Board Certification

Looking to advance your career? Board Certification is the highest voluntary credential attainable in the massage therapy and bodywork profession with a distinct level of achievement beyond entry-level licensure—including completing more education, hands-on experience, and a background check—that will give meaning to your career (and your clients!) with credentials that matter.

Simply stated, we believe in something more. That’s why we created the Board Certification credential for the profession. It is more than just another credential—it’s a lifelong commitment to raising the standards of our esteemed profession. Even more, Board Certification now aligns the massage therapy and bodywork profession with other allied health and medical professions, enhancing value and credibility to what we do best. In fact, many health care facilities and even some high-end spas now require Board Certification to apply for and achieve higher-level, rewarding positions.

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.

Board Certification Requirements

  • Pass the BCETMB exam
  • 750 hours of education*
  • 250 hours of professional, hands-on experience
  • Pass a national background check
  • Current CPR certification
  • Agree to uphold NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Agree to oppose Human Trafficking

Costs for Board Certification

  • $250 if you have never taken an NCBTMB exam
  • $225 if you have previously taken an NCBTMB exam

Schedule Your BCETMB Exam

  • Login to NCBTMB using your username and password
  • Once eligible, “Schedule Exam” will appear on your login screen
  • Click “Schedule Exam”
  • View all available testing locations, dates, and times
  • Schedule your exam

I am looking for more information on…

How to Become Board Certified

How to Renew My Board Certification

How to Transition Into Board Certification

Benefits/Tools For Board Certificants

Need help? Contact our Customer Service Team at1-800-296-0664 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!

*Please note: 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 1, 2013. NCBTMB reserves the right to deny, revoke or suspend a school’s NCBTMB Assigned School Code if that school is not meeting current NCBTMB standards and requirements. These actions may affect an applicant’s ability to meet the educational requirements of Board Certification.


How to Become Board Certified

What is Board Certification?

In short, Board Certification is the highest voluntary credential 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?

Board Certification was created to tier the massage therapy profession, just as you often see in other allied health and medical professions.

In 2012, NCBTMB recognized that many massage therapy professionals did not truly know the difference between entry-level licensure and certification. To rectify this problem, NCBTMB had to do two things: 1) Create a Board Certification exam, and 2) Raise its minimal requirements. These changes enable massage therapists to work towards higher certification than just entry-level licensure, as well as mirrors other allied health and medical professions—bringing credibility and validity to our profession.

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 are the Board Certification requirements?

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

  • Pass the Board Certification (BCETMB) exam
  • Complete 750 hours of education, including:
    • Hours completed in your massage therapy program (required) from an NCBTMB Assigned School currently in good standing
    • 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, including:
    • Hours completed over no less than six months from graduation
    • Hour completed after the you graduated from a massage therapy program and began practicing legally within your state
    • You must be able to show proof that you were licensed at the time in states/municipalities that require licensure
    • NCBTMB will only accept work experience that meets all state/local requirements for the practice of massage therapy.
  • Pass a thorough national background check (performed by NCBTMB)
  • Obtain a current CPR certification
  • Agree to uphold NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Agree to oppose Human Trafficking

The cost to apply for Board Certification is $250 if you have NOT previously taken an NCBTMB exam; the cost is $225 if you have previously taken an NCBTMB exam.

How much does it cost to become Board Certified?

The cost to become Board Certified is $250 for new applicants (i.e. if you have never previously taken an NCBTMB exam).

The cost is $225 for applicants who have previously taken an NCBTMB exam.

How do I apply to take the Board Certification exam?

Apply for Board Certification entirely online with these simple steps:

  • Login to the NCBTMB websitewith your username and password.
  • If this is your first time taking an NCBTMB exam, please create an account by clicking "Register" at the top of the NCBTMB homepage.
  • If you do not remember your username and password, please email info@ncbtmb.org.
  • Once logged in, click “Complete a Form” under the “Forms & Applications” section.
  • Click the “Board Certification Application.”
  • Complete all necessary information.
  • Utilize the “Board Certification Document Upload Form” to upload any necessary documentation.
  • Submit your payment.
  • Submit both forms.

That’s it! Contact us at info@ncbtmb.org or by calling 1-800-296-0664 with any questions.

Where do I go to take the Board Certification exam?

NCBTMB partners with Pearson Vue, a computer-based testing solution, to administer the BCETMB exam. Pearson Vue has multiple testing centers in each state; most centers are open 5-6 days per week.

Once you are eligible to schedule your exam, you can search all testing locations available (as well as the dates and times) to conveniently schedule your exam within your eligibility period. Simply log in to your account on the NCBTMB website, and click “Schedule Exam” on the left-hand side of your profile page. Here, you will be redirected to Pearson Vue’s system where you can search locations, view dates and times available, and schedule your exam.

