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Acceptable CE Course Guidelines

Acceptable course content includes, but is not limited to:

  • Applications of massage and bodywork therapy for specific needs, conditions, or client populations
  • Anatomy, physiology and kinesiology
  • Research literacy
  • Client assessment protocols, skills for client record keeping, strategies for interfacing with other health care providers
  • Use of external agents such as water, heat, cold, or topicals
  • Body-centered or somatic psychology, psychophysiology, interpersonal skills – which may include communication skills, boundary functions, phenomena of transference, counter-transference and projection
  • Standards of practice, professional ethics or state laws
  • Strategies for the marketing of massage and bodywork therapy practices
  • Theory or practice of ergonomic science as applied to therapist or client
  • Hygiene, methods of infectious disease control, organization and management of the treatment environment
  • The use of massage therapy tools and their specific needs (tools may not be sold during class time and the instructor must be able to supply students with the tools during class)
  • Working with the muscles within the oral cavity for specific treatments, i.e. working on the masseter muscle in conjunction with TMJ Disorder
  • Self-care courses concentrating on nutrition and/or diet only, but only as it enhances the learner’s knowledge about the practice of massage therapy
  • Perform yoga/yoga teacher training programs (acceptable for therapist’s self-care only)*
  • Active strengthening/physical training  (acceptable for therapist’s self-care only)
  • Advanced science courses that contain content which goes beyond the massage therapist’s scope of practice (as defined by state and/or local legislation), and that is instructive in understanding different systems of the body or human behavior more in depth. Click here for more information
  • Energy work that includes “’professional therapeutic hands-on applications.”

*NCBTMB only accepts 4 CEs per renewal period in Self-Care. Self-Care is NOT a requirement.

Unacceptable Course Content includes:

  • Core curriculum content including basic anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, and Swedish massage applications
  • Diagnoses (allopathic-based) of clinical conditions
  • Implementation of allopathic medical/surgical procedures
  • Physically invasive modalities, e.g., ear candles, intra-anal, intra-vaginal modalities, etc.
  • Incorporation of chiropractic/osteopathic, e.g., ballistic, thrust oriented or other services and procedures which require additional licensure or certification, i.e., Yoga or Pilates Instructor Certification, Physical Therapy, Personal Training, Weight Training
  • Prescription of herbs, nutritional supplements, and /or pharmaceuticals
  • Performing hypnosis
  • Performing an aesthetician facial or exfoliation of cells from the body
  • Performing electrical stimulation, using electrical devices on clients or ultrasound of any kind
  • Psychological counseling
  • Psychic, clairvoyance, telepathic, astrology, religious practices
  • Dry needling and acupuncture
  • Breaking or removing tissue from the body
  • CBD Products*
  • Energy work that does not not include “professional therapeutic hands-on applications”
  • Aura techniques
  • Crystal healing
  • Qi Gong or Tai Chi
  • Fire cupping or any procedure that works with fire
  • Breast massage as part of anything other than medical procedures or prescribed by a physician (NCBTMB does accept breast massage when learning about oncology; specifically, breast cancer procedures)
  • Moxibustion
  • Tongue Reading
  • Erroneous, misleading titles of modalities; a description of the course must be added to the title if the modality cannot be easily deciphered by the title
  • Human Trafficking (click here for official statement)

Exceptions: Courses that will be allowed only when the course is designed/outlined and titled as strictly for the therapist’s personal self-care and not to be taught to others or performed on clients, such as:

  • Performing active strengthening/physical training to others (acceptable for the therapist’s self-care only).
  • Perform yoga/yoga teacher training programs (acceptable for therapist’s self-care only).

Please Note: Basic/fundamental course content represented in the initial massage therapist training, does not qualify for CEs as it is not continued education. Continued education must be of an advanced nature, with more specific approaches.

*How CBD products are derived may mean some products are controlled substances under federal law. There is also scarce research on the efficacy, dosing and contraindications for the consumer or a provider using CBD products.

Additionally, NCBTMB reserves the right to reject any course content that does not adhere to federal laws and regulation, risks participant or instructor safety, and/or is not sufficiently backed up by research.

Home study courses are defined as a course that is taken by a participant without direct communication with the instructor. These courses are distributed via website, email or U.S. Mail by the Approved Provider to the participant. Once the participant completes the material, a test must be taken and submitted back to the provider to be graded before the participant may receive a certificate. The Approved Provider must have the grading scale documented to inform participants of the grade that must be earned to pass the course.

CEs given to each participant must match the length of time it takes the average person to complete the course. NCBTMB has created minimal criteria that each home study course must pass before the course can be accepted:

  • The course content must be within NCBTMB’s acceptable content
  • The course content must be more advanced than the core curriculum guidelines
  • The course content must enhance a massage therapist’s level of knowledge
  • The course outline must fully describe the course layout
  • The number of CEs must be clearly defined and each course may not over or understate the amount of CE hours each course is worth
  • 12,000 words read equals 1 CE
  • One hour of video or audio equals 1 CE
    • Providers may give additional CEs for course work completed but the course work must be previously listed
    • Unsupervised practical assignments do not count towards CEs. Only assignments required to be turned in, which can be verified can earn CEs
  • According to several studies, the average reader reads approximately 200 words per minute.
    • Some participants may read faster or slower than the average, but home study courses may not be diluted to overstate the amount of CEs allowed for a home study course completion.
  • Approved Providers that teach courses via email or website must have contact information accessible to a participant in case technical issues arise.
  • Please indicate in the Course Outline section of the application how the course will be offered. (Ex. Content/materials are mailed, content materials are emailed, course is available online.)
  • If the content is available electronically, please upload the content with the “add content” link within the application.
    • If the course is available online, supply the website address, user name and password.
    • If the course is only available via hard-copy, mail contents to the NCBTMB address – Attention Approved Provider Dept. – New Course.
    • Materials submitted to NCBTMB will not be returned.
  • An exam must be completed by each participant with a passing score of 70 percent or higher.
    • Each exam must contain a minimum of 5 multiple-choice, questions, (containing 4 possible choices), per hour of class.
  • Certificates of Achievement are given to participants who complete a home study course

Other Key Requirements:

  • The course content must be within NCBTMB’s stated acceptable content
  • The course content must be more advanced that core curriculum guidelines
  • Learning objectives must be fully described and available to the participant
  • The number of CE hours must be clearly defined and each course may not over or understate the number of CE hours each course is worth
  • Homework does not count for CEs, and must be submitted separately as a home study course

If a Provider is using material created by other sources, he/she must follow these guidelines:

  • When creating a home study course, NCBTMB will accept no more than 30% of the material from a cited source (this includes videos)
  • Providers may use more than 30% as reference material, but the additional material may not be counted in the word count or video time
  • If a provider is using a text book, each participant must be provided a text book by the Approved Provider
  • Providers must properly cite all material that is taken from another source

Testing criteria for home study courses:

  • All home study courses must include a written exam, participants must pass, with a grade of 70% or higher, prior to receiving their certificate of achievement
  • Exams must include 5 multiple choice questions for each hour of the home study
  • 2 minutes per exam question will be accepted within the CE hours allotted for the course
  • Exam questions must be fact based to assess the participants retention of material in the home study course

Approved Providers may also work with an instructional designer to determine CE hours. Instructional designer must provide documentation of assignment of CE hours. Contact NCBTMB staff for additional information at ce@ncbtmb.org or call 1-800-296-0664.

Each state is separate and has the privilege to set its own parameters for the continuing education of their licensed professionals. Most states accept NCBTMB approved continuing education courses; however, some have created their own guidelines or limits for content they are willing to accept, along with content they require to be completed. Some have placed limits on the type (ex. home study, webinar, live) of course hours which can be accepted, and, additionally, some states have their own programs entirely.

It is for this reason NCBTMB suggests you present your courses to prospective students as NCBTMB Approved. It is best you recommend each Massage Therapist to check directly with their state to ensure the NCBTMB approved course they wish to take with you will be accepted. NCBTMB also advises that when planning to teach a course in a particular state, you check with that state directly to see if it will accept your NCBTMB approved continuing education. This way, you can offer accurate, up-to-date details to your participants, and feel confident about where you are planning classes.

While all APs are welcome to create and/or offer First Aid and CPR courses, NCBTMB will not accept them for continuing education.

Account & Program Updates

The previous owner must contact NCBTMB’s School Outreach department at schooloutreach@ncbtmb.org to inform us that the school has been sold. NCBTMB will close the current school code. The new owner must submit a new Assigned School Code Request Form. School Codes are non-transferable between owners.

