National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork

National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork

What Is the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork?

You thought about law school a few times but your heart keeps saying “massage school is for me.”  If you’ve felt this emotion frequently, it’s probably because you’ve always felt deep inside that physical health and wellness is a concept you like to share and promote.

The desire to help others runs strong in your veins and massage therapy is certainly one channel that will get you closer to your goal.

Well, if your decision is made, perhaps it’s time to firm up your plans.  Before choosing a massage school, there are considerations that will help narrow your massage school choices and do the prep work required:

If you’ve just finished high school and want to become a massage therapist, strongly consider enrolling in an accredited massage therapy school.  Thirty eight States and the District of Columbia in 2007 have established massage therapy laws that vary.

These States have governing boards that require massage therapists to complete a formal education. After training is complete, they have to take the national certification exam or the State exam.  Depending on the State you live, you need to find out about  (a) licensing, (b) certification and (c) accreditation. Your massage school or your local Department of Labor branch can provide guidelines.

There are about 1,500 massage therapy post-secondary schools, college programs, and training programs across the US.  Courses in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology as well as topics covering organs and tissues, the science of motion and body mechanics are part of the curriculum.

You will also be learning business and ethics.  Many massage schools offer services to graduates in terms of job placement and continuing education.  You can opt for a part-time or full time training program, but expect to spend at least 6-12 months in massage school.

A word about licensing:  when you complete your training program, you may want to take the  National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB).  This test is required by several States before you can practice.

The NCETMB requires proof that you have graduated from a State-approved massage school or will need to see your experience portfolio.  The NCETMB will review these and then decide whether you qualify to take the test.  Note, however that if you live in a geographical area that does not require accredited training massage schools, you don’t need to take this test.

Passing the NCETMB means you can use the Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB) credential, but you will need to renew this every four years.  For you to continue using this credential, you have to perform at least 200 hours of therapeutic massage and also take continuing education courses.

The Department of Labor reported that in recent years, a second program was being introduced – a multi-State examination program.  There is an organization called the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards that offers a licensure program, and many States have adopted this.

So when you start massage school and have plans to practice after graduation, look into the issues of massage therapy licensing and certification months before you graduate.  By knowing what is expected of you, you can gain an advantage by preparing, giving you that confidence to earn that much-deserved license to begin practicing!


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