Board Certification

Simply stated, Board Certification is the highest voluntary credential attainable to massage therapists and bodyworkers in the profession today. Board Certification demonstrates a much higher level of achievement beyond entry level licensure—including completing more education, hands-on experience, and a background check—that will be a differentiator for you as you advance through your career, especially in a time where health care and other pivotal third-party professions require Board Certification in order to fill stable and rewarding positions.

We created Board Certification for massage therapists because we believe in something more. It is more than just another credential—it’s a commitment to raising the standards of our esteemed profession that have remained stagnant for over twenty years. Our goal is, was, and always will be to continue elevating the standards and practice of our esteemed profession and, ultimately, to positively impact society. Board Certification is the means to achieve that—especially for those interested in pursuing a career in health care and other growing third-party professions that already recognize and require Board Certification.

At our core, NCBTMB originally created certification to support therapists in achieving excellence beyond entry level licensure. Through the years, though, we realized that many therapists were practicing under stringent standards similar to other health care providers—and those therapists deserved to be recognized for their achievements and commitments. We believe the best way to establish greater credibility and visibility for such committed therapists is to raise standards. Like thousands of other Board Certificants, if you’re looking to advance your career and be recognized beyond entry level, then Board Certification is for you.

To become Board Certified, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Pass the Board Certification exam
  • Complete 750 hours of education
  • Complete 250 hours of professional hands-on experience
  • Pass a thorough national background check
  • Maintain a current CPR certification
  • Signed commitment to the NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Signed commitment to opposing Human Trafficking

Click here if you’re ready to advance your career with Board Certification today.

Our Answers to Your Most Common Questions:

GENERAL

What is Board Certification?

Board Certification is the highest voluntary credential available in the massage therapy and bodywork profession. This credential requires fulfilling additional qualifications, including more education, hands-on experience and a background check—ensuring therapists achieving this credential 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 twenty years.

Why was Board Certification created?

In the early 1990’s, there were few states that required licensure or regulated massage. In other words, someone could take a weekend course, receive a certificate, and call themselves a certified massage therapist. For those dedicated practitioners that actually attended and graduated from massage therapy school, we wanted something more—a way to show the entire nation that we had a higher level of education and were prepared to work with and help the public heal.

In 1992, a group of top profession leaders came together to build NCBTMB and created a certification program that would help elevate the standards of massage therapy. The founders of NCBTMB envisioned a national standard that could eventually be accepted by the entire country.

Soon, states began to incorporate licensure as a state requirement to practice legally in each state—but each state wasn’t interested in creating an entry level exam of their own. Many adopted NCBTMB’s National Certification Exam to serve as that entry level exam. The different level of credentials associated with the test became blurred—and certification seemed to slowly be losing its value.

In 2012, NCBTMB recognized that many massage therapy professionals did not truly know the difference between entry level licensure and National Certification. To rectify this problem, NCBTMB created the Board Certification exam—and raised its minimal requirements. This change will enable massage therapists to work towards higher certification than entry level licensure—and mirrors many other medical professions.

With Board Certification, the massage therapy profession can work together to elevate the profession—as a whole—and also work towards aligning with other medical professions that already recognize Board Certification.

How is Board Certification different from Licensure?

Licensure is a mandatory, entry level credential required by most states. If you are licensed, it does not necessarily mean you are certified.

Board Certification is the highest voluntary credential in the profession today. Achieving Board Certification shows a higher level of commitment to the profession by meeting greater educational and work experience requirements.

What is the value of Board Certification?

Board Certification is the highest voluntary credential attainable in the massage profession and communicates your commitment to safe, ethical practice and excellence.

As the massage therapy profession becomes increasingly more important, especially in health care, Board Certification provides practitioners with a competitive edge that helps them stand out from the crowd. Our Board Certificants gain visibility and credibility within the field among both colleagues and potential employers.

The value of Board Certification has many benefits to the profession, including:

  • Recognition by a third parties and other professions
  • Increased credibility
  • Enhanced professional reputation
  • Personal accomplishment
  • Supporting continued professional development through commitment to lifelong learning
  • Demonstrating a high level of commitment to the field of practice
  • Demonstrating a higher level of knowledge and skill
  • Increased opportunities for career advancement and/or increased earnings
  • Validation of skills and knowledge
What third parties currently recognize Board Certification?

As Board Certification becomes even more important to businesses and other third-party professions nationwide, it’s important to know that there are numerous high-level spas and hospitals that already require Board Certification to apply for and hold stable and rewarding massage therapist positions.