  • Login to your account
  • Click Additional Forms from the Quick Links
  • Complete the “Change in Assigned School Name, Program, Contact Person, or Address” form
    • Submit legal documentation showing the school’s name change.
  • Click Submit

 

  • Login to your account
  • Click Additional Forms from the Quick Links
  • Complete the “Change in Assigned School Name, Program, Contact Person, or Address” form
    • Submit legal documentation showing the school’s change of address.
  • Click Submit

Approved Providers

Acceptable course content includes, but is not limited to:

  • Applications of massage and bodywork therapy for specific needs, conditions, or client populations
  • Anatomy, physiology and kinesiology
  • Research literacy
  • Client assessment protocols, skills for client record keeping, strategies for interfacing with other health care providers
  • Use of external agents such as water, heat, cold, or topicals
  • Body-centered or somatic psychology, psychophysiology, interpersonal skills – which may include communication skills, boundary functions, phenomena of transference, counter-transference and projection
  • Standards of practice, professional ethics or state laws
  • Strategies for the marketing of massage and bodywork therapy practices
  • Theory or practice of ergonomic science as applied to therapist or client
  • Hygiene, methods of infectious disease control, organization and management of the treatment environment
  • The use of massage therapy tools and their specific needs (tools may not be sold during class time and the instructor must be able to supply students with the tools during class)
  • Working with the muscles within the oral cavity for specific treatments, i.e. working on the masseter muscle in conjunction with TMJ Disorder
  • Self-care courses concentrating on nutrition and/or diet only, but only as it enhances the learner’s knowledge about the practice of massage therapy
  • Perform yoga/yoga teacher training programs (acceptable for therapist’s self-care only)*
  • Active strengthening/physical training  (acceptable for therapist’s self-care only)
  • Advanced science courses that contain content which goes beyond the massage therapist’s scope of practice (as defined by state and/or local legislation), and that is instructive in understanding different systems of the body or human behavior more in depth. Click here for more information
  • Energy work that includes “’professional therapeutic hands-on applications.”

*NCBTMB only accepts 4 CEs per renewal period in Self-Care. Self-Care is NOT a requirement.

Once you master a particular modality or subject, the next progressive step is to become a NCBTMB Approved CE Provider. You must have full knowledge of the course you wish to teach, as well as the necessary documentation created before teaching the course, including:

  • Proof of meeting the NCBTMB AP Instructor Qualifications
  • Course title and number of CEs (your title must be clear)
  • Course description
  • Learning objectives & outcomes
  • Course outline

Before submitting an application to NCBTMB for approval, you must have taught the course at least one time within the last year to a group of five or more participants. You must provide the participants with an evaluation requesting feedback on the course, instruction, and material. You may retrieve an evaluation form here.

Once the AP and course have been approved, Certificate of Achievement (home study courses or courses which require a passing score on an exam upon completion) or a Certificate of Completion (live courses which simply require full participation) may be retroactively given to participants who have completed the course in the past year (365 days) from the date of approval.

Course Description: Your course description should offer an idea of what subject matter is being shared, and how that information is presented while describing a little idea about the environment.  For instance, it should indicate what percentage of the class is lecture based, and what percentage is practice with hands-on.  This should provide an image of what will be taught, the purpose for this course, the projected benefits for learning this subject matter, and how you intend to teach this course.

Sample Course Outline:

Day 1 – Shoulder Girdle Work = 8 Hours

8:00 – 8:20 Meet and greet, introduction to course and what to expect, students receive class materials
8:20 – 10:00 One-on-one bodywork: Rotator Cuff Muscles, Rhomboids, Trapezius, Levator Scapula, Erector Spinae Group
10:00 – 10:20 Break
10:20 – 12:00 Students switch table time and Group 2 and repeat the techniques taught before break
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch break
1:00 – 2:40 One-on-bodywork: Latissimus Dorsi, Pectorals, Biceps, Deltoid, Triceps, SCM, Splenius Capitis, Suboccipitals
2:40 – 3:00 Break
3:00 – 4:40 Students switch table time and Group 2 practices the techniques taught before break.
4:40 – 5:00 Verbal review of course content, question & answer session.

Day 2 – Pelvic Girdle Work =8 Hours

8:00 – 8:20 Meet and greet, introduction to course and what to expect, students receive class materials
8:20 – 10:00 One-on-one bodywork: Iliopsoas, Quadriceps, Iliotibial Tract, Gluteals, Piriformis
10:00 – 10:20 Break
10:20 – 12:00 Students switch table time and repeat the techniques taught before break
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch break
1:00 – 2:40 One-on-bodywork: Hamstrings, Quadratus Lumborum, Adductors, Erector Spinae Group
2:40 – 3:00 Break
3:00 – 4:40 Students switch table time and repeat the techniques taught before break
4:40 – 4:50 Final review, question & answer session.
4:50 – 5:00 Students fill out evaluation forms

Learning Objectives and Outcomes:  One (1) Objective should be achieved per one (1) hour of course with one (1) to a few Outcomes for the course.

Learning Objectives should be specific, measurable, and achievable take-a-ways or proofs of learning that each participant will be able to expect to gain.  These are not items participants will learn about, but rather things they can do as a result of having learned something new.  Think in terms of action related demonstrations of knowledge.

Basically, each learning objective just needs to be something each participant can; list, explain, describe, state, perform, compare, name, define, recognize, identify, choose, implement, assess, evaluate, or demonstrate within the subject matter of the class.  Most times, an hour of discussion or practice could lead to several pieces of information being absorbed, however, we just need one.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes Example:  If the first hour of class included discussion about what Lymphatic Shiatsu for Degenerative Disease is, how it is performed, and how it may help benefit people with those conditions, then:

It would make sense that each person could:

  • Name a few degenerative diseases which could benefit from Lymphatic Shiatsu
  • List structures of the lymphatic system
  • Explain how Shiatsu applications or pressure is applied
  • Name a few conditions which are contra-indicated for Lymphatic Shiatsu
  • Explain how this application benefits people with degenerative diseases

This would yield 5 learning objectives.

Learning Outcomes should be a broader more general accomplishment or take-a-way each participant can do as a result of mastering each of the smaller, more specific learned tasks.  This would look like the following.

Each participant will be able to;

  • Demonstrate how to position a person for a lymphatic shiatsu massage
  • Perform a lymphatic shiatsu massage

Please Note: As an Approved CE Provider, each course must be submitted, reviewed, and approved prior to offering NCBTMB continuing education hours.

Click here for a full breakdown of NCBTMB’s AP Program Structure and Rules.

Unacceptable Course Content includes:

  • Core curriculum content including basic anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, and Swedish massage applications
  • Diagnoses (allopathic-based) of clinical conditions
  • Implementation of allopathic medical/surgical procedures
  • Physically invasive modalities, e.g., ear candles, intra-anal, intra-vaginal modalities, etc.
  • Incorporation of chiropractic/osteopathic, e.g., ballistic, thrust oriented or other services and procedures which require additional licensure or certification, i.e., Yoga or Pilates Instructor Certification, Physical Therapy, Personal Training, Weight Training
  • Prescription of herbs, nutritional supplements, and /or pharmaceuticals
  • Performing hypnosis
  • Performing an aesthetician facial or exfoliation of cells from the body
  • Performing electrical stimulation, using electrical devices on clients or ultrasound of any kind
  • Psychological counseling
  • Psychic, clairvoyance, telepathic, astrology, religious practices
  • Dry needling and acupuncture
  • Breaking or removing tissue from the body
  • CBD Products*
  • Energy work that does not not include “professional therapeutic hands-on applications”
  • Aura techniques
  • Crystal healing
  • Qi Gong or Tai Chi
  • Fire cupping or any procedure that works with fire
  • Breast massage as part of anything other than medical procedures or prescribed by a physician (NCBTMB does accept breast massage when learning about oncology; specifically, breast cancer procedures)
  • Moxibustion
  • Tongue Reading
  • Erroneous, misleading titles of modalities; a description of the course must be added to the title if the modality cannot be easily deciphered by the title
  • Human Trafficking (click here for official statement)

Exceptions: Courses that will be allowed only when the course is designed/outlined and titled as strictly for the therapist’s personal self-care and not to be taught to others or performed on clients, such as:

  • Performing active strengthening/physical training to others (acceptable for the therapist’s self-care only).
  • Perform yoga/yoga teacher training programs (acceptable for therapist’s self-care only).

