How to Become a Licensed Massage Therapist in 2021

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Are you interested in learning how to become a licensed massage therapist? You are not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook is expected to grow by 21 percent over the next ten years, a figure that far exceeds those predicted for other professions.

That growth is attributed mainly to a growing acceptance of holistic health practices. What was once considered a luxury service is increasingly incorporated into everyday wellness routines. An aging population has also helped increase demand for good masseurs. 

Below, we’ll look deeper into what it takes to become a licensed massage therapist.


4 Tips To Becoming a Licensed Massage Therapist

1. Find the Right Massage Therapy Program for You

As of 2019, there were over 245 accredited massage therapy programs across the United States. As per the standards set by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), these programs offer a minimum of 500 in-class hours to ensure the highest quality massage therapy education.

You’ll have to consider a few different factors to determine which massage therapy school is best for you. Tuition and fees usually rank high on this list. You may also want to inquire about the availability of financial aid and continuing education opportunities.

Remember, it’s important to incorporate the costs of books and supplies when calculating your school budget.

Make an impact in people’s lives by addressing both body and soul through the manipulation of muscles. Request more information about the Professional Massage Therapy program at ICOHS College.

Next, you’ll want to get a better sense of the school’s philosophy. Find out what types of massage therapy they specialize in and determine if these align with your professional goals. 

Then, you can start looking into course schedules. Think about the time requirements involved. Does it afford you the ability to tend to exist responsibilities and practice during off-hours?

You should also research the school faculty. Look into their credentials. You can also request additional information about students’ resources, from tutoring services to job placement and more. 

If you really want to find out just what kind of education the program offers, you can even book an appointment with faculty, graduates, or someone from the student clinic. That way, you’ll know exactly what kind of skills the program provides. 

2. Complete All Practical Requirements

Practical Requirements for Licensed Massage Therapy

Practical requirements for massage therapists vary depending on state laws, but they generally revolve around a high school diploma, maintaining a minimum GPA throughout a program that lasts at least six months full time, or 12 months part-time (some massage therapy programs may take up to 15 months to complete). 

Apprenticeship experience may also be required for experience working on real clients. You’ll learn about different massage techniques and concepts during this stage, including orthopedics, trigger points, and palpation techniques.

You may also pursue specialty areas like Swedish massage, aromatherapy, oriental medicine, acupuncture, and sports massage. Graduates will then be eligible to take and pass an approved massage therapy exam.

The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination ( MBLEx), administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), is one of the most commonly accepted exams within the United States, though the National Certification Examination, administered by the Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BTMB), is also widely recognized. 

3. Get Licensed

Not all states enforce licensure requirements, including the state of California, though it is often recommended. 

Passing your licensing examination demonstrates mastery in the subject and can help inspire trust among clients. Earning this credential is also a great way to stand out to potential employers and demonstrate your commitment to the practice. 

Experts believe that professional licensing helps enhance public safety standards and ensures worker competency across the field. Today, over 40 states issue massage therapy licenses.

If you’re located in a state that does require professional licensing, you should check with your state’s licensing board. Make sure they accept scores from the massage therapy exam you took after graduating from your specific program. 

Additional requirements may include obtaining a certain level of liability insurance, passing a background check, and application fees. 

4. Get Certified

Massage therapy certifications are also a great way to demonstrate a continued commitment to the field. These programs are voluntary, and requirements may vary from state to state. 

Residents of California, for instance, can apply for their massage therapy license online from the California Massage Therapy Council. The organization has been certifying massage schools since 2016. 

Applications must be completed by individuals 18 years or older along with a $200 fee, criminal background check, official transcripts from your massage school, and copies of your state-issued identification. 

Licensing vs. Certification

massage therapy licenses vs. certifications

The main difference between massage therapy licenses vs. certifications revolves around the level of education and training involved. Licensed massage therapists must undergo much more formal instruction than those who are certified in the field. 

As far as qualifying standards go, licensure is the more desirable credential. There are, however, certain perks to certification. These programs are more widely available and affordable for applicants. They also provide proof of the knowledge and training needed to pursue higher-paying positions. 

It’s also important to emphasize that certifications are voluntary. It is a legal requirement to obtain a license in states that mandate the credential. 

Learn More About the Massage Therapy Program at ICOHS College

Learn to become a massage therapist at ICOHS college! Our Professional Massage Therapist diploma program is a California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) approved school as recognized by the state of California. Program courses include the following subjects:

  • Fundamentals of Massage
  • Kinesiology and Client Assessment
  • Anatomy and Deep Tissue
  • Eastern Modalities
  • Western Modalities
  • Body Systems, Pathology, and Special Populations
  • Career Development

Students will receive bodywork techniques and therapeutic massage methods designed to relieve pain and improve the overall health and wellness of their clients. They’ll also undergo classroom experiences to learn all necessary medical terminology and prepare for the state licensing exam. 

After leaving our programs, students can find promising career opportunities at massage therapy clinics, spas and resorts, cruise ships, holistic health centers, and more. Students may also open up their own business or work as independent contractors. 


How long does it take to become a certified massage therapist?

Massage professionals must complete at least 500 hours of in-class instruction. The time it takes to satisfy these requirements depends on your course schedule and whether you are a full or part-time student. Massage therapy training programs can take as little as six months or up to 15 months to complete.

Can you make good money as a massage therapist?

According to the BLS, massage therapists earn a median annual salary of $43,620, with the lowest 10 percent of earners making around  $22,500 per year and the top 10 percent more than $79,150.

The top pay states for massage therapists are Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.  Additionally, it is not uncommon for massage therapists to take on private clients as independent contractors for supplemental income. 

Can I become a licensed massage therapist online?

Currently, there are no schools that offer massage therapy programs in California exclusively online. Given the nature of the profession, most state massage therapy boards require some kind of hands-on training before massage therapists can practice body mechanics on real clients.

The California Massage Therapy Council issues certifications to massage professionals that meet state requirements, but these are strictly voluntary.

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