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MSSG 1005 /1013 / 2014 SO: Careers and Certification

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Career Information

Certification & Organizations

National Certification Resources Online

National Certification--Suspended as of December 31, 2012 for new applicants

For the past 20 years, National Certification was the highest credential available in the massage profession and has served as the cornerstone of a successful career. However, effective January 1, 2013, the National Certification was retired and the Board Certification credential replaced it as the highest credential available to the profession. 

National Certification could only have been attained through December 31, 2012, (or may be maintained through December 31, 2016, for those who recertified by December 31, 2012). 

Board Certification

A Higher Credential is Needed in the Industry
NCBTMB originally created a certification to support therapists in achieving excellence through licensure. Today, as we continue our mission to define and advance the highest standards in the massage therapy and bodywork profession, we are going beyond basic certification to allow you to demonstrate a much higher level of achievement. NCBTMB and other stakeholders in the profession recognize the massage industry is at an interesting crossroads. Many therapists are practicing under stringent standards similar to other health care providers. However, there also has been a deterioration of standards necessary to uphold quality programs. In addition, fraudulent and illegal activity, such as human trafficking also exists, undermining our efforts. We believe the best way to establish greater credibility for therapists is to raise standards.

Board Certification Creates a New Standard
On January 1, 2013, we launched a new credential, Board Certification. This new credential requires fulfilling additional qualifications, including more education, hands-on experience and a background check. Therapists achieving this credential will have the proper foundation to better serve their clients and demonstrate a commitment to raising the standards of the profession that have remained stagnant for the past 20 years. Achievement of Board Certification is the highest attainable credential level in the profession. As in other professions, Board Certification will be an additional differentiator for you as you advance through your career. NCBTMB will actively publicize this credential along with those who attain it.

Benefits of Board Certification
  • Represents the highest standard in the field
  • Communicates a commitment to safe, ethical practice
  • Provides a competitive edge
  • Gains visibility and credibility
  • Increases employment opportunities within/between states
  • Reassures clients and employers that you are committed to excellence in your professional development and conduct
  • Includes a listing in NCBTMB’s Find a Practitioner resource
  • Will be highly promoted and publicized—at the individual and collective levels—by NCBTMB
  • Reinforces and underscores practitioners as healthcare providers on par with other professionals requiring certification
  • Requirements for this credential were established by practitioners within the field to uphold a high standard of excellence. For more information read the Massage Therapists Job Analysis Study

How to Achieve Board Certification

There are two ways to achieve the Board Certification credential.

  • Meet the requirements below or
  • Keep an active National Certification through timely recertification and meet the requirements below. 
    In this case, you may be able to transition to the Board Certification credential without taking the new exam.

Board Certification Requirements

To achieve the Board Certification designation, practitioners must:
  • Pass the Board Certification exam (the exam may be taken twice within a six-month period, with a 45-day wait between sittings).
    • $250 for new applicants
    • $225 for applicants who have taken the NCBTMB test for state licensure
  • Complete a minimum of 750 hours of education (includes the core program and subsequently completed continuing education) ***
  • Complete 250 hours of professional hands-on experience over no less than six months from graduation
  • Pass a thorough national background check
  • Obtain a current CPR certification
  • Affirm their commitment to the NCBTMB Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Commit to opposing Human Trafficking

*** The Board Certification Credential does not accept transcripts or allow education from a school whose NCBTMB assigned school code was not in good standing with NCBTMB as of January 01, 2013.

Portfolio Review for Board Certification

For individuals who do not meet these eligibility requirements, there is an alternative known as Portfolio Review. This process allows applicants to demonstrate that they have the educational equivalent to the standard eligibility requirements.