Please Note: Basic/fundamental course content represented in the initial massage therapist training, does not qualify for CEs as it is not continued education. Continued education must be of an advanced nature, with more specific approaches.

*How CBD products are derived may mean some products are controlled substances under federal law. There is also scarce research on the efficacy, dosing and contraindications for the consumer or a provider using CBD products.

Additionally, NCBTMB reserves the right to reject any course content that does not adhere to federal laws and regulation, risks participant or instructor safety, and/or is not sufficiently backed up by research.

Home study courses are defined as a course that is taken by a participant without direct communication with the instructor. These courses are distributed via website, email or U.S. Mail by the Approved Provider to the participant. Once the participant completes the material, a test must be taken and submitted back to the provider to be graded before the participant may receive a certificate. The Approved Provider must have the grading scale documented to inform participants of the grade that must be earned to pass the course.

CEs given to each participant must match the length of time it takes the average person to complete the course. NCBTMB has created minimal criteria that each home study course must pass before the course can be accepted:

  • The course content must be within NCBTMB’s acceptable content
  • The course content must be more advanced than the core curriculum guidelines
  • The course content must enhance a massage therapist’s level of knowledge
  • The course outline must fully describe the course layout
  • The number of CEs must be clearly defined and each course may not over or understate the amount of CE hours each course is worth
  • 12,000 words read equals 1 CE
  • One hour of video or audio equals 1 CE
    • Providers may give additional CEs for course work completed but the course work must be previously listed
    • Unsupervised practical assignments do not count towards CEs. Only assignments required to be turned in, which can be verified can earn CEs
  • According to several studies, the average reader reads approximately 200 words per minute.
    • Some participants may read faster or slower than the average, but home study courses may not be diluted to overstate the amount of CEs allowed for a home study course completion.
  • Approved Providers that teach courses via email or website must have contact information accessible to a participant in case technical issues arise.
  • Please indicate in the Course Outline section of the application how the course will be offered. (Ex. Content/materials are mailed, content materials are emailed, course is available online.)
  • If the content is available electronically, please upload the content with the “add content” link within the application.
    • If the course is available online, supply the website address, user name and password.
    • If the course is only available via hard-copy, mail contents to the NCBTMB address – Attention Approved Provider Dept. – New Course.
    • Materials submitted to NCBTMB will not be returned.
  • An exam must be completed by each participant with a passing score of 70 percent or higher.
    • Each exam must contain a minimum of 5 multiple-choice, questions, (containing 4 possible choices), per hour of class.
  • Certificates of Achievement are given to participants who complete a home study course

Other Key Requirements:

  • The course content must be within NCBTMB’s stated acceptable content
  • The course content must be more advanced that core curriculum guidelines
  • Learning objectives must be fully described and available to the participant
  • The number of CE hours must be clearly defined and each course may not over or understate the number of CE hours each course is worth
  • Homework does not count for CEs, and must be submitted separately as a home study course

If a Provider is using material created by other sources, he/she must follow these guidelines:

  • When creating a home study course, NCBTMB will accept no more than 30% of the material from a cited source (this includes videos)
  • Providers may use more than 30% as reference material, but the additional material may not be counted in the word count or video time
  • If a provider is using a text book, each participant must be provided a text book by the Approved Provider
  • Providers must properly cite all material that is taken from another source

Testing criteria for home study courses:

  • All home study courses must include a written exam, participants must pass, with a grade of 70% or higher, prior to receiving their certificate of achievement
  • Exams must include 5 multiple choice questions for each hour of the home study
  • 2 minutes per exam question will be accepted within the CE hours allotted for the course
  • Exam questions must be fact based to assess the participants retention of material in the home study course

Approved Providers may also work with an instructional designer to determine CE hours. Instructional designer must provide documentation of assignment of CE hours. Contact NCBTMB staff for additional information at ce@ncbtmb.org or call 1-800-296-0664.

A NCBTMB Board Approved Continuing Education Provider, commonly referred to simply as an Approved Provider, is a continuing education instructor who has exhibited quality instruction of the highest standards throughout the massage therapy and bodywork profession.

Board Certificants must recertify every two years, and are required to earn 24 credits from an NCBTMB Approved Provider within that two-year period—meaning the highest quality massage therapists and bodyworkers will be seeking out your classes to further improve their knowledge and skills.

Assigned Schools

A 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.

NCBTMB Assigned Schools are awarded an Assigned School Code once programs are approved. This code is required for graduates of a school’s massage therapy program(s) to sit for the Board Certification Examination.

To complete applications with NCBTMB, you must first login to your NCBTMB account on www.ncbtmb.org by clicking “Login” at the top of the page.

If you do not have a NCBTMB account, click “Register” at the top left of the page, fill out all required information, and Submit. You can then login to your NCBTMB account.

To access applications once logged in, click on “Initial Applications” from the Quick Links portion of your dashboard.

Students graduating from NCBTMB Assigned School Codes have access to a streamlined application process for Board Certification as the school is previously reviewed.

Students graduating from a school without an NCBTMB Assigned School Code may be able to complete the NCBTMB Portfolio Review Process. To find out if you or your students may be eligible, call us at 1-800-296-0664 or email us at info@ncbtmb.org. We’ll help you figure out if there is an alternative route to Board Certification for you.

To become an NCBTMB Assigned School and receive an Assigned School Code, you must meet our minimum 500-hour curriculum requirements in Western based massage therapy education.

Non-Accredited Schools: All 500 hours of core curriculum must be live, in class with an instructor present. NCBTMB no longer accepts online learning in core curriculum for Non-Accredited programs.

Accredited Schools: NCBTMB will accept a portion of classes via Learning Management System (LMS). Click here for more information.

Our 500-hour curriculum requirements:

  • 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

In recognition of the lengthy accreditation process undertaken by Accredited schools, Accredited and Non-Accredited schools are asked to submit different materials.

Please Note: All education submitted on the Assigned School Application must meet NCBTMB’s acceptable course content guidelines. In addition, all course content and curriculum must be acceptable within the state the school is located. Applications will be rejected if they list information that NCBTMB does not accept no matter the length of the program.

An Assigned School Code is a six-digit reference number assigned to a school by NCBTMB. To obtain an assigned school code, the primary contact person for the school must:

  • Create account with NCBTMB at www.ncbtmb.org
  • Once logged in, click “Initial Applications” from the Quick Links menu
  • Complete and submit the “Assigned School Initial Application” form

Please be aware that there are two separate forms—one for Accredited schools and a second for Non-Accredited schools.

A student or school’s use of this code enables efficient processing of student applications by NCBTMB. A code that has been assigned to a school indicates that the school’s program meets NCBTMB’s requirements, and consequently, that its graduate’s meet NCBTMB’s eligibility requirements relating to educational background.

Board Certification

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.

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

  • Graduation from a NCBTMB Assigned School*
  • Passing score on the Board Certification Exam
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Verification of current massage therapy state license
  • Agree to uphold NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics

The cost to apply for Board Certification is $250, plus a $25 background check fee (performed by NCBTMB).

*If you did not graduate from a NCBTMB Assigned School, your school is now closed, or you completed international training, you may instead apply for Board Certification via Portfolio Review. Download the Portfolio Review Handbook here.

**If submitting a transcript with transfer credits, the original transcript where credits were transferred from must be submitted as well.

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.

Board Certification in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCTMB) represents the highest attainable credential within the massage therapy and bodywork profession. Board Certification is an advanced credential separate from entry-level massage therapy state licensure.

As Board Certification is voluntary, its achievement represents the highest level of commitment to clients and to the advancement of the massage therapy and bodywork profession. Board Certificants must meet higher standards of education, possess a higher level of critical thinking skills, and pass a rigorous exam. The exam requires candidates to apply assessment skills, orthopedic knowledge, applied science skills (such as pathology, pharmacology, and more), and more to real-life scenarios in an effort to develop treatment plans that achieve positive results.

In addition, all Board Certificants must undergo a routine criminal background check upon initial application and renewal (every two years) as a means of ensuring employers and the public that they are working with a trusted and reputable professional.

All Assigned Schools who meet NCBTMB’s requirements have a code they can provide to their students, otherwise known as an Assigned School Code. You will need your Assigned School Code in order to register and sit for the Board Certification exam.  If you do not know this code, please contact your school’s administration.

Course, Instructor & Account Updates

To edit or create segments for your current approved course:

  • Login to your Approved Provider account at ncbtmb.org.
  • Click “Additional Forms” from the Quick Links menu
  • Click the “Updates to an Existing Course Form”
  • Complete the form as required and submit
  • There is no charge to make changes to an existing course

Please Note: Please be sure to only issue certificates for your NCBTMB approved courses that match, exactly, to the course title and number of hours we have on file. NCBTMB will not accept CE certificates that differ in course title and number of hours from your NCBTMB approved courses. Such CE certificates may also have the potential to be rejected by a state regulatory board.

