I am a Massage Therapist


Board Certification in Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (BCTMB) is a higher level, voluntary, and fully accredited credential within the profession. It is a separate credential above and beyond mandatory state licensure.

Why should I consider Board Certification?

Board Certification was created to further tier the profession with standards set by massage therapists. Being Board Certified demonstrates your commitment to a higher standard of education and training, as well as striving to deliver the best possible care for clients/patients and our profession.

There are numerous benefits to becoming Board Certified. As massage therapy gains traction as a reimbursable, non-pharmaceutical method for pain relief, insurance companies and other approval entities will look for a credential—Board Certification—to make this possible.

Additional benefits include:

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    Give your clients/patients the best possible care

    Above all else, this should be your number one reason for becoming Board Certified. Maintaining your certification keeps you up-to-date on new practice guidelines and the latest research, and it also ensures the continued growth of your 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 the clinical environment. To be a member of an integrative healthcare team, you must have the knowledge and skill set to work alongside physicians—Board Certification proves you have the assessment skills, knowledge, experience, critical thinking abilities, and credentials fellow team members understand and respect.

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    Remain competitive in our profession

    Take charge of what you know and remain committed to be the best massage therapist you can be—utilize continuing education to really learn something rather than cramming to renew your state license. As new graduates enter the profession, your Board Certification and commitment to lifelong learning keeps you 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, and 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. As a BCTMB, you immediately qualify and further separate yourself from a standard LMT. Your credential may also result in higher wages and/or the ability to charge more per hour for massage-related work.


To achieve Board Certification, you must meet higher standards of education and training, as well as commit to lifelong education. Requirements include:

  • Graduate from an NCBTMB Assigned School*
  • Verification of legal practice in your state/jurisdiction
  • Pass a criminal background check (performed by NCBTMB)
  • Pass the Board Certification Exam
  • Agree to NCBTMB Standards of Practice & Code of Ethics
  • $250 Application & Exam Fee + $25 Background Check Fee

Once earned, you must achieve a minimum 24 CEs—including 3 CEs in Ethics—every 2 years, as well as pass a criminal background check, to maintain your credential.

*If you did not graduate from an NCBTMB Assigned School, or completed international training, you may apply via Portfolio Review (additional $75 fee). 


What do I need to know?

The Board Certification exam contains 140 questions and you will have 140 minutes 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 Board Certification Exam is built around the below main categories:

  • Assessment (25%)
  • Applied Science, including Anatomy, Physiology, Kinesiology, Pathology/Injury, and Pharmacology (25%)
  • Massage Modalities, Techniques, and Manual Forces (20%)
  • Professional Communication (15%)
  • Professionalism and Ethics (10%)
  • Laws and Business Practices (5%)

To download the full BCETMB breakdown, click here.

Additional information is available in the resourceful NCBTMB Candidate Handbook.

If you are planning to apply via Portfolio Review, the NCBTMB BCETMB Portfolio Review Handbook contains helpful information to prepare your application.

Regardless of how you plan to apply for Board Certification, the NCBTMB Online Practice Exam will be another helpful study tool to preparing for your exam. One, three, and six month subscriptions are available. To learn more, click here.


NCBTMB is a private, non-profit organization with the mission to define and advance the highest standards within the massage therapy and bodywork profession. NCBTMB Board Certification is the only true certification credential and is accredited through the NCCA/ICE.

Other programs offered through NCBTMB include the Massage Therapy Assessment for Certification (MTAC), Specialty Certificates, Approved Providers for Continuing Education, and Assigned Schools.