What are the Board Certification requirements?

To become Board Certified, you must meet or exceed the following requirements:

  • Pass the Board Certification exam
  • Complete a minimum of 750 hours of education. This includes:
    • Hours completed in your massage therapy program (required)
    • Continuing Education taken from an NCBTMB Approved Provider
    • ANY courses taken from ANY accredited college or university
  • Complete 250 hours of professional hands-on experience
    • This includes hours completed over no less than six months from graduation
  • Pass a thorough national background check
  • Obtain a current CPR certification
  • Affirm your commitment to the NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Commit to opposing Human Trafficking

Please keep in mind the 3/5 Rule:

  • The exam may be taken twice within a six-month period, with a 45-day wait between sittings.
  • Candidates who do not achieve a passing score after three (3) attempts:
    • Must submit reexamination fee proof of completing 100 hours of additional education before they can test again. NCBTMB recommends that education is in the areas of weakness.
    • Will then be allowed two (2) additional attempts to successfully pass the examination.
  • If the candidate fails the examination five (5) times, the candidate will be required to:
    • Must submit reexamination fee and proof of completing 500 hours of additional education before they can test again.

Costs:

  • $250 for new applicants
  • $225 for applicants who have previously taken an NCBTMB exam

To get started on your application, please register at the top of the NCBTMB.org website. If you already have a user name and password, login to the NCBTMB website. If you do not remember your username and password, please email info@ncbtmb.org.

Where do I send proof of my education, work experience, CPR certificate, valid government ID, and payment?

Login to the NCBTMB website using your personal username and password. Once logged in, simply upload your documents to the applicable form.

I was previously certified and sent in all my educational hours and transcripts at that time. Do I have to send all of my documents again?

Please contact Customer Service at 1-800-296-0664 or email info@ncbtmb.org. We will be happy to attempt to look up your previously submitted information to verify if we do have it on file.

Please note that you may be required to resubmit any applicable information at any time and must be prepared to do so. This may mean resubmitting proof of diploma, CE’s, etc.

Is there a tool to help me study for the Board Certification Exam?

Yes! NCBTMB is proud to offer our exclusive Online Practice Exam, which contains Level 1 (entry level) questions to better prepare you for any licensing exam, as well as a combination of Level 1 and Level 2 questions to better prepare you for the Board Certification exam.

The NCBTMB Online Practice Exam is the only study tool created by NCBTMB for the NCBTMB Board Certification exam.

For more information on the Online Practice exam, click here.

For a list of resources utilized to create the Online Practice Exam, click here.

What do I need to know for the Board Certification exam?

The Board Certification exam contains 160 questions. Content found on this exam embraces application of technique and is assessment based—simulating real-life scenarios you will more than likely encounter as a massage therapist.

In addition, the exam is built around four main topics/themes:

  • Communication (10-12%)
  • Law and Ethics (8-10%)
  • Evaluation, Planning, and Documentation (34-37%)
  • Massage and Bodywork Techniques and Application (43-46%)

To download the full BCTMB breakdown, click here.

Is portfolio review available to me if I don’t have a massage school diploma or other formal massage therapy training?

Yes. NCBTMB’s Portfolio Review allows applicants to demonstrate that they have the educational equivalent to the standard eligibility requirements.

To begin, please register at the top of the NCBTMB.org website. If you already have a username and password, login to the NCBTMB website. If you do not remember your username and password, please email info@ncbtmb.org.

What other organizations throughout the profession support Board Certification?

NCBTMB has formed several collaborative and supportive relationships as a member of the Coalition of National Massage Therapy Organizations, which includes a variety of massage and bodywork organizations within our profession. These include:

Now that I am Board Certified, what credential do I use?

Once you are Board Certified, please use the credential BCTMB after your name on all business cards, websites, social media accounts, etc.

To download the official BCTMB seal, click here.

When will National Certification officially expire?

Your National Certification expiration date is unique to you, depending on when you last renewed your certification. If you are unsure of your expiration date, please call us at 1-800-296-0664 or email info@ncbtmb.org and we will be happy to look it up for you.

Please keep in mind that National Certification will be officially expired as of December 31, 2016. All current National Certificants will need to transition to Board Certification prior to their expiration date or December 31, 2016—whichever comes first.

For more information on how to transition to Board Certification, click here.

How do I inform my clients about Board Certification?