NCBTMB makes every effort to review your requests as soon as possible. We typically process all requests within four weeks from the date of submission. You can view the status of all your applications by logging into your account and clicking on “Applications History” from the Dashboard.

No. The previous owner must contact NCBTMB’s Approved Provider department at ce@ncbtmb.org or by calling 1-800-296-0664 to inform us that the Approved Provider organization has been sold. NCBTMB will close the current Approved Provider. The new owner must submit a new Initial Approved Provider Code Request Form. Approved Provider Codes are non-transferable between owners.

  • Login to your account
  • Click Additional Forms from the Quick Links menu
  • Complete the “Instructor Resume/CV Form”
  • Click Submit

There are no fees to add additional instructors to your AP Organization account.

To add a new conference to your current Approved Provider account:

  • Login to your Approved Provider account
  • Click “Initial Applications” from the Quick Links menu
  • Click “Approved Provider Conferences/Tradeshows”
  • Complete the form and submit

NCBTMB makes every effort to review your course additions as soon as possible. We typically process all requests within four weeks from the date of submission. You can view the status of all your applications by logging into your account and clicking on “Applications History” from the Quick Links.

Please also note that each course must be submitted, reviewed, and approved prior to offering NCBTMB continuing education hours.

To add new courses to your current Approved Provider account:

  1. Login to your NCBTMB AP account on www.ncbtmb.org
  2. Click “Initial Applications” from the Quick Links Menu on your Dashboard
  3. Select the “Approved Provider New Course(s) Form”
  4. Complete the form as required and submit.

For step-by-step instructions on how to complete the New Course Form, click here.

NCBTMB makes every effort to review your course additions as soon as possible. We typically process all requests within four weeks from the date of submission. You can view the status of all your applications by logging into your account and clicking on “Applications History” from the Quick Links menu.

Please note that, upon approval, you can retroactively grant CE’s for any course that you taught during the approval process.

General Information

A 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.

NCBTMB Assigned Schools are awarded an Assigned School Code once programs are approved. This code is required for graduates of a school’s massage therapy program(s) to sit for the Board Certification Examination.

Students graduating from NCBTMB Assigned School Codes have access to a streamlined application process for Board Certification as the school is previously reviewed.

Students graduating from a school without an NCBTMB Assigned School Code may be able to complete the NCBTMB Portfolio Review Process. To find out if you or your students may be eligible, call us at 1-800-296-0664 or email us at info@ncbtmb.org. We’ll help you figure out if there is an alternative route to Board Certification for you.

To become an NCBTMB Assigned School and receive an Assigned School Code, you must meet our minimum 500-hour curriculum requirements in Western based massage therapy education.

Non-Accredited Schools: All 500 hours of core curriculum must be live, in class with an instructor present. NCBTMB no longer accepts online learning in core curriculum for Non-Accredited programs.

Accredited Schools: NCBTMB will accept a portion of classes via Learning Management System (LMS). Click here for more information.

Our 500-hour curriculum requirements:

  • 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

In recognition of the lengthy accreditation process undertaken by Accredited schools, Accredited and Non-Accredited schools are asked to submit different materials.

Please Note: All education submitted on the Assigned School Application must meet NCBTMB’s acceptable course content guidelines. In addition, all course content and curriculum must be acceptable within the state the school is located. Applications will be rejected if they list information that NCBTMB does not accept no matter the length of the program.

An Assigned School Code is a six-digit reference number assigned to a school by NCBTMB. To obtain an assigned school code, the primary contact person for the school must:

  • Create account with NCBTMB at www.ncbtmb.org
  • Once logged in, click “Initial Applications” from the Quick Links menu
  • Complete and submit the “Assigned School Initial Application” form

Please be aware that there are two separate forms—one for Accredited schools and a second for Non-Accredited schools.

A student or school’s use of this code enables efficient processing of student applications by NCBTMB. A code that has been assigned to a school indicates that the school’s program meets NCBTMB’s requirements, and consequently, that its graduate’s meet NCBTMB’s eligibility requirements relating to educational background.

Unacceptable core curriculum content includes but is not limited to:

  • Diagnoses (allopathic-based) of clinical conditions
  • Implementation of allopathic medical/surgical procedures
  • Physically invasive modalities, e.g., ear candles, intra-anal, intra-vaginal modalities, etc.
  • Incorporation of chiropractic/osteopathic, e.g., ballistic, thrust oriented or other services and procedures which require additional licensure or certification, i.e., Yoga or Pilates Instructor Certification, Physical Therapy, Personal Training, Weight Training
  • Prescription of herbs, nutritional supplements, and /or pharmaceuticals
  • Performing hypnosis
  • Performing an aesthetician facial or exfoliation of cells from the body
  • Performing electrical stimulation, using electrical devices on clients or ultrasound of any kind
  • Psychological counseling
  • Psychic, clairvoyance, telepathic, astrology, religion and/or religious practices
  • Dry needling and acupuncture
  • Breaking or removing tissue from the body
  • CBD Products*
  • Energy work that does not involve “the application of professional therapeutic touch”
  • Aura techniques
  • Crystal healing
  • Qi Gong or Tai Chi
  • Fire cupping or any procedure that works with fire
  • Breast massage as part of anything other than medical procedures or prescribed by a physician (NCBTMB does accept breast massage when learning about oncology; specifically, breast cancer procedures)
  • Moxibustion
  • Tongue Reading
  • Erroneous, misleading titles of modalities; a description of the course must be added to the title if the modality cannot be easily deciphered by the title
  • Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT)

*How CBD products are derived may mean some products are controlled substances under federal law. There is also scarce research on the efficacy, dosing and contraindications for the consumer or a provider using CBD products.

NCBTMB has the right to reject any course content that does not adhere to federal laws and regulation, risks participant or instructor safety, and/or is not sufficiently backed up by research. 

To become an NCBTMB Assigned School and receive an Assigned School Code, you must meet our minimum 500-hour curriculum requirements in Western based massage therapy education.

Non-Accredited Schools: All 500 hours of core curriculum must be live, in class with an instructor present. NCBTMB no longer accepts online learning in core curriculum for Non-Accredited programs.

Accredited Schools: NCBTMB will accept a portion of classes via Learning Management System (LMS). Click here for more information.

How to apply for the MTAC

The cost of the MTAC is $135, which includes the assessment and a background check (performed by NCBTMB). The background check is valid for two years, should you pursue Board Certification within that timeframe.

The MTAC is composed of 120 multiple-choice questions and is graded in raw score format. The tool assesses various areas reflective of both the Board Certification Exam and core curriculum, including: Massage Modalities, Techniques and Manual Forces, Applied Science (Anatomy, Physiology, Kinesiology, Pathology/Injury, and Pharmacology), Professional Communication, Professionalism and Ethics, Laws and Business Practices, Self Care, and Assessment.

For a full breakdown of the MTAC, click here.

Eligibility requirements for the MTAC are as follows:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Proof of current enrollment or graduation from an NCBTMB Assigned School
  • Pass a criminal background check (performed by NCBTMB)

The MTAC is available to eligible candidates at all Prometric nationwide testing centers. Detailed information will be provided upon review and approval of your MTAC application.

The MTAC is only available in English.

The cost of the MTAC is $135, which includes the assessment and a background check. The background check is valid for two years, should an individual pursue Board Certification within that timeframe.

As passing a criminal background check is required for Board Certification, completing it along with your MTAC is another means of proving your eligibility to achieve the advanced credential (BCTMB) should you decide to pursue it within the two-year timeframe.

