When seeking out the right school to attend, many prospective students are unaware of the importance of choosing only from accredited massage therapy schools.
While other schools may seem like a great fit for some students, the truth is that they may end up wasting tons of time and money. In many cases, only those who attend accredited massage schools will be able to receive the licenses necessary to practice massage after graduation. The accreditation process protects students and the public in a number of ways, and it is definitely in a student’s best interest to ensure that his or her school has received this accreditation.
What Is Accreditation?
Accredited massage therapy schools voluntarily undergo a review process. In fact, they even initiate the process. An outside agency will do an evaluation of the school based on several predetermined criteria. For example, they will want to ensure that the educational quality of the school meets specific standards. They also look at whether or not the school’s operations are consistent and consider any improvements the school is making.
In order to become accredited, a massage school must be reviewed by an organization that has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. These include:
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)
- Accrediting Commission of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
- Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
- Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA)
- Council on Occupational Education (COE)
- National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS)
Why Is Accreditation Important?
The accreditation process is actually fairly lengthy and expensive for the school, and it adds additional work and administration. This might make one ask why institutions feel it is worthwhile to become accredited. There are several advantages that accredited massage schools enjoy, and opening themselves up to scrutiny is the only way to get these benefits.
One of the biggest reasons that a school will seek accreditation is because it adds credibility to their programs. Prospective students know that when they attend accredited massage therapy schools, they are going to get an education that meets strict guidelines. In addition, only accredited massage schools can offer federal financial aid. Being able to offer this type of assistance means that a school will appeal to a wider audience and can attract more students than one that has not been accredited.
Additionally, there are private lenders who will only provide funding for students attending an accredited massage school, because they feel that their money is less likely to be wasted.
Other Considerations Related to Accreditation
Not all of the institutions that a prospective student considers will be accredited massage therapy schools. Some schools choose not to pursue accreditation for various reasons. For example, some find that the added work and expense would require them to raise tuition, and they want to keep their costs low to attract more students. Not only that, but some states do not require students to graduate from accredited massage schools in order to qualify for licenses and certifications. It may be helpful for prospective students to look into the laws and requirements governing the state where they intend to practice.
Of course, it is impossible to know if those regulations will change in the future, requiring already practicing massage therapists to return to school to be in compliance. They should also consider that if they choose to pursue further education, the school they attend may not recognize the credits earned at a massage therapy school that was not accredited.
They type of massage a student wishes to practice, as well as the environment in which it will be performed, can also affect the type of school he or she attends. For example, those who wish to work in a hospital setting may not get all they need from even the best accredited massage therapy schools. Instead, they may be required to earn a nursing degree.
The fact that a school is not accredited does not mean that it can’t offer a quality education. Unfortunately, even the best education can be rendered worthless for those who live in states where it is necessary to attend accredited massage therapy schools to be eligible for licensing. The very fact that an institution has opened itself up to the accreditation process shows not only that it intends to have staying power, but also that it has its students’ best interests in mind.