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I'm aggravated about the Massage therapist regulations of each state. It would really be nice if all states were regulated and that state to state certifications/licenses were a bit easier to transfer. I originally graduated and practiced in a state that had no regulations (PA). Even though I have a certificate in Massage Therapy, CEUS, and my NCTMB, I still find it difficult to practice in several states due to the inability to qualify for state licensure. I am just curious to see what other people have gone through and their thoughts about this problem that I'm sure many therapists have gone through or are in the process of going through. Thanks :)

Tags: certification, regulations

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Holly, I don't see this situation changing drastically any time soon. Although one of the intentions of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards is to make licensure more portable, the extreme variance in the educational requirements of the states is a deterrent to making that totally possible.

Since some of the states require twice as much education as others, or even more in a few instances, the only way to rectify this is by ALL states agreeing to the same thing. Those states that require 1000 hours aren't about to lower their standards, and the ones that only require 500 are reticent to raise theirs...I do think there's a trend towards raising it, but it will be a slow process as it will cost school owners money and add to their workload to implement longer programs, and some will never do it as long as the law doesn't require it.

I have had to straighten a lot of students out over the years to the fact that "national certification" does not mean you can go anywhere and do massage. It just means you've met a minimum standard. I know therapists who have packed up and moved somewhere with the mistaken belief they could set up shop, only to have a rude awakening. Anyone who is considering moving anywhere should always check out the laws in the state you are thinking of moving to before making any plans regarding your ability to practice massage therapy.
Laura stated: "have had to straighten a lot of students out over the years to the fact that "national certification" does not mean you can go anywhere and do massage. It just means you've met a minimum standard."

I knew this before I took my NCETMB, but I still chose to complete it because I was living between two states that had no regulation. Indiana just released their state certification, which I am in the process of, and Pennsylvania hasn't made their regulations official at this time. I chose to take them to help separate myself from other institutions that were claiming "massage" in lieu of other practices. Even though I have my NCTMB, I have always felt the board was more into the money than the actual regulation of massage. Just like it seems each state certification/license is individualized to the state for their own purpose of making money. If regulation was actually nationalized than each state would lose the money they were gaining from each applicant. It just makes it more difficult for the rest of us who are trying to practice, but are unable to move their practices to other states when their family is in the need of relocating. I find it to be unfortunate.

Laura Allen said:
Holly, I don't see this situation changing drastically any time soon. Although one of the intentions of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards is to make licensure more portable, the extreme variance in the educational requirements of the states is a deterrent to making that totally possible.

Since some of the states require twice as much education as others, or even more in a few instances, the only way to rectify this is by ALL states agreeing to the same thing. Those states that require 1000 hours aren't about to lower their standards, and the ones that only require 500 are reticent to raise theirs...I do think there's a trend towards raising it, but it will be a slow process as it will cost school owners money and add to their workload to implement longer programs, and some will never do it as long as the law doesn't require it.

I have had to straighten a lot of students out over the years to the fact that "national certification" does not mean you can go anywhere and do massage. It just means you've met a minimum standard. I know therapists who have packed up and moved somewhere with the mistaken belief they could set up shop, only to have a rude awakening. Anyone who is considering moving anywhere should always check out the laws in the state you are thinking of moving to before making any plans regarding your ability to practice massage therapy.
Holly,

I think the new test MBLEx (I think) is a move towards having a standardized test for licensing. You are correct about the NCTMB, it is nothing more than a money making scheme. I never took it as it wasn't required in AZ years ago. I looked at a practice test and some of the questions and said "who cares" to what I was looking at. The practice test had little or nothing to do with the work we do and much to do with cell structure etc. Yeah we had to learn that in Anatomy and Physiology, but it is irrelevant to what we do.

I don't know alot about the MBLEx (???) but it is supported by ABMP and AMTA and the NCTMB is furious over the new test. Someone must be doing something right..