While NCBTMB actively promotes Board Certification and those who attain it, we strongly encourage you to speak directly with your clients about the definition and the importance of Board Certification. Not only will it help to strengthen the relationships you have with your clients, but also confirms to your clients that they are receiving the safest, most advanced, and ethical care available.

If you need assistance in educating your clients, we invite you to download our user-friendly Consumer Guide by clicking here.

Together, the more we educate the general public about the value of Board Certification, the further we will together elevate the entire massage therapy and bodywork profession. Credentials matter. Let’s give them some meaning.

What other organizations certify massage therapists?

None. NCBTMB is the only organization that certifies massage therapy and bodywork practitioners through Board Certification.

To learn more about Board Certification, click here.

To learn more about NCBTMB, click here.

Is Board Certification recognized across the country?

Board Certification is the highest voluntary credential attainable in the massage therapy and bodywork profession. You must check with your state, or any state you wish to practice in, to verify the appropriate state requirements.

For a list of the State Board Websites, click here.

Why did NCBTMB add a documented work hours requirement to Board Certification?

To put it simply, we added a 250 hands-on experience requirement to achieve Board Certification because we want to ensure every certified massage therapist has the background necessary to work with and help heal the public. This also means that employers can rest assured that when they hire a Board Certified massage therapist, they are hiring someone with legitimate experience. Together in this effort we are elevating the massage therapy and bodywork profession as a whole.

If I take my state required test, does that mean I am certified?

Not necessarily. You must successfully pass the NCBTMB Board Certification Exam, as well as meet the requirements, in order to become Board Certified.

Also, it’s important to check with your state, or any state you wish to practice in, to verify the appropriate state requirements.

To review the requirements for Board Certification, click here.

RENEWING BOARD CERTIFICATION

What do I need to do to complete the Research Requirement?

Please visit The Massage Therapy Foundation website for full details on the Research Requirement, as well as how to locate acceptable courses near you.

What is the different between renewing and transitioning to Board Certification?

You will need to renew your Board Certification if you are currently Board Certified and wish to maintain your BCTMB credential for another two-year period. You will be required to present proof of 24 CEs and 100-hours of hands-on experience every two-years.

You will need to transition to Board Certification if you are currently Nationally Certified and interested in recertifying prior to your expiration date. Keep in mind that National Certification will officially expire on December 31, 2016.

How do I renew my Board Certification?

Once you become Board Certified, you will be required to renew your Board Certification every two-years.

To renew your Board Certification, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete 24 CEs over a two-year period
    • 3 CEs must be in Research
    • 3 CEs must be in Ethics
    • No more than 4 courses less than 2 CEs will be accepted
    • No more than 4 CEs in Self-Care will be accepted
    • All CEs must be from an NCBTMB Approved Provider
  • Complete 100-hours of work experience
    • Hours many include experience in:
      • Massage therapy or bodywork
      • Volunteerism
      • Administration
      • Teaching
      • Curriculum development
      • Writing/publishing
  • Maintain a current CPR certification
  • Pass a thorough background check
  • Reaffirm your commitment to uphold the NCBTMB Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Reaffirm your commitment to oppose Human Trafficking

To begin, please register at the top of the NCBTMB.org website. If you already have a username and password, login to the NCBTMB website. If you do not remember your username and password, please email info@ncbtmb.org.

What do I do if I was previously Nationally Certified but let my certification lapse or expire?

If your National Certification recently lapsed, please contact NCBTMB at 1-800-296-0664 or at info@ncbtmb.org for further review.

If your National Certification has expired, you must meet the requirements for Board Certification and successfully pass the Board Certification Exam to become Board Certified.

What do I do if I am currently Nationally Certified but want to transition to Board Certification?

As long as your National Certification is still current, and you meet the following requirements, you will be able to successfully transition to Board Certification.

Requirements to transition to Board Certification:

  • 750 hours of total education
    • Submit your massage therapy transcripts. If your school does not meet the 750 hour requirement, we will accept continuing education that you have completed in the past and any courses taken from an accredited college or university.
  • 250 hours of hands-on work experience
    • The work experience can be used since the time you became certified.
    • These hours must be professional hands-on work performed after you began working legally within your state.
    • 25 hours may be volunteer work.
  • Maintain a current CPR certification
  • Copy of a valid government ID
  • $85

To begin the process of transitioning from National Certification to Board Certification, please login to the NCBTMB website using your username and password and fill out the “Transition to Board Certification” application. If you do not yet have a username and password, please email info@ncbtmb.org.

