Requirements to Becoming a Massage Therapist

Technical Requirements to Becoming a Massage Therapist

A career in massage therapy is a rewarding way to earn a living. Scientific knowledge is used during this manipulation of muscles and their connecting tissue. Body tissues receive oxygen and other essential nutrients, improving circulation. Muscle tightness and pain is relieved, mobility and flexibility are increased, and the body is freed of lactic acid and other waste that creates pain and stiffness.

There is much to learn before a person can officially be called a massage therapist. To receive massage therapist licensing and begin working in this field, an individual must undergo a certain amount of training, pass a competency exam, and submit a license application to the relevant state licensing body. A school for cosmetology may offer an educational program in massage therapy or the education may be received at a school dedicated to massage therapy.
Training Hours Required for Massage Therapists

A license is required to practice as a massage therapist in most states. An individual must go through between 500 and 1,000 hours of related training, depending on the state. Some states, like Iowa, do not have reciprocity with any other state. This means that individuals who received their education at out-of-state schools must provide evidence that their training was comparable to that required by the state in which licensing is being sought.

State licensing boards or agencies that oversee massage therapist licensing can change the educational requirements at any time. In Iowa, the requirement was recently increased from 500 to 600 hours, requiring educational institutions to modify their curricula accordingly. Massage therapist education includes both theory and hands-on training. When individuals complete the program, they have the knowledge and skills needed to start their own massage therapy practice.
What is Included in a School for Cosmetology or Massage Therapist School Curriculum

Most educational programs regarding massage therapy include an emphasis on holistic health. Students also learn about the human body, including the various systems and processes. As they move into the massage-specific portion of the curriculum, students learn about various massage techniques and how to apply them. Instruction regarding professional behavior expected of a massage therapist is also provided.

Between their formal learning and hands-on practice, graduates of an approved massage therapy program at a school for cosmetology or massage therapist school are equipped to begin working in this career field. They have the amount and type of education needed to comply with the requirements imposed by state licensing agencies. Before they may apply for massage therapist licensing, they must apply for, take, and pass an examination.
Massage Therapist Testing

After graduating from an accredited massage therapist school, an individual must pass either the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (MBLEx) exam or National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Body Work (NCETMB). State licensing agencies determine which test is required for massage therapist licensing.

The MBLEx exam is comprised of 125 multiple-choice questions that must be answered within 2.5 hours. The exam fee for the MBLEx is currently $195. The NCE includes 160 multiple-choice questions that must be answered in 2 hours, 40 minutes and the exam fee is currently $225. The passing score for the MBLEx exam is 630 and for the NCE exam, a scaled score of 300 is considered passing.
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