I think Laura is correct that things won't change much too soon. States don't like other states telling them what to do and if the federal gov't were to get involved in our licensure, that would be catastrophic!
I am in Oregon and it has switched to the MBLEX test since July 2008. I took this test and opted not to take the NCTMB. I see that there are 15-20 states going to this new test. Hopefully in the future there will be the one test and we can travel from state to state without having to take more tests. I am an eternal optimist. :)
Dear Holly, Thanks so much for speaking up about this often neglected topic. The lack of portability is an ongoing issue of concern in the massage community. It is a serious and time-consuming problem for instructors as well as providers. There does not seem to be a cohesive effort among the states to create a unified national system for massage therapists and massage educators. Please visit http://www.amtamassage.org/pdf/2006_StateLaws.pdf to obtain a list of state boards and CE requirements. Warmly, Ariana Vincent, Ariana Institute

Laura Allen said:
Holly, I don't see this situation changing drastically any time soon. Although one of the intentions of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards is to make licensure more portable, the extreme variance in the educational requirements of the states is a deterrent to making that totally possible.


Actually, I disagree with this. I think it will take some time, but eventually there will be a national standard that enables reciprocity in all states. As someone else stated, the MBLEx is becoming more widely accepted each year. In my state, Ohio, massage is governed by the state medical board. As a result, schools are teaching to test and are required to use textbooks mandated by the state (because test questions are derived from specific content)--so essentially MDs are determining what is best for massotherapists by writing our code of ethics and regulations, incorporating texts that aren't the best, and generally just are not up to date and informed on our profession. Ohio was also the first state to license massage therapists and has a reputation for having more rigorous programs because of the difficulty of our board exam.

Imagine my surprise when I heard that Ohio will be changing to the MBLEx in 2010-2011! I never expected it to happen but I am thrilled that it will because of portability. Currently Ohio has no reciprocity agreements with neighboring states. It was crazy to see therapists with 10 or 12 years of experience in other states have to attend my program just to get the required number of hours to sit for the Ohio board exam! They can't legally work in their profession until they get licensed here, regardless of their experience. I don't think that's right-especially considering that the MDs governed by the SAME board as I am do not have the same requirements. If they want to practice medicine in Ohio when coming from another state, they just have to apply for the license.

Unfortunately those of us who have taken or will be taking state board exams will not be grandfathered in after the MBLEx is in effect, meaning that we will be spending another $200 to take the test (in my case, only one year after I spent $250 to take the state board exam so that I can be licensed and work in Ohio!).

Wow, that was long--sorry!
The MBLEx, or NCB exam for that matter, is only one small part of the issue. I'm North Carolina's delegate to the FSMTB, and very excited about how much acceptance the MBLEx is getting. I am on the North Carolina Board, and we were the second state to join the Federation.

As I stated in my first post, the intent of the Federation is to make licensure as portable as possible. However, as long as some states require 1000 or more hours and some only 500, that is the real deterrent. The fact that one has passed any exam from any entity will not get them a license where there is a difference in the required hours of education, unless they are moving from a state that requires more hours to a state that requires less hours.

Ohio was the first state to license massage therapists way back in 1916 when no other state had even thought of it, and in the past has been very strict about not even accepting ANY hours from any other state. So it is a great step forward for them to adopt reciprocity. But, they require 750 hours of education, so a graduate from a state that only requires 500 hours will still not be eligible for licensure there, regardless of whether or not they have passed the exam.

