So, you’re thinking about a career as a massage therapist?
Well, that’s awesome!
You are in good company. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the massage therapist workforce is currently made up of 160,300 people in the United States.
And don’t worry, there is plenty of room for you to find a steady job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 42,100 new massage therapist jobs are expected in the next few years.
Let us cover the initial steps on this exciting career path together so you can get a better understanding of what you’re getting into.
We are talking here about your career for possibly the next 10 years, at the very least, and even the rest of your life. That is exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.
Let’s get to it then.
How do you become a massage therapist?
Massage therapists typically complete a postsecondary education program of 500 or more hours of study and experience, although standards and requirements vary greatly by state or jurisdiction. Most states regulate massage therapy and require massage therapists to get a license or certification by passing an exam like the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx).
For more information, read How to Become a Massage Therapist.
What type of schooling does a massage therapist need?
Massage therapists typically complete a postsecondary education program of 500 or more hours of study and experience, although standards and requirements vary greatly by state or jurisdiction. Most states regulate massage therapy and require massage therapists to have a license or certification.
Education requirements for massage therapists vary greatly by state or locality. Education programs are typically offered by private or public postsecondary institutions. Most programs require at least 500 hours of study for their completion; some programs may even require 1,000 or more hours.
A high school diploma or equivalent is usually required for admission to a massage therapy program. Programs generally include both classroom study and hands-on practice of massage techniques. Programs cover subjects such as anatomy; physiology, which is the study of organs and tissues; kinesiology, which is the study of motion and body mechanics; pathology, which is the study of disease; business management; and ethics.
Programs may concentrate on certain modalities, or specialties, of massage. Several programs also offer job placement services and continuing education. Both full-time and part-time programs are available.
What are the types of certifications and requirements needed to become a licensed massage therapist (LMT)?
In 2016, 45 states and the District of Columbia regulated massage therapy. Although not all states license massage therapy, they may have regulations at the local level.
In states with massage therapy regulations, workers must get a license or certification before practicing massage therapy. State regulations typically require graduation from an approved massage therapy program and passing an exam like the MBLEx.
The exam may be a state-specific exam or the MBLEx, which is offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB).
Massage therapists may also need to pass a background check, have liability insurance, and be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Many states require massage therapists to complete continuing education credits and to renew their license periodically. Those wishing to practice massage therapy should look into legal requirements for the state and locality in which they intend to practice.
How long does it take to become a massage therapist?
- Education – Most massage therapy programs require at least 500 hours of study for their completion; some programs require 1,000 or more hours.
- Certification & License – You’ll need 2 hours to complete the MBLEx.
- Continuing Education – Many states require massage therapists to complete continuing education credits (i.e., 16 hours of continuing education every 2 years) and to renew their license periodically. Check with your state for requirements.
- Other – Massage therapists may also need to pass a background check, have liability insurance, and be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Those wishing to practice massage therapy should look into legal requirements for the state and locality in which they intend to practice.
How much does it cost to become a massage therapist?
- Massage therapy school – $6,000 to $10,000
- This depends on the school and the number of hours of training you take. Schooling prices range from $6 to $17 a credit hour. States that require massage therapy licensing may require more hours of schooling before you are eligible to practice, which will affect the cost of the program.
- According to Naturalhealers.com:
“Most states with massage licensing criteria commonly require between 500 to 600 hours of massage therapy training. This equates to a tuition range of between $6,000 and $10,000 for your certificate.”
- According to datausa.io, tuition costs for Massage Therapy majors are, on average, $3,604 for in-state public colleges and $12,729 for out of state private colleges. The largest share of institutions with Massage Therapy programs are private for-profit, less-than 2-year institutions.
- MBLEx testing fee – $195.00
What is the MBLEx?
The MBLEx is governed by the FSMTB. It is designed to provide a standard examination for students of massage therapy for an entry-level professional scope of practice.
How many questions are on the MBLEx?
There are 100 multiple-choice questions on the MBLEx.
What are the categories on the MBLEx?
The approximate distribution of topics tested on the MBLEx is:
- Anatomy & Physiology – 11%
- Kinesiology – 12%
- Pathology, Contraindications, Areas of Caution, Special Population – 14%
- Benefits and Physiological Effects of Techniques that Manipulate Soft Tissue – 15%
- Client Assessment, Reassessment, and Treatment Planning – 17%
- Ethics, Boundaries, Laws, and Regulations – 16%
- Guidelines for Professional Practice – 15%
How long does the MBLEx typically last?
You will have two (2) hours to complete the MBLEx on a computer.
What is the passing grade needed for MBLEx?
You will not be given a numerical score after completing the exam. Instead, you will be given either a PASS or a FAIL.
How many times can you take the MBLEx?
There is no upper limit to the number of times a candidate may take the MBLEx. However, to retake the examination after thirty (30) days have elapsed from the previous examination appointment, candidates who have failed the MBLEx once or candidates who were not permitted access to the MBLEx for any reason must reapply online or mail in the MBLEx application form and fee.