The massage and bodywork profession has grown in recent years to nearly 300,000 practitioners and massage therapy students across the United States. In 49 states and territories, these practitioners are required to be licensed or certified to practice, meaning they have the competence to safely practice on public consumers. If the practitioner is licensed, it is likely that they have completed education and training in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and the basic types of massage. Additionally, they have likely been required to pass the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) to prove their competence.

Licensure exists to ensure the protection of the public. Massage therapists provide treatment to clients through the use of touch to manipulate soft tissue of the body. Massage therapists seek to relieve pain, improve one’s circulation, relieve stress, help in the rehabilitation of injuries and support the general wellness of their clients.

This profession is regulated differently in each state/territory. While most states require both education and a successful MBLEx score for a practitioner to gain licensure, there are some that only require either the education or the exam element for licensure. States/territories also vary in their requirements of the number of education hours required to practice or even their requirements for license renewal through continuing education. In some, continuing education is not required to continue practicing on the public.

Additionally, some states/territories attempt to regulate the profession through voluntary certification. Oftentimes, these voluntary certification requirements amount to the same requirements found in entry-level licensure, educational and examination components. However, in voluntary certification jurisdictions, it is entirely voluntary as to whether or not a practitioner decides to obtain such classification. While it is encouraged, some practitioners will choose not to acquire this certification due to their lack of appropriate knowledge of the massage and bodywork field. Consequently, we encourage any public consumer to check out your state/territory’s requirements for licensure or voluntary certification and ensure your practitioner has the appropriate credentials to practice safely on the public.

The FSMTB wants to ensure that public consumers of massage and bodywork services have adequate knowledge about what it means to be a massage and bodywork practitioner so as to aid in the experience of seeking treatment. Most importantly, FSMTB wants to ensure that the public is aware of the requirements for licensure for each state and that resources are available to check the license status of your practitioner. For more information, please visit your state’s licensing board or agency.