It is in no way the intent of the Federation to require someone who is already nationally certified, or who has taken a state-mandated exam, to be required to take the MBLEx on top of that, so I am wondering why Ohio would do that. It seems like an unfair financial burden on their existing licensees.
I know it seems like garbage. Your husband gets a transfer you pack and move the family only to find out that in order to meet that states regulations you have to go to school again. Lame indeed. I went to school in Virginia at the time it was 500 hours of education. I didn't take the Nationals (which in Virginia translates to a low-grade nursing license I think) for whatever personal reasons. A year or two later I was in Buffalo New York looking for a new beginning. I found out that the requirements were higher and I would have to go back to school. Besides my 6 years cashiering experience, massage was the only other trade I had. I went back to school. I decided not to transfer any credits (which because of the difference in programs wouldn't have helped much anyway) I am glad I didn't. I didn't want to ruin the wonderful experience from learning things from a different perspective. New York standards of education are high all across the board. I felt like I was learning it for the first time because it was so much more extensive. My schooling was 1104 hours , 20 hours a week and believe me they took more time then that from me with all the clinics, soap notes, community service, and studying. The boards were a nightmare for me it was a miracle I passed on the first try. A few months later I decided to take the Nationals even though New York doesn't recognize it. I figured out that there are only a few states that have standards higher than New York, so by taking to the Nationals I would be almost limitless. I'm not 100% on that anymore it was what I believed to be true at the time. Anyhow, The reason I went into all that is because I earned that I worked hard for that, there were times I thought it would take my sanity away from me. I understand where you are coming from I do. In order for the whole country to recognize one test the standards of education everywhere would have raise because those states who are high aren't going to lower their standards. Going country wide it would be controlled by the government and become more political and we don't need more people who know nothing of our industry regulating us. We are better off dealing with the crazy legislation/zoning/standards in our own states. If you don't like the state move or lobby with other therapists for change. I don't think it would be impossible to get country wide exam. I just don't think it's as good an idea as it sounds. Sorry to be a nay sayer. I am open to new ideas, this is the stance I have taken for now. My mind can be changed with more understanding.
You're not a naysayer, Laurie--just realistic!

Laurie L. Irlbacher LMT said:
I know it seems like garbage. Your husband gets a transfer you pack and move the family only to find out that in order to meet that states regulations you have to go to school again. Lame indeed. I went to school in Virginia at the time it was 500 hours of education. I didn't take the Nationals (which in Virginia translates to a low-grade nursing license I think) for whatever personal reasons. A year or two later I was in Buffalo New York looking for a new beginning. I found out that the requirements were higher and I would have to go back to school. Besides my 6 years cashiering experience, massage was the only other trade I had. I went back to school. I decided not to transfer any credits (which because of the difference in programs wouldn't have helped much anyway) I am glad I didn't. I didn't want to ruin the wonderful experience from learning things from a different perspective. New York standards of education are high all across the board. I felt like I was learning it for the first time because it was so much more extensive. My schooling was 1104 hours , 20 hours a week and believe me they took more time then that from me with all the clinics, soap notes, community service, and studying. The boards were a nightmare for me it was a miracle I passed on the first try. A few months later I decided to take the Nationals even though New York doesn't recognize it. I figured out that there are only a few states that have standards higher than New York, so by taking to the Nationals I would be almost limitless. I'm not 100% on that anymore it was what I believed to be true at the time. Anyhow, The reason I went into all that is because I earned that I worked hard for that, there were times I thought it would take my sanity away from me. I understand where you are coming from I do. In order for the whole country to recognize one test the standards of education everywhere would have raise because those states who are high aren't going to lower their standards. Going country wide it would be controlled by the government and become more political and we don't need more people who know nothing of our industry regulating us. We are better off dealing with the crazy legislation/zoning/standards in our own states. If you don't like the state move or lobby with other therapists for change. I don't think it would be impossible to get country wide exam. I just don't think it's as good an idea as it sounds. Sorry to be a nay sayer.
I am a student in OH and haven't heard about them changing the test in 2010. I just checked the state's website and it doesn't have any info on it about changing the test. Where did you hear about this?
Here is the Federations website- for anyone who is interested. www.fsmtb.org
There isn't anything on their website about OH or on OH's website that is why I am asking how you heard that they are changing.

Hillary Kate Arrieta said:
Here is the Federations website- for anyone who is interested. www.fsmtb.org

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