Can I sign up and take my Board Certification exam if my work experience is not completed yet?

Yes! You can apply for Board Certification and sit for your Board Certification exam, even if your work experience is not completed at this time. You will have two years from the date you graduate to complete the required work experience.

Please note that you will NOT earn your Board Certification credential until you have passed your BCETMB exam, as well as prove you meet ALL requirements.

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

The Board Certification exam contains 160 questions and you will have 160 minutes (or approximately 2 ½ hours) to complete the exam. 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 certified massage therapist.

The BCETMB exam is built around four main categories:

  • 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 BCETMB breakdown, click here.

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 Level 2 questions to better prepare you for the Board Certification (BCETMB) 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 is the true value of Board Certification?

If you’ve been looking for a job recently, here’s something you should know: Board Certification is now recognized by many health care facilities, and even some high-end spas, to help fill rewarding positions—which means Board Certification is often required to apply, providing numerous benefits for both practitioners and the public.

As a Board Certified Massage Therapist, your benefits may include:

  • Recognition by third parties and other professions, such as health care
  • Increased credibility and professional reputation among peers and the public
  • Commitment to lifelong learning through continuing education to advance your skills
  • Demonstrated higher level of knowledge and skill with the credentials to back it up
  • Increased opportunities for career advancement
  • Potential for increased earnings with access to higher-level positions

As an added benefit, NCBTMB performs a criminal background check on each of its therapists when they apply and again each time they recertify—reassuring employers and the public they are working with a reputable and trusted massage therapist.

Your clients will thank you, too. Based on feedback we’ve received, clients have reported several benefits, including:

  • Confidence in selecting a dedicated professional committed to excellence in their chosen profession
  • Validation of a chosen professional’s knowledge and skills with credentials that matter
  • Appreciation for a chosen professional’s significant accomplishment
What will NCBTMB accept as proof of my CPR certification?

NCBTMB accepts CPR achieved through the following organizations:

NCBTMB will also accept CPR certifications from independent instructors who have achieved a CPR Instructor Certification from any of the above organizations. You must submit proof of your CPR certificate with a copy of your certificate or copy of your CPR certification card. Your document must be current and clearly state your expiration date.

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

Yes! NCBTMB’s Portfolio Review process allows applicants like you to demonstrate you have the educational equivalent to the standard eligibility requirements.

To begin, please login or register at the top of the NCBTMB website.

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.

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.

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.

How to Renew My Board Certification

What is the difference 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, as well as pass a national background check.

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

What are the requirements to 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, including:
    • 3 hours in Ethics
    • 3 hours in Research
    • No more than 4 hours will be accepted for self-care
  • Complete 100-hours of professional, documented hands-on work experience, including experience in:
    • Massage therapy and/or bodywork
    • Volunteerism
    • Administration
    • Teaching/Teaching Assistant
    • Curriculum Development
    • Writing/Publishing
  • Current CPR certification
  • Pass a thorough background check (performed by NCBTMB)
  • Agree to uphold NCBTMB's Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Agree to oppose Human Trafficking

The cost to renew your Board Certification is $85 every two years.

How do I renew my Board Certification?

You can renew your Board Certification entirely online with these simple steps:

  • Login to the NCBTMB website with your username and password.
  • Once logged in, click “Complete a Form” under the “Forms & Applications” section.
  • Click the “Board Certification Renewal Application.”
  • Complete all necessary information.
  • Submit your form.
  • Submit your renewal payment of $85.
How much does it cost to renew my Board Certification?

It costs $85 to renew your Board Certification every two years.

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

For more information on what you can do to complete the Research Requirement, please click here.

You are also welcome to visit The Massage Therapy Foundation website for additional details on the Research Requirement, as well as how to locate acceptable courses near you.

Will NCBTMB accept advanced science courses?

NCBTMB Board Certified Massage Therapists are required to seek out and participate in additional continuing education courses to further advance practitioner skills and competencies, strengthen business skills, enhance modality knowledge and professional ethics, and develop a greater depth of advanced knowledge in order to demonstrate higher standards and skills than entry-level, state licensed massage therapists.

It has come to the attention of NCBTMB that several Board Certificants are currently taking more advanced courses. Advanced courses and modalities are important to our profession to further elevate practitioners’ knowledge in science, business, and other realms—but may not necessarily be practiced legally without a trained professional present.

NCBTMB stands firm that all massage therapists—certified or not—may NOT practice beyond their legal Scope of Practice. It is important to note, however, that NCBTMB does encourage massage therapists to further educate themselves in other professions to better understand how to communicate and collaborate with other medical professionals to provide the best possible care for clients. Any massage therapist who wishes to practice other modalities outside of the Massage Therapy Scope of Practice must first attend and successfully graduate from that program.