How to become an Approved Provider

Acceptable course content includes, but is not limited to:

  • Applications of massage and bodywork therapy for specific needs, conditions, or client populations
  • Anatomy, physiology and kinesiology
  • Research literacy
  • Client assessment protocols, skills for client record keeping, strategies for interfacing with other health care providers
  • Use of external agents such as water, heat, cold, or topicals
  • Body-centered or somatic psychology, psychophysiology, interpersonal skills – which may include communication skills, boundary functions, phenomena of transference, counter-transference and projection
  • Standards of practice, professional ethics or state laws
  • Strategies for the marketing of massage and bodywork therapy practices
  • Theory or practice of ergonomic science as applied to therapist or client
  • Hygiene, methods of infectious disease control, organization and management of the treatment environment
  • The use of massage therapy tools and their specific needs (tools may not be sold during class time and the instructor must be able to supply students with the tools during class)
  • Working with the muscles within the oral cavity for specific treatments, i.e. working on the masseter muscle in conjunction with TMJ Disorder
  • Self-care courses concentrating on nutrition and/or diet only, but only as it enhances the learner’s knowledge about the practice of massage therapy
  • Perform yoga/yoga teacher training programs (acceptable for therapist’s self-care only)*
  • Active strengthening/physical training  (acceptable for therapist’s self-care only)
  • Advanced science courses that contain content which goes beyond the massage therapist’s scope of practice (as defined by state and/or local legislation), and that is instructive in understanding different systems of the body or human behavior more in depth. Click here for more information
  • Energy work that includes “’professional therapeutic hands-on applications.”

*NCBTMB only accepts 4 CEs per renewal period in Self-Care. Self-Care is NOT a requirement.

Once you master a particular modality or subject, the next progressive step is to become a NCBTMB Approved CE Provider. You must have full knowledge of the course you wish to teach, as well as the necessary documentation created before teaching the course, including:

  • Proof of meeting the NCBTMB AP Instructor Qualifications
  • Course title and number of CEs (your title must be clear)
  • Course description
  • Learning objectives & outcomes
  • Course outline

Before submitting an application to NCBTMB for approval, you must have taught the course at least one time within the last year to a group of five or more participants. You must provide the participants with an evaluation requesting feedback on the course, instruction, and material. You may retrieve an evaluation form here.

Once the AP and course have been approved, Certificate of Achievement (home study courses or courses which require a passing score on an exam upon completion) or a Certificate of Completion (live courses which simply require full participation) may be retroactively given to participants who have completed the course in the past year (365 days) from the date of approval.

Course Description: Your course description should offer an idea of what subject matter is being shared, and how that information is presented while describing a little idea about the environment.  For instance, it should indicate what percentage of the class is lecture based, and what percentage is practice with hands-on.  This should provide an image of what will be taught, the purpose for this course, the projected benefits for learning this subject matter, and how you intend to teach this course.

Sample Course Outline:

Day 1 – Shoulder Girdle Work = 8 Hours

8:00 – 8:20 Meet and greet, introduction to course and what to expect, students receive class materials
8:20 – 10:00 One-on-one bodywork: Rotator Cuff Muscles, Rhomboids, Trapezius, Levator Scapula, Erector Spinae Group
10:00 – 10:20 Break
10:20 – 12:00 Students switch table time and Group 2 and repeat the techniques taught before break
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch break
1:00 – 2:40 One-on-bodywork: Latissimus Dorsi, Pectorals, Biceps, Deltoid, Triceps, SCM, Splenius Capitis, Suboccipitals
2:40 – 3:00 Break
3:00 – 4:40 Students switch table time and Group 2 practices the techniques taught before break.
4:40 – 5:00 Verbal review of course content, question & answer session.

Day 2 – Pelvic Girdle Work =8 Hours

8:00 – 8:20 Meet and greet, introduction to course and what to expect, students receive class materials
8:20 – 10:00 One-on-one bodywork: Iliopsoas, Quadriceps, Iliotibial Tract, Gluteals, Piriformis
10:00 – 10:20 Break
10:20 – 12:00 Students switch table time and repeat the techniques taught before break
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch break
1:00 – 2:40 One-on-bodywork: Hamstrings, Quadratus Lumborum, Adductors, Erector Spinae Group
2:40 – 3:00 Break
3:00 – 4:40 Students switch table time and repeat the techniques taught before break
4:40 – 4:50 Final review, question & answer session.
4:50 – 5:00 Students fill out evaluation forms

Learning Objectives and Outcomes:  One (1) Objective should be achieved per one (1) hour of course with one (1) to a few Outcomes for the course.

Learning Objectives should be specific, measurable, and achievable take-a-ways or proofs of learning that each participant will be able to expect to gain.  These are not items participants will learn about, but rather things they can do as a result of having learned something new.  Think in terms of action related demonstrations of knowledge.

Basically, each learning objective just needs to be something each participant can; list, explain, describe, state, perform, compare, name, define, recognize, identify, choose, implement, assess, evaluate, or demonstrate within the subject matter of the class.  Most times, an hour of discussion or practice could lead to several pieces of information being absorbed, however, we just need one.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes Example:  If the first hour of class included discussion about what Lymphatic Shiatsu for Degenerative Disease is, how it is performed, and how it may help benefit people with those conditions, then:

It would make sense that each person could:

  • Name a few degenerative diseases which could benefit from Lymphatic Shiatsu
  • List structures of the lymphatic system
  • Explain how Shiatsu applications or pressure is applied
  • Name a few conditions which are contra-indicated for Lymphatic Shiatsu
  • Explain how this application benefits people with degenerative diseases

This would yield 5 learning objectives.

Learning Outcomes should be a broader more general accomplishment or take-a-way each participant can do as a result of mastering each of the smaller, more specific learned tasks.  This would look like the following.

Each participant will be able to;

  • Demonstrate how to position a person for a lymphatic shiatsu massage
  • Perform a lymphatic shiatsu massage

Please Note: As an Approved CE Provider, each course must be submitted, reviewed, and approved prior to offering NCBTMB continuing education hours.

Click here for a full breakdown of NCBTMB’s AP Program Structure and Rules.

Unacceptable Course Content includes:

  • Core curriculum content including basic anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, and Swedish massage applications
  • Diagnoses (allopathic-based) of clinical conditions
  • Implementation of allopathic medical/surgical procedures
  • Physically invasive modalities, e.g., ear candles, intra-anal, intra-vaginal modalities, etc.
  • Incorporation of chiropractic/osteopathic, e.g., ballistic, thrust oriented or other services and procedures which require additional licensure or certification, i.e., Yoga or Pilates Instructor Certification, Physical Therapy, Personal Training, Weight Training
  • Prescription of herbs, nutritional supplements, and /or pharmaceuticals
  • Performing hypnosis
  • Performing an aesthetician facial or exfoliation of cells from the body
  • Performing electrical stimulation, using electrical devices on clients or ultrasound of any kind
  • Psychological counseling
  • Psychic, clairvoyance, telepathic, astrology, religious practices
  • Dry needling and acupuncture
  • Breaking or removing tissue from the body
  • CBD Products*
  • Energy work that does not not include “professional therapeutic hands-on applications”
  • Aura techniques
  • Crystal healing
  • Qi Gong or Tai Chi
  • Fire cupping or any procedure that works with fire
  • Breast massage as part of anything other than medical procedures or prescribed by a physician (NCBTMB does accept breast massage when learning about oncology; specifically, breast cancer procedures)
  • Moxibustion
  • Tongue Reading
  • Erroneous, misleading titles of modalities; a description of the course must be added to the title if the modality cannot be easily deciphered by the title
  • Human Trafficking (click here for official statement)

Exceptions: Courses that will be allowed only when the course is designed/outlined and titled as strictly for the therapist’s personal self-care and not to be taught to others or performed on clients, such as:

  • Performing active strengthening/physical training to others (acceptable for the therapist’s self-care only).
  • Perform yoga/yoga teacher training programs (acceptable for therapist’s self-care only).

Please Note: Basic/fundamental course content represented in the initial massage therapist training, does not qualify for CEs as it is not continued education. Continued education must be of an advanced nature, with more specific approaches.

*How CBD products are derived may mean some products are controlled substances under federal law. There is also scarce research on the efficacy, dosing and contraindications for the consumer or a provider using CBD products.

Additionally, NCBTMB reserves the right to reject any course content that does not adhere to federal laws and regulation, risks participant or instructor safety, and/or is not sufficiently backed up by research.

To complete applications with NCBTMB, you must first login to your NCBTMB account on www.ncbtmb.org by clicking “Login” at the top of the page.

If you do not have a NCBTMB account, click “Register” at the top left of the page, fill out all required information, and Submit. You can then login to your NCBTMB account.

To access applications once logged in, click on “Initial Applications” from the Quick Links portion of your dashboard.

