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Important Information Regarding NCBTMB Licensure Exams as of October 3, 2014

NCBTMB offers two exams that are accepted in thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia as one of the requirements of state licensure. For the past several months, however, NCBTMB has been actively collaborating with various profession-leading peer organizations to address the confusion between licensure and certification. Licensure is a mandatory, entry level credential that allows a message therapist to practice legally within his/her state. Board Certification is a higher, voluntary credential that extends beyond the basic requirements to show a deeper commitment to both the profession and the public--including more education, hands-on experience, and requires a background check.

On Friday, October 3, 2014, NCBTMB and FSTMB signed a collaborative agreement, marking the beginning of what we believe will provide greater licensure portability for massage therapists. This agreement states that, as of November 1st, 2014, NCBTMB will no longer offer its NCETM and NCETMB licensure exams to the public. Moving forward, NCBTMB will support FSMTB's MBLEx examination as the country's entry level licensure examination.

Important dates to know:

  • You may continue to register for NCBTMB's licensure examinations through October 31, 2014.
  • You will be given a 90-day window to schedule and sit for your NCBTMB licensure examination from the day you register.
  • If you are currently scheduled for an NCBTMB licensure exam, please continue the process as normal. You will not be affected by this change.
For more information on this agreement, please click here

The NCETM and NCETMB Exams

Depending on your area of interest, expertise and the requirements of your individual state, you may choose to take either the NCETM or the NCETMB.  Both exams--based on your state requirements--may be used as one of the requirements to become a licensed massage therapist.  
Effective January 1, 2013, these exams are offered for $185 and consist of 125 questions which are written at a state licensure level.   When you sign up for these exams, you will have the opportunity to purchase the online practice exam for a significant discount.  Additionally, you will receive $25 off your registration fee for the Board Certification exam--the highest credential in the profession.
Content areas of both exams include: 
  • General knowledge of body systems
  • Detailed knowledge of anatomy, physiology and kinesiology
  • Pathology
  • Therapeutic assessment
  • Therapeutic application
  • Professional standards, ethics, business and legal practices

The exams are based on the following core massage therapy curriculum:

  • 125 hours of instruction in the body's systems and anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology
  • 200 hours of in-class, supervised hands-on instruction in massage and bodywork assessment, theory, and application instruction
  • 40 hours of pathology
  • 10 hours of business and ethics instruction (a minimum of 6 hours in ethics)
  • 125 hours of instruction in an area or related field that theoretically completes your massage program of study

What is the Difference Between the NCETM and NCETMB Exams?

The main difference between the two exams is the NCETMB includes questions about bodywork assessment and application. There also are slight variations in the weighted percentages of the content areas.  For a comprehensive breakdown of content area percentages and a detailed list of publications used to develop the exams, see License Reference List and Content Breakdown Percentages.