Why should I renew my Board Certification?

NCBTMB’s mission statement is to define and advance the highest standards in the massage and bodywork profession. Board Certification is the highest voluntary credential to ensure all of us, as a profession, live up to the same mission. Certification is well known and accepted throughout different medical professions—massage therapy is no different.

As a Board Certified massage therapist, you are showing other medical professionals—and the public—that you have obtained higher credentials than just an entry level massage therapist. Credentials matter. You matter.

To renew your Board Certification, please login to the NCBTMB website using your username and password. If you do not yet have a username and password, please email info@ncbtmb.org.

To review the requirements to renew your Board Certification, click here.

Why should I transition to Board Certification?

Some time ago, you made the choice to become Nationally Certified—whether it was a state requirement at the time or because you decided to elevate your own career pathway. Board Certification is the highest voluntary credential in the profession today—and it symbolizes not only an elevation of your own standards, but a commitment to continue elevating the standards of our esteemed profession that have remained stagnant over the past twenty years.

For most, it is entirely possible to transition to Board Certification without taking the exam—as long as you meet our updated requirements. Simply login to the NCBTMB website with your username and password and fill out the “Transition to Board Certification” application to get started. If you do not yet have a username and password, please email info@ncbtmb.org.

For more information on the requirements to transition to Board Certification, click here.

How many CE’s do I need to transition to Board Certification if I graduated from a 750-hour program?

None. As long as you can submit proof of the 750-hour program you attended, that will be all you will need to meet the educational requirement for Board Certification.

For more information on the requirements for Board Certification, click here.

How many CE’s do I need to renew once I am Board Certified?

Board Certificants are required to earn 24 CEs every two-years to maintain their Board Certification credential. Three CEs must be in Research, three CEs must be in Ethics, and no more than four CEs in Self-Care.

Why did you create the Research Requirement?

If you have been involved within the profession for some time, you understand the many misconceptions within our esteemed profession. Things that we learned years ago are often being disproved—and some are still teaching and learning these misconceptions. To be frank, we want to put a stop to the nonsense.

Our Research Requirement ensures that all certified massage therapists:

  • Understand basic research vocabulary and concepts
  • Know how to use various databases to quickly find the information we’re looking for
  • Discern the differences between advertisements, trade magazines, and academic journals
  • Evaluate published research for its validity
  • Apply findings to our work to build our practices and improve outcomes

OTHER COMMON QUESTIONS

How can I receive college credits with proof of my current Board Certification?

NCBTMB is proud to partner with two esteemed universities to award college credits with proof of current Board Certification—Siena Heights University and HACC. Both of these educational institutions have assessed the Board Certification credential and agreed to award 30 or more college credits towards the respective degrees offered at their premier institutions.

Earn your Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Massage Therapy

Exclusively for Board Certificants, Siena Heights University in Adrian, MI awards 33 college credits toward the 120 total credits required to achieve this degree. Courses available on campus and online. BAS Degree candidates ordinarily have 60 credits before beginning with Siena Heights.

Learn more about this degree program.

Earn your Associate Degree in Health Science

Exclusively designed for actively credentialed or licensed health care professionals currently working in their fields, HACC in Harrisburg, PA awards current Board Certificants 30 college credits toward the total 61 credits required to achieve this degree. Courses available on campus or online.

Learn more about this degree program.

Is there a Candidate Handbook available?

Yes. Our Candidate Handbook contains all the information you need to know about NCBTMB, certification, the Board Certification exam, costs, how to register for your exam, how to retrieve exam score information, and much more.

Download the Candidate Handbook here.

Where do I go to see my Exam Score information?

After your exam is completed and scored, you may print out a results page from the Pearson Vue website.

Click here to visit the Pearson Vue website.

How do I create a username and password on the NCBTMB website?

Register at the top of the NCBTMB.org website. If you already have a username and password, login to the NCBTMB website. If you do not remember your username and password, please email info@ncbtmb.org.

Where can I connect with NCBTMB on social media?

Many of NCBTMB’s most exciting news, stories, and events are promoted on our various social media platforms. We invite you to please join our growing communities as we educate, encourage, and elevate the massage therapy and bodywork profession.

Don’t see your question listed? Contact our Customer Service Team at 1-800-296-0664 or email us at info@ncbtmb.org. Customer Service hours are Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm CST. We look forward to hearing from you!

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