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Massage Therapy Schools: Choosing the Right Education

To start a career in massage therapy, you first need to obtain the right education.

There are multiple factors to consider when looking for a massage therapy school.

Some are essential to be eligible for licensing.

Others are not as critical but can help you make a good start in your career.

Massage Therapy School Accreditations and Approvals

First, you need to consider the state regulations for licensing.

It’s essential that the program operates legitimately in the state where it’s based.

Some states provide a list of approved programs, including both in-state and out-of-state schools.

Others require the program to be approved in its jurisdiction.

It may be easier for you to get a license if your program is accredited nationally.

Massage therapy programs are nationally accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA).

However, other nationally recognized agencies can accredit health programs and trade schools.

In any instance, the accrediting agency should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

You should also consider if the Massage Training Therapy program is approved.

Technically, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork isn’t an accrediting agency.

But the NCBTMB approval can be essential.

The NCBTMB offers a prestigious certification.

It can’t be a replacement for state licensing, but it can help you demonstrate that you have met the requirements beyond those necessary for the initial licensing.

Typically, massage therapists should graduate for an approved school with a code assigned by the NCBTMB.

If you graduate from a school without the assigned code, it doesn’t mean you will never be able to receive the certification.

But you will need to undergo a portfolio review process.

Massage Therapy Program Length

You also need to consider the number of hours in the program.

The duration of the program (in hours or months) is essential for the licensing process.

Many states require 500 hours for licensing, others require more.

Two states require a minimum of 1,000 hours to qualify for a license.

In many states, graduates of the programs featuring 500 hours are allowed to make up the difference in a post-graduate course, which can add to the time.


Some things you can expect from an accredited or approved massage therapy school and program.

They include coursework in related sciences, such as physiology, anatomy, or common pathologies.

The programs usually provide some introduction to business practices and professional ethics.

If a program has the NCBTMB-assigned code, it meets the minimum industry standards in the most critical areas.

However, it’s doesn’t guarantee that you will meet the state-board curriculum requirements.

The NCBTMB requires only 200 hours of hands-on education, while some states require more.

Programs with NCBTMB-assigned codes may include 125 hours of coursework that “theoretically complete” the program.

Theoretical orientations can be different in various schools and meet the standards set by credentialing agencies.

Some of them may include Eastern theory and technique, for example.

The amount of clinical work offered by a school can also vary as well as the setting where it takes place.

In some states, externships are required, which take place in a different setting from the student clinic.

They may take place only after you complete a particular number of hours of education.

You may even be required to meet the curricular requirements for the license.

With extra clinical experience, it will also be easier to join the professional world.

Other Considerations

The curriculum can be similar in different schools, but they are not identical.

You can also take into consideration program reputation, instructor qualifications, pass rates on national examinations.

You can also find out for how long has the program been around.

A lot of massage therapy schools are quite new and not all of them still operate.

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