Important information for first-time applicants:

  • The Approved Provider Application fee to both apply and renew is $225 (Individuals) and $450 (Organizations and Conference/Tradeshow Providers) for a three-year period.
  • Each separate course submission for an Individual or Organization Approved Provider is $25.
    • Multiple courses that contain information about the same modality and level of understanding, working with different areas of the body are considered the same course.
    • Courses that are taught for different amounts of CEs due to teaching for different venues are considered one course.
    • Tip: Submit the longest version of a class that will be broken into segments to avoid being charged for different courses.
  • The application is equipped to list a primary course and the different courses that may be segmented out of the primary course.
  • Organizations that hold a conference or tradeshow with four or more instructors must submit $100 for the review of the conference or tradeshow.
  • All organizations that only hold conferences or tradeshows will submit $100 for the review of the instructors and courses being taught for the conference/tradeshow.
  • Instructors teaching under Organization status accounts must first be submitted to and approved by NCBTMB prior to teaching and issuing CEs.

Important information regarding new course submissions:

  • Each separate course submission for an Individual or Organization AP is $25.
    • Each course must be submitted, reviewed, and approved prior to offering NCBTMB continuing education hours.
  • There will be an additional $50 per three-year renewal charge associated with Approved Providers that want to be sponsored by NCBTMB to teach New York LMTs.
    • NY will only accept CEs from a CE Provider that NY approves or that is sponsored by an entity that has been approved by the NY Board. NCBTMB is a New York approved Sponsor and will pass this sponsorship to its Approved Providers.

Questions? Contact us at ce@ncbtmb.org or call 1-800-296-0664.

How to become an Assigned School

A 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.

NCBTMB Assigned Schools are awarded an Assigned School Code once programs are approved. This code is required for graduates of a school’s massage therapy program(s) to sit for the Board Certification Examination.

To complete applications with NCBTMB, you must first login to your NCBTMB account on www.ncbtmb.org by clicking “Login” at the top of the page.

If you do not have a NCBTMB account, click “Register” at the top left of the page, fill out all required information, and Submit. You can then login to your NCBTMB account.

To access applications once logged in, click on “Initial Applications” from the Quick Links portion of your dashboard.

Students graduating from NCBTMB Assigned School Codes have access to a streamlined application process for Board Certification as the school is previously reviewed.

Students graduating from a school without an NCBTMB Assigned School Code may be able to complete the NCBTMB Portfolio Review Process. To find out if you or your students may be eligible, call us at 1-800-296-0664 or email us at info@ncbtmb.org. We’ll help you figure out if there is an alternative route to Board Certification for you.

To become an NCBTMB Assigned School and receive an Assigned School Code, you must meet our minimum 500-hour curriculum requirements in Western based massage therapy education.

Non-Accredited Schools: All 500 hours of core curriculum must be live, in class with an instructor present. NCBTMB no longer accepts online learning in core curriculum for Non-Accredited programs.

Accredited Schools: NCBTMB will accept a portion of classes via Learning Management System (LMS). Click here for more information.

Our 500-hour curriculum requirements:

  • 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

In recognition of the lengthy accreditation process undertaken by Accredited schools, Accredited and Non-Accredited schools are asked to submit different materials.

Please Note: All education submitted on the Assigned School Application must meet NCBTMB’s acceptable course content guidelines. In addition, all course content and curriculum must be acceptable within the state the school is located. Applications will be rejected if they list information that NCBTMB does not accept no matter the length of the program.

An Assigned School Code is a six-digit reference number assigned to a school by NCBTMB. To obtain an assigned school code, the primary contact person for the school must:

  • Create account with NCBTMB at www.ncbtmb.org
  • Once logged in, click “Initial Applications” from the Quick Links menu
  • Complete and submit the “Assigned School Initial Application” form

Please be aware that there are two separate forms—one for Accredited schools and a second for Non-Accredited schools.

A student or school’s use of this code enables efficient processing of student applications by NCBTMB. A code that has been assigned to a school indicates that the school’s program meets NCBTMB’s requirements, and consequently, that its graduate’s meet NCBTMB’s eligibility requirements relating to educational background.

How to become Board Certified

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.

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

  • Graduation from a NCBTMB Assigned School*
  • Passing score on the Board Certification Exam
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Verification of current massage therapy state license
  • Agree to uphold NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics

The cost to apply for Board Certification is $250, plus a $25 background check fee (performed by NCBTMB).

*If you did not graduate from a NCBTMB Assigned School, your school is now closed, or you completed international training, you may instead apply for Board Certification via Portfolio Review. Download the Portfolio Review Handbook here.

**If submitting a transcript with transfer credits, the original transcript where credits were transferred from must be submitted as well.

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.

Board Certification in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCTMB) represents the highest attainable credential within the massage therapy and bodywork profession. Board Certification is an advanced credential separate from entry-level massage therapy state licensure.

As Board Certification is voluntary, its achievement represents the highest level of commitment to clients and to the advancement of the massage therapy and bodywork profession. Board Certificants must meet higher standards of education, possess a higher level of critical thinking skills, and pass a rigorous exam. The exam requires candidates to apply assessment skills, orthopedic knowledge, applied science skills (such as pathology, pharmacology, and more), and more to real-life scenarios in an effort to develop treatment plans that achieve positive results.

In addition, all Board Certificants must undergo a routine criminal background check upon initial application and renewal (every two years) as a means of ensuring employers and the public that they are working with a trusted and reputable professional.

All Assigned Schools who meet NCBTMB’s requirements have a code they can provide to their students, otherwise known as an Assigned School Code. You will need your Assigned School Code in order to register and sit for the Board Certification exam.  If you do not know this code, please contact your school’s administration.

How to renew my APCE Provider status

All Approved Providers are valid for a three-year period. When your three-year period is nearing its end, you will need to complete the Approved Provider Renewal Application.

As a reminder, follow the steps listed below to renew your Approved Provider status:

  • Log in to your account
  • Once logged in, click “Renewal”
  • Click the “Approved Provider Renewal Application.”
  • Complete the application and “Submit.”

You may follow your application progress from the Application History section of your account. Please keep in mind that all applications are processed in the order in which they are received. This process takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks.

 

NCBTMB reviews all approved CE provider courses. This helps to ensure that the CE courses MTs take will be within NCBTMB’s acceptable content.  Additionally, CE providers must supply their educational and practical background as well as their teaching experience.  It is also necessary for each instructor to hold a practice pilot course for at least 5 individuals, or had prior formal teaching experience.  These processes will also help to procure a highly qualified educator and overall better educational experience.

A large percentage of states have NCBTMB written in their CE rules for renewal of licenses.  Massage Therapists like to move around between states, and each state has different educational hourly requirements. So, the NCBTMB approved CE courses may also be applied towards those hourly requirements, if your foundation education needs to be bolstered to obtain licensure in another state.

Since many states do require the CE courses to be NCBTMB approved, many MTs rely on the NCBTMB website course listings to find their Approved CE Provider courses.  Also, Board Certificants must take courses approved by NCBTMB for certification renewal.

Lastly, all NCBTMB Approved CE Providers agree to uphold the NCBTMB Approved CE Provider Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.  When spending your time, money, and energy to invest in your professional development, it is wise to make that investment with someone who is also committed to go through, and maintain the processes which establish their credibility as a professional educator.

How to renew my Assigned School status

  • Login to your account
  • Click Additional Forms from the Quick Links
  • Complete the “Change in Assigned School Name, Program, Contact Person, or Address” form
    • Submit legal documentation showing the school’s name change.
  • Click Submit

 

Once awarded an Assigned School Code, the renewal requirements differ based on if your institution is Accredited or Non-Accredited:

  • Accredited schools must renew their Assigned School status every five years. There is no cost to renew.
  • Non-Accredited schools must renew their Assigned School status every two years. There is no cost to renew.

For more information on how to renew your Assigned School status, please email schooloutreach@ncbtmb.org.

  • Login to your account
  • Click Additional Forms from the Quick Links
  • Complete the “Change in Assigned School Name, Program, Contact Person, or Address” form
    • Submit legal documentation showing the school’s change of address.
  • Click Submit

How to renew my Board Certification

For renewal requirements, click here.

For renewal requirements, click here.

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

  • Login to your account at www.ncbtmb.org
  • Click “Renewal” from the Quick Links menu
  • Complete the Board Certification Renewal Form.
  • Complete background check.

Fees:

  • Renewal Application Fee: $85
  • Background Check Fee: $25

It costs $85 to renew your Board Certification every two years. There is an additional $25 background check fee (performed by NCBTMB).

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 (as defined by each state/legislation). 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 (as defined by each state/legislation) must first attend and successfully graduate from that program.

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

MTAC

The cost of the MTAC is $135, which includes the assessment and a background check (performed by NCBTMB). The background check is valid for two years, should you pursue Board Certification within that timeframe.

“MTAC” stands for Massage Therapy Assessment for Certification.

