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Common Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Board Certification in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCTMB) represents the highest attainable credential within the massage therapy and bodywork profession. Board Certification is a separate credential above and beyond 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 are awarded a six-digit reference number, 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.
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.
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:
- Further elevate the standards of massage therapy
- Further massage therapy’s role in integrative healthcare
- Provide therapists access to high-quality, advanced programs for specific modalities and populations
- 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.