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Board Certification in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCTMB) is the highest attainable credential within the massage therapy and bodywork profession. It is a separate credential above and beyond entry-level, mandatory state licensure.

Board Certificants must meet stringent requirements, clear a recurring criminal background check, and pass the Board Certification Exam.

For a complete breakdown of the categories included on the Board Certification Exam, click here.


Board Certification is so much more than having an entry-level massage license. By achieving the profession's highest attainable credential, you represent advanced standards of education, experience, critical thinking, and assessment skills to provide clients and patients positive outcomes.

In the past, massage therapists have not made Board Certification a priority as it is voluntary—but that is changing rapidly in both clinical and staff positions. As massage therapy gains traction as a reimbursable, non-pharmaceutical method for pain relief, insurance companies and other approval entities will look for, or may even require, Board Certification to make this possible.

Beyond serving this crucial role within the profession, Board Certification provides a host of additional value and benefits.

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    Provide clients/patients with the best possible care

    Above all else, this should be a student's number one reason (and your number one reason for encouragement) for becoming Board Certified. Maintaining Board Certification keeps a student up-to-date on new practice guidelines and the latest research, and it also ensures the continued growth of his/her practice through referrals and testimonials. Credentials further build trust.

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    Get in sync with other healthcare professionals

    Simply stated, an entry-level massage curriculum is not always enough to succeed in a clinical environment. To be a member of an integrative healthcare team, your students must have the knowledge and skill set to work alongside physicians—Board Certification proves they have the assessment skills, knowledge, experience, critical thinking abilities, and credentials fellow clinicians understand and provides further validity to the profession.

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    Remain competitive in our profession

    Encouraging students to pursue Board Certification also influences them to take charge of what they know and remain committed to be the best massage therapist they can be—utilizing continuing education to really learn something rather than cramming to renew a state license. As new graduates enter the profession, Board Certification and commitment to lifelong learning keeps therapists competitive with fresh knowledge, the latest research, and more.

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    Be recognized as an expert

    Board Certified Massage Therapists are recognized as experts in the profession, and often sought out for leadership positions in schools, medical positions, and stakeholder organizations.

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    Further Massage Therapy's acceptance to be reimbursed by insurance companies

    Massage is quickly being sought after for alternative, non-pharmaceutical therapies to treat pain—Board Certification will help make this a reality. The medical community needs credentialed therapists who understand medical terminology, know when to refer out, understand how to create/adapt treatment plans based on the needs of the patient, and can confidently work within the Massage Therapy Scope of Practice.

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    Open doors to financial rewards, career advancement & personal satisfaction

    Employers, insurance agencies, and the public are looking for highly skilled and qualified therapists to fulfill rewarding clinical positions—in fact, Board Certification is often required. By encouraging students to pursue Board Certification, they immediately qualify and further separate themselves from other entry-level, licensed therapists. The credential may also result in higher wages and the ability to charge more per hour for massage-related work.

What are the Requirements?

  • Proof of graduation from an NCBTMB Assigned School*
  • Passing score the NCBTMB Board Certification Exam
  • Pass a criminal background check (performed by NCBTMB)
  • Verification of legal practice (e.g. having passed the MBLEx)
  • Agree to NCBTMB Standards of Practice & Code of Ethics
  • $250 Application/Exam Fee + $25 Background Check Fee

*If your school is not an NCBTMB Assigned School, or is an international school, your student(s) may elect to apply for Board Certification via Portfolio Review (additional $75 fee).

What Does teaching Board Certification Curricula to Students Look like?

NCBTMB is ready and willing to support you as an educator to incorporate Board Certification (and any additional NCBTMB-related programs) into your current curriculum.

The NCBTMB Assigned School Department offers top-notch School Specialists to assist you in reviewing your current curriculum, identifying areas of need, and offering support, such as sample curriculum and/or course outlines, to ensure your curriculum encompasses the minimal 500-hour NCBTMB Assigned School requirements and content areas to set up students for success in the event they choose to pursue Board Certification.

Beyond the above, NCBTMB has developed several tools and marketing material you may find useful in educating your students about Board Certification, such as an introductory video, coordinating an NCBTMB Virtual Visit, accessing the Candidate Handbook, and more.

To connect with an NCBTMB School Specialist, click the button below or complete the Contact form here.


Massage Therapy Assessment for Certification (MTAC): Created to serve all prospective and current therapists considering Board Certification, MTAC is an assessment that provides candidates a personalized breakdown of strengths and weaknesses in preparation of the Board Certification Exam. MTAC is also inclusive of information learned in core curriculum to provide an assessment of how well a candidate has digested and maintained such information. Your school may choose to utilize MTAC to gauge students' readiness for Board Certification upon graduation, identify strengths/weaknesses within your current curriculum, identify possible Continuing Education opportunities, and more.

Board Certification in Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (BCTMB): The profession's only higher level, voluntary, and accredited credential. This is a separate credential above and beyond entry-level, mandatory state licensure. Board Certificants possess and illustrate advanced knowledge in evidence-informed subject matter surrounding clinical and integrative healthcare environments. By utilizing resources from NCBTMB, you can include content within your current curriculum to prepare students for this next step following graduation.

Specialty Certificates: A Specialty Certificate symbolizes advanced education and training in a particular modality or when working with a specific population, such as Sports Massage, Oncology Massage, Clinical Rehabilitative Massage, and more. Your school may choose to offer NCBTMB Specialty Courses as a Continuing Education offering or utilize the information to further empower students to build out their career pathways.

Approved Providers for Continuing Education: A key component to NCBTMB's Board Certification program, the principal intent of its APCE program was and is to ensure that Certificants have access to reliable, credible, high-quality continuing education throughout their careers. Your school may consider applying for APCE status with NCBTMB to offer Continuing Education to students, graduates, and practicing therapists in your area as an added revenue generator and/or education opportunity.

Assigned School Code Program: An NCBTMB Assigned School is an institution researched and approved by NCBTMB proving the school is legitimate, operating legally, and meets our minimum curriculum requirements of 500 hours of education. Additionally, Assigned School Codes are required for candidates applying for Board Certification to streamline the application process and avoid Portfolio Review. Your school may consider becoming an Assigned School for the convenience of offering this opportunity to your students.


The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) is an independent, private, nonprofit organization founded in 1992.  The mission of NCBTMB is to define and advance the highest standards in the massage therapy and bodywork profession. In support of this mission, NCBTMB serves the profession through Board Certification, Specialty Certificates, Approved Providers, and Assigned Schools.

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