The purpose of the MTAC is to provide a personalized assessment of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses in preparation for the Board Certification Exam.

Upon completion of the MTAC, an individual is provided with a total percentage score, as well as a percentage score per category. Such a personalized breakdown empowers the individual to determine which areas to improve upon prior to attempting the Board Certification Exam. The assessment also reflects how well the individual has digested and maintained key information learned in core curriculum.

The MTAC is composed of 120 multiple-choice questions and is graded in raw score format. The tool assesses various areas reflective of both the Board Certification Exam and core curriculum, including: Massage Modalities, Techniques and Manual Forces, Applied Science (Anatomy, Physiology, Kinesiology, Pathology/Injury, and Pharmacology), Professional Communication, Professionalism and Ethics, Laws and Business Practices, Self Care, and Assessment.

For a full breakdown of the MTAC, click here.

Eligibility requirements for the MTAC are as follows:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Proof of current enrollment or graduation from an NCBTMB Assigned School
  • Pass a criminal background check (performed by NCBTMB)

The MTAC is available to eligible candidates at all Prometric nationwide testing centers. Detailed information will be provided upon review and approval of your MTAC application.

The MTAC is only available in English.

My Account

To complete applications with NCBTMB, you must first login to your NCBTMB account on www.ncbtmb.org by clicking “Login” at the top of the page.

If you do not have a NCBTMB account, click “Register” at the top left of the page, fill out all required information, and Submit. You can then login to your NCBTMB account.

To access applications once logged in, click on “Initial Applications” from the Quick Links portion of your dashboard.

All applications will expire within 30 days if left Pending. Incomplete applications (not yet submitted) expire within 30 days when using the “Save & Continue Later” option.

You will have the option to “Save & Continue Later” on most NCBTMB Forms. This function allows you to email yourself with a link to continue your application. You must be logged in to your NCBTMB account when accessing this link in the future.

Once an application has expired, applicants will have to complete a new application and add all required documentation to the new application. Expired applications are non-refundable.

The NCBTMB Directory is a free, personalized listing aimed to help promote your practice, organization, and/or school. As all Directory Listings are 100% customizable, you have complete control of what information is displayed on the NCBTMB Directory for public use.

You can access/update your Directory listing 24/7, 365. All you need to do is login to your NCBTMB account on www.ncbtmb.org

  • Login to your account at www.ncbtmb.org
  • Click on “Score Report Request” from the Quick Links menu
  • Fill out all required information
  • Make Payment
  • Click Submit

The fee per Score Report is $25.  Please note that not all states will accept the score report if not sent directly from NCBTMB.

As all Directory Listings are 100% customizable, you have complete control of what information is displayed on the NCBTMB Directory for public use.

To access/edit your Directory Listing:

  • Login to your NCBTMB account at www.ncbtmb.org
  • Choose the NCBTMB account you wish to edit (displayed as large blue tiles on your Dashboard):
    • Click on “Board Certified Therapist” to view/edit Board Certified Listing(s)
    • Click on “Approved CE Providers” to view/edit Approved Provider Listing(s)
    • Click on “Courses” to view/edit your AP Course Listing(s)
    • Click on “Assigned Schools” to view/edit your Assigned School Listing
  • Click “Edit My Free Directory Listing”
  • A new window will appear showcasing all available fields/information
  • Edit your Directory Listing as you see fit
  • When done, click “Review My Listing” to preview how your listing will look (including your updates)
  • When ready, click “Publish” to make your updates live

You can access/update your Directory listing 24/7, 365. All you need to do is login to your NCBTMB account on www.ncbtmb.org.

NCBTMB Policies

Click here to review NCBTMB’s refund policy.

 

Click here to review NCBTMB’s Criminal Conviction Policy

Click here to review NCBTMB’s Privacy Policy.

Click here for information about filing a complaint about a therapist, approved provider, or assigned school.

Online Practice Exam

Several affordable pricing options are available:

  • $29.97 for one-month subscription
  • $49.97 for three-month subscription
  • $79.97 for six-month subscription

To purchase the Online Practice Exam, click here.

Please note: The OPE is a voluntary tool. Using this tool does not guarantee a passing exam score.

Custom designed by massage therapy educators to provide students, teachers and administrators an innovative one-stop exam prep resource, the Online Practice Exam is a voluntary study tool created by NCBTMB.

Better yet, the Online Practice Exam contains Level 1 questions that will help you to prepare for any entry-level licensing examination. Level 2 questions will best prepare you for the Board Certification (BCETMB) exam.

Click here to purchase the Online Practice Exam.

Please note: Use of this tool does not guarantee a passing exam score.

Yes. Please visit https://testrun.com/NCBTMB and click “Register.” Follow the appropriate instructions to purchase your desired subscription.

Please note: The OPE is a voluntary tool. Using this tool does not guarantee a passing exam score.

The Online Practice Exam is a voluntary study tool to help you prepare for your both entry-level state licensure exam, as well as the Board Certification exam.

The Online Practice Exam was designed with students, teachers, and current practitioners in mind. Depending on your use of the Online Practice Exam, you may experience various benefits.

A few benefits of NCBTMB’s Online Practice Exam:

  • Over 2,600 practice exam questions custom designed by expert leaders throughout the massage and bodywork profession.
  • Realistic exam questions from each of the relevant exam categories.
  • Detailed, personalized reports to help you analyze your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Peace of mind and a feeling of preparedness when sitting for a licensure or NCBTMB’s Board Certification exam.

Student Benefits:

  • Gain affordable access to thousands of entry-level questions that will prepare you for any entry-level licensure examination, as well as the BCETMB.
  • Save on costs with discounted rates when your school purchases subscriptions in bulk.
  • Practice with questions that are similar to those on the actual examinations.
  • Compare scores of your last three practice exams to see how you have improved.

Instructor Benefits:

  • Get customizable testing and automated scoring.
  • Receive valuable real-time assessments of student performance.
  • See improvement on overall student performance.
  • Deep discounted savings when your school purchases subscriptions in bulk.

Click here to purchase the Online Practice Exam.

Please note: Use of this tool does not guarantee a passing exam score.

In short, it all depends on your learning style. From the day you sign up to take the NCBTMB Board Certification exam, you have three months to take the exam. That may be the perfect opportunity to purchase a three-month subscription. Ask yourself what will be best for you and make your decision based on that. There is no right or wrong time to purchase the Online Practice Exam.

Please note: The OPE is a voluntary product. Use of this product does not guarantee a passing exam score.

Need help? 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!

Specialty Certificates

A Specialty Certificate symbolizes advanced education and training in a particular modality or when working with a specific population—requirements both massage therapy leaders and healthcare organizations agree are necessary to:

  1. Further elevate the standards of massage therapy
  2. Further massage therapy’s role in integrative healthcare
  3. Provide therapists access to high-quality, advanced programs for specific modalities and populations
  4. Ensure patients receive the best possible care

The creation of NCBTMB’s Specialty Certificate Program furthers its mission of defining and advancing standards by creating yet another career pathway for massage therapists. By partnering with major healthcare organizations and academic programs across the country, Specialty Certificates empower current and future massage therapists with the top-notch education and experience necessary to succeed in various environments or when working with specific populations. NCBTMB’s Specialty Certificate Program provides the credentials to prove such training, as well as continues to tier the profession—an evolution NCBTMB is proud to be a part of with Board Certification, and now with Specialty Certificates.

Click here to learn more about the available NCBTMB Specialty Certificates.

To register for a NCBTMB Specialty Certificate Exam, you must:

  • Create an account on exam.ncbtmb.org
    • Click “Register” from the homepage (top left)
    • Fill out required personal information
    • Click Submit
  • Click “Apply”
  • Select the program of interest
  • Complete the application in its entirety
  • Submit payment & application
  • Take your exam online within 30 days of application approval

You have 30 days from the date of application approval to complete your Specialty Certificate Exam online.

Yes, an outline for the Reflexology Specialty Certificate Exam outline is available here.

Yes! Click here to download the NCBTMB Specialty Exam Study Guide for Oncology Massage.

