For massage therapists who wish to advance their careers and build up the good reputation necessary for success in this field, voluntary certification is a smart decision that can earn better employment, higher pay and greater overall success in the field of massage therapy.
Graduates of massage therapy programs can become nationally certified by taking one of two certifying exams:
- The National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB)
- The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)
These exams provide massage therapists with a “stamp of approval,” assuring potential clients and employers that you are competent and possess the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to work as a professional massage therapist. Massage therapists who have passed one of these exams are more likely to earn clients, steady employment and a solid reputation.
The NCETMB Certification Exam for Massage Therapists
In most of the states that regulate massage therapy, the NCETMB is mandatory, so check your state’s requirements to determine your course of action.
The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), the administrative body that hosts the exam, has 2 requirements for eligibility:
- Graduation from a state-approved massage therapy program (if your state requires massage therapy program approval), or
- Evidence of training experience that is sufficient to prove your competency
After you’re certified, you must renew the certification every four years to prove your continued competence and that you have kept up with modern advances and legal shifts in the field. In order to remain certified, a therapist must perform at least 200 hours of therapeutic massage in the workplace and take 48 hours of continuing education massage classes (plus six hours of ethics) within that four-year span.
The MBLEx Certification Exam for Massage Therapists
A license from the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), the agency that hosts the MBLEx, is also acceptable in some states, although it is less widely recognized than the NCBTMB certification. Anyone can apply to take the exam.
The states that currently accept the MBLEx for licensure are:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Requirements to gain this licensure vary from state to state, so check your state’s requirements before deciding to take this exam.