To learn more about what NCBTMB will accept regarding advanced science courses, please click here.

What will NCBTMB accept as proof of my CPR certification?

NCBTMB accepts CPR achieved through the following organizations:

NCBTMB will also accept CPR certifications from independent instructors who have achieved a CPR Instructor Certification from any of the above organizations. You must submit proof of your CPR certificate with a copy of your certificate or copy of your CPR certification card. Your document must be current and clearly state your expiration date.

Why should I renew my Board Certification?

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. In fact, Board Certification is now a requirement to work in many health care settings, as well as some high-end spas, across the country.

As a Board Certified massage therapist, you prove to other medical professionals (and the public!) that you have obtained higher credentials and are more 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 remember your username and password, please email info@ncbtmb.org.

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, including:

  • 3 CEs in Research,
  • 3 CEs in Ethics, and
  • No more than four CEs in Self-Care.

How to Transition into Board Certification

What is the difference 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.

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

As long as your National Certification is still current, and you meet the following requirements, you will be able to successfully transition into Board Certification without taking another exam.

Requirements into transition to Board Certification:

  • Current National Certification,
  • 750 hours of total education, including:
    • Your massage therapy transcripts from an NCBTMB Assigned School currently in good standing,
    • Any continuing education that you have completed in the past, and
    • Any courses taken from an accredited college or university.
  • 250 hours of professional, hands-on work experience, including:
    • Experience gained since the time you became certified.
    • Hours must be professional hands-on work performed after you began working legally within your state.
    • 25 hours may be volunteer work.
  • Current CPR certification,
  • Copy of a valid government ID,
  • Pass a national background check (performed by NCBTMB),
  • Agree to uphold NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, and
  • Agree to oppose human trafficking.

The cost to transition into Board Certification is $85.

What are the requirements to transition into Board Certification?

Requirements to transition into Board Certification:

  • Current National Certification,
  • 750 hours of total education, including:
    • Your massage therapy transcripts from an NCBTMB Assigned School in good standing,
    • Any continuing education that you have completed in the past, and
    • Any courses taken from an accredited college or university.
  • 250 hours of professional, hands-on work experience, including:
    • Experience gained since the time you became certified.
    • Hours must be professional hands-on work performed after you began working legally within your state.
    • 25 hours may be volunteer work.
  • Current CPR certification,
  • Copy of a valid government ID,
  • Pass a national background check (performed by NCBTMB),
  • Agree to uphold NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, and
  • Agree to oppose human trafficking.

The cost to transition into Board Certification is $85.

How much does it cost to transition to Board Certification?

It costs $85 to transition from National to Board Certification.

You are not required to pay the additional $85 Board Certification Renewal Fee until your Board Certification expiration date—two years from the date you successfully transition into Board Certification.

How do I apply to transition into Board Certification?

You can apply to transition into Board Certification entirely online by following these simple steps:

  • Login to the NCBTMB website with your username and password.
  • Click “Complete a Form” under the “Forms & Applications” section.
  • Click on the “Transition into Board Certification” application.
  • Complete all necessary information.
  • Utilize the “Board Certification Document Upload Form” to upload any necessary documentation.
  • Submit your payment of $85.
  • Submit both forms.
What will NCBTMB accept as proof of my CPR certification?

NCBTMB accepts CPR achieved through the following organizations:

NCBTMB will also accept CPR certifications from independent instructors who have achieved a CPR Instructor Certification from any of the above organizations. You must submit proof of your CPR certificate with a copy of your certificate or copy of your CPR certification card. Your document must be current and clearly state your expiration date.

Why should I transition into 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 another exam—as long as you are actively Nationally Certified and you meet our requirements. Simply login to the NCBTMB website with your username and password and fill out the “Transition to Board Certification” application to get started.

How many CE’s do I need to transition into 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.

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 officially expire as of December 31, 2016. All current National Certificants will need to transition into Board Certification prior to their expiration date or December 31, 2016—whichever comes first.

Benefits/Tools for Board Certification

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.

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?

You should receive a pass/fail score report before leaving your testing center on the day you sit for your NCBTMB exam. If for some reason you require an additional official score report for yourself or another organization stating you passed your exam, please login to the NCBTMB website using your username and password and fill out the “Score Report Request Form” found under the “Complete a Form” section. There is a $20 processing fee per score report request.

Please note that NCBTMB does not send out score reports for failed exams, nor does NCBTMB reveal numeric exam score information.

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

Visit the NCBTMB homepage and click “Register” on the top left of your screen.

If you already have a username and password, please 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 by clicking the corresponding icons on the top right of the page.

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