending on the state regulations. The two national exams are the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB) and the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). The MBLEx is offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.
As is the case for most health professions, ongoing continuing education is typically required by most regulating bodies. Due to the variation in requirements from state to state, be sure to contact the state board in the state where you wish to practice to obtain the complete list of requirements.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of massage therapy is projected to grow by 22 percent, adding about 36,500 jobs in the ten year period from 2014-2024. This is considered “much faster than average” job growth as compared to other careers.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Massage Therapists, on the Internet (visited April 30, 2016).