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Is everyone aware of these new guidelines? I guess I'm lucky that I friended a local massage school on FB who posted this article. Here's the shortened version:

The Board Certification credential will be available to individuals meeting the following criteria.

  • Passing the Board Certification exam.
  • 750 hours of education.
  • A minimum of 250 hours of hands-on work experience. Up to 25 hours of community service may be credited toward this requirement.
  • Successful completion of a criminal background check.
  • Commitment to adhere to our Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
  • Additional qualifications for this credential will be determined based on feedback from the profession.

The only path to achieving the board certification credential is to satisfy the above criteria.

If you graduated from a program with fewer than 750 hours of education, you will need to complete continuing education for the difference. These courses must meet NCB's definition of continuing education and be taken from an NCB assigned school, an NCB approved provider or an accredited college or university.

Currently Nationally Certified Massage Therapists

Current Nationally Certified Massage Therapists, to achieve Board Certification, will need to meet the new Board Certification eligibility criteria as of their next recertification date. Passing the Board Certification exam will not be required.


They state in the article that this was based on feedback from the profession. Am I the only one that thinks existing therapists should be grandfathered in?  I am LIVID. I worked 2 jobs to be able to put myself through school. Now, I have 3 kids and can barely afford to get my CEU's, much less over 200 friggin hours of coursework. Was it really their goal to boot thousands of therapists out of the field who cannot afford (or simply do not have the time) to go back to school for that many hours? Or was this 'professional input' coming from school owners scheming to make more money off of us? 

They also state  "There are therapists practicing under stringent standards similar to other health care providers, and then there is illegal and fraudulent activity undermining all of our efforts. Williams believes the best way to establish greater credibility for therapists is by raising standards."

In my opinion, it will not matter if you make us get so much education that we have a damned Dr. in front of our names. As long as there are still illegitimate people claiming to be massage therapists, they will still undermine all of our efforts and education.

Does anyone else feel the same way, or would anyone like to explain the reasoning behind this nonsense?

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Aloha Jennifer,

I  understand your being LIVID. Yes, you've worked hard to get to where you are at now, and you have many responsibilities.  I also understand the NCBTMB's point of view as well.  As an organization they have a goal and are taking specific steps to achieve it.

It may help to remember that practicing massage without being NCBTMB approved is perfectly legal.  From the numbers I see, less than half of all licenced therapists in the USA are currently NCBTMB nationally certified. You can drop your certification with them if you choose to.  If you do choose to continue your certification, you have at least 4 years to meet their requirement.  You have however much time remains until your recertification is due plus 4 years of inactive status, if you apply for it, during which you can still practice massage and can still identify yourself as NCBTMB certified.

I am not personally NCBTMB certified, though I am approved by NCBTMB to teach continuing education classes.  Not being personally certified has not limited my career in any way.


I hope this helps.


Barbara Helynn Heard

The intent is to create a post-graduate credential that actually has some meaning. I personally think it is a great thing. And no, existing therapists should not be grandfathered in. They are being given the time to come into compliance. This is a voluntary credential that no one is required to have.

Since National Certification has previously been used for entry-level licensing purposes and the MBLEx has come along and nearly blown it out of the water, it has lost meaning. This move by the NCBTMB will restore meaning to being Nationally Certified and differentiate therapists who have gone above and beyond from those who just got licensed and haven't yet had time, experience in the field, and continuing education. I have been advocating raising standards for a long time and am very glad to see this happen.

Jennifer, NCBTMB is not "booting" anyone out of the profession with the introduction of the new Board Certification credential. It is a voluntary credential that will represent a symbol of excellence for those who choose to achieve it. It does require a higher level of education and hands-on work experience because it is meant to distinguish therapists with a greater level of knowledge and experience from those just entering the profession. Continuing education does take time and money, so it may take more time for some people to achieve Board Certification.

Thanks for the replies. When I posted this, the fact that this certification was not required by all therapists inconveniently escaped me.

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