Required Massage Therapist Certification or Licensure:
If an individual is considering a career in massage therapy, he or she will need to understand the requirements for being licensed in the state of residence. Almost every state has regulations pertaining to what type of training one must have and most require the individual to be licensed by an accredited program or school. Even if this is not a requirement in one’s particular area, there are still many benefits to attending a licensing program. In addition to this, many places will not hire massage therapists who do not have some amount of training, no matter what the state regulations currently are.
Accredited programs or schools are those that have been accredited or approved by the correct governing bodies. These governing bodies can include the United States Department of Education, the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation, or the American Massage Therapy Association. These are not the only institutions that have the power to accredit schools, but any other institution should be approved by one of these.
A good program will require students to complete anywhere from 500 to 1000 hours of in class, supervised learning. The amount of hours required should be based on the requirements of one’s particular state. Good programs will also prepare the individual to become nationally licensed if he or she wishes to do so.
Most massage therapy students will have to pass some type of exam within their program or school in order to graduate from the program and begin practicing massage therapy. This, however, is not the same as becoming nationally licensed. To receive a national license, an individual must take a very specific test. Passing this test will enable the individual to practice massage therapy throughout the entire United States and will provide the individual with a great deal of credibility.
Most schools will provide the appropriate information on becoming nationally licensed. Some students may choose to test for their national license immediately after graduating from the program, while others will wait until they have some real life experience. There are benefits and downsides to both of these. Those who seek licensure right away have the benefit of having all the information learned fresh in their minds, though they lack actual real life experience. The opposite problem affects those who wait, so it really is a toss up as to which course of action is better. Most schools will advise taking the exam right away and then, if one does not pass, waiting a while and gaining experience before trying again.
It is always up to the individual how far he or she wishes to take the massage therapy career. Some people are perfectly happy with working part time or with using massage therapy as a way to supplement their income or even as a hobby. Others wish to make a full time, life long career out of it. What one does with his or her training is a decision that the individual will have to make, but it is imperative for students to give themselves the best possible education so that they have this choice.