For more information on how to achieve the Oncology Massage Specialty Certificate, please visit: https://exam.ncbtmb.org/oncology-massage

Tips/Tools for APCE's

Acceptable course content includes, but is not limited to:

  • Applications of massage and bodywork therapy for specific needs, conditions, or client populations
  • Anatomy, physiology and kinesiology
  • Research literacy
  • Client assessment protocols, skills for client record keeping, strategies for interfacing with other health care providers
  • Use of external agents such as water, heat, cold, or topicals
  • Body-centered or somatic psychology, psychophysiology, interpersonal skills – which may include communication skills, boundary functions, phenomena of transference, counter-transference and projection
  • Standards of practice, professional ethics or state laws
  • Strategies for the marketing of massage and bodywork therapy practices
  • Theory or practice of ergonomic science as applied to therapist or client
  • Hygiene, methods of infectious disease control, organization and management of the treatment environment
  • The use of massage therapy tools and their specific needs (tools may not be sold during class time and the instructor must be able to supply students with the tools during class)
  • Working with the muscles within the oral cavity for specific treatments, i.e. working on the masseter muscle in conjunction with TMJ Disorder
  • Self-care courses concentrating on nutrition and/or diet only, but only as it enhances the learner’s knowledge about the practice of massage therapy
  • Perform yoga/yoga teacher training programs (acceptable for therapist’s self-care only)*
  • Active strengthening/physical training  (acceptable for therapist’s self-care only)
  • Advanced science courses that contain content which goes beyond the massage therapist’s scope of practice (as defined by state and/or local legislation), and that is instructive in understanding different systems of the body or human behavior more in depth. Click here for more information
  • Energy work that includes “’professional therapeutic hands-on applications.”

*NCBTMB only accepts 4 CEs per renewal period in Self-Care. Self-Care is NOT a requirement.

Home study courses are defined as a course that is taken by a participant without direct communication with the instructor. These courses are distributed via website, email or U.S. Mail by the Approved Provider to the participant. Once the participant completes the material, a test must be taken and submitted back to the provider to be graded before the participant may receive a certificate. The Approved Provider must have the grading scale documented to inform participants of the grade that must be earned to pass the course.

CEs given to each participant must match the length of time it takes the average person to complete the course. NCBTMB has created minimal criteria that each home study course must pass before the course can be accepted:

  • The course content must be within NCBTMB’s acceptable content
  • The course content must be more advanced than the core curriculum guidelines
  • The course content must enhance a massage therapist’s level of knowledge
  • The course outline must fully describe the course layout
  • The number of CEs must be clearly defined and each course may not over or understate the amount of CE hours each course is worth
  • 12,000 words read equals 1 CE
  • One hour of video or audio equals 1 CE
    • Providers may give additional CEs for course work completed but the course work must be previously listed
    • Unsupervised practical assignments do not count towards CEs. Only assignments required to be turned in, which can be verified can earn CEs
  • According to several studies, the average reader reads approximately 200 words per minute.
    • Some participants may read faster or slower than the average, but home study courses may not be diluted to overstate the amount of CEs allowed for a home study course completion.
  • Approved Providers that teach courses via email or website must have contact information accessible to a participant in case technical issues arise.
  • Please indicate in the Course Outline section of the application how the course will be offered. (Ex. Content/materials are mailed, content materials are emailed, course is available online.)
  • If the content is available electronically, please upload the content with the “add content” link within the application.
    • If the course is available online, supply the website address, user name and password.
    • If the course is only available via hard-copy, mail contents to the NCBTMB address – Attention Approved Provider Dept. – New Course.
    • Materials submitted to NCBTMB will not be returned.
  • An exam must be completed by each participant with a passing score of 70 percent or higher.
    • Each exam must contain a minimum of 5 multiple-choice, questions, (containing 4 possible choices), per hour of class.
  • Certificates of Achievement are given to participants who complete a home study course

Other Key Requirements:

  • The course content must be within NCBTMB’s stated acceptable content
  • The course content must be more advanced that core curriculum guidelines
  • Learning objectives must be fully described and available to the participant
  • The number of CE hours must be clearly defined and each course may not over or understate the number of CE hours each course is worth
  • Homework does not count for CEs, and must be submitted separately as a home study course

If a Provider is using material created by other sources, he/she must follow these guidelines:

  • When creating a home study course, NCBTMB will accept no more than 30% of the material from a cited source (this includes videos)
  • Providers may use more than 30% as reference material, but the additional material may not be counted in the word count or video time
  • If a provider is using a text book, each participant must be provided a text book by the Approved Provider
  • Providers must properly cite all material that is taken from another source

Testing criteria for home study courses:

  • All home study courses must include a written exam, participants must pass, with a grade of 70% or higher, prior to receiving their certificate of achievement
  • Exams must include 5 multiple choice questions for each hour of the home study
  • 2 minutes per exam question will be accepted within the CE hours allotted for the course
  • Exam questions must be fact based to assess the participants retention of material in the home study course

Approved Providers may also work with an instructional designer to determine CE hours. Instructional designer must provide documentation of assignment of CE hours. Contact NCBTMB staff for additional information at ce@ncbtmb.org or call 1-800-296-0664.

Each state is separate and has the privilege to set its own parameters for the continuing education of their licensed professionals. Most states accept NCBTMB approved continuing education courses; however, some have created their own guidelines or limits for content they are willing to accept, along with content they require to be completed. Some have placed limits on the type (ex. home study, webinar, live) of course hours which can be accepted, and, additionally, some states have their own programs entirely.

It is for this reason NCBTMB suggests you present your courses to prospective students as NCBTMB Approved. It is best you recommend each Massage Therapist to check directly with their state to ensure the NCBTMB approved course they wish to take with you will be accepted. NCBTMB also advises that when planning to teach a course in a particular state, you check with that state directly to see if it will accept your NCBTMB approved continuing education. This way, you can offer accurate, up-to-date details to your participants, and feel confident about where you are planning classes.

Live courses are defined as courses that are taken by participants in the presence of an instructor. The instructor distributes the information to participants via lecture, video and discussions. Participants must attend 100% of the course to receive a Certificate of Completion. The instructor may wish to test students using a written exam or practical. If a test is given to participants the provider should distribute Certificates of Achievement. If the participants must sit in class for 100% of the time but no test is given, the provider should distribute Certificates of Completion.

  • The course content must be within NCBTMB’s stated acceptable content
  • The course content must be more advanced that core curriculum guidelines.
  • Learning objectives must be fully described and available to the participant.
  • The number of CE hours must be clearly defined and each course may not over or understate the number of CE hours each course is worth.

Distant Learning is defined as courses that are held in a distant location but there is direct communication during the course between the instructor and participants. Communication between the instructor and participants may be by phone, interactive webinar or website. All of the criteria for live courses is replicated in webinars.

If a webinar is recorded and offered as a home study a test must be created to and adherence to home study criteria must be followed.

Continuing education hours (CEs): Rationale for the CEs offered for a course must be based on the content presented in the course. Approved providers must provide documentation to support assignment of CE hours when courses are approved. All CEs must be clearly documented for participants prior to purchasing the course. CEs awarded must be in whole or half hour increments only.

Face to face course:

  • CEs for face to face education experiences should match the number of hours of instructions based on a 50 minute hour (meal breaks are excluded from instruction time)
  • Break times may not be missed between hours to be added to meal times or at the end of class to allow for early departure from class
  • CEs are not awarded for meal breaks or break times lasting more than 20 minutes.  Only the structured learning time is eligible to aware CEs

Home study courses:

  • Below are suggested minimal criteria that may be used for assigning CEs to home study courses:
  • 12,000 words read equals 1 CE
  • One hour of video or audio equals 1 CE
  • Providers may document additional CEs for course work beyond the word count (i.e. reflective assignments, additional reading).
  • No additional CEs may be given beyond those approved unless the course is re-submitted for approval

Approved Providers may also work with an instructional designer to determine CE hours. Instructional designer must provide documentation of assignment of CE hours. Contact NCBTMB staff for additional information at ce@ncbtmb.org.

 

Tools for Board Certification

  • Login to your account at www.ncbtmb.org
  • Click on “Score Report Request” from the Quick Links menu
  • Fill out all required information
  • Make Payment
  • Click Submit

The fee per Score Report is $25.  Please note that not all states will accept the score report if not sent directly from NCBTMB.

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 30+ 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.

To request a Duplicate Certificate, you must first login to your NCBTMB account at www.ncbtmb.org.

Once logged in:

  • Click Additional Forms (from “Quick Links” menu on left)
  • Complete the Duplicate Certificate Request Form
  • Fill out the appropriate information
  • Click Submit

There is a $15 fee per Duplicate Certificate requested.

You should receive a pass/fail score report by email from Prometric after taking the exam.  If  you require an additional official score report for yourself or another organization stating you passed your exam, please login to your NCBTMB Account and click  “Score Report Request Form” from your Dashboard. There is a $25 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.

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.

Click here for the most recent version of the Candidate Handbook.

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