Board Certification FAQs

How to become Board Certified

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 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.

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 cost to become Board Certified is $250. An additional $25 will be required to process your criminal background check (performed by NCBTMB).

Apply for Board Certification entirely online with these simple steps:

  • Login to the NCBTMB website with your username and password
    • If this is your first time taking an NCBTMB exam, please create an account by clicking “Register” at the top of the NCBTMB homepage
  • If you do not remember your username and password, please click “Forgot Password” or email info@ncbtmb.org
  • Once logged in, click “Initial Applications” from the Quick Links menu
  • Click the “Board Certification Application”
  • Complete all necessary information, submit, and complete background check.

That’s it! Contact us at info@ncbtmb.org or by calling 1-800-296-0664 with any questions.

NCBTMB partners with Prometric, a computer-based testing solution, to administer the BCETMB exam. Prometric has multiple testing centers in each state; most centers are open 5-6 days per week.

Once you are eligible to schedule your exam, you will receive an email notification with instructions on how to search all available testing locations available (as well as the dates and times) to conveniently schedule your exam within your eligibility period. Within this email, you will be linked to Prometric’s system directly to schedule online, as well as provided with a phone number to contact them.

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.

Yes! NCBTMB is proud to offer our exclusive Online Practice Exam, which contains Level 1 (entry-level) questions to better prepare you for any licensing exam, as well as Level 2 questions to better prepare you for the Board Certification (BCETMB) exam.

The NCBTMB Online Practice Exam is the only study tool created by NCBTMB for the NCBTMB Board Certification exam.

For more information on the Online Practice exam, click here.

For a list of resources utilized to create the Board Certification Exam and the Board Certification Study Guide, click here

As a Board Certified Massage Therapist, your benefits may include:

  • Recognition by third parties and other professions, such as health care
  • Increased credibility and professional reputation among peers and the public
  • Commitment to lifelong learning through continuing education to advance your skills
  • Demonstrated higher level of knowledge and skill with the credentials to back it up
  • Increased opportunities for career advancement
  • Potential for increased earnings with access to higher-level positions

As an added benefit, NCBTMB performs a criminal background check on each of its therapists when they apply and again each time they recertify—reassuring employers and the public they are working with a reputable and trusted massage therapist.

As a member of NCBTMB, your benefits include:

  • 30+ College Credits to earn your BAS or AAS Degree
  • Free Website
  • Discounts on products through our Affiliate Program
  • And much more!

Yes! NCBTMB’s Portfolio Review process allows applicants like you to demonstrate you have the educational equivalent to the standard eligibility requirements.

Click here to view the Portfolio Review Candidate Handbook for BCETMB.

To begin, please login or register at the top of the NCBTMB website or contact us at info@ncbtmb.org.

Once you are Board Certified, please use the credential BCTMB after your name on all business cards, websites, social media accounts, etc.

It is important to know that if your certification expires, you are no longer eligible to use the BCTMB credential (Board Certification renewal is every 2 years, for renewal requirements, click here.)

You must successfully pass the NCBTMB Board Certification Exam, as well as meet the requirements, to become Board Certified.

Also, it’s important to check with your state, or any state you wish to practice in, to verify the appropriate state requirements.

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.

  • If you currently have an account with us, login to that account at www.ncbtmb.org
    • If you do not have an account, click Register at the top of the page.
  • Once logged in, click “Initial Applications” from the Quick Links menu
  • Complete the Board Certification Application.

Fees:

  • Initial Application/Exam Fee: $250
  • Background Check Fee: $25

NCBTMB will only accept transcripts with transfer credits from NCBTMB Assigned Schools. Credits listed from schools that are not currently approved by NCBTMB, or have been denied or revoked, will not be accepted by NCBTMB for any of its tests or programs.

When accepting transfer credits, the school must ensure that all courses being transferred are completely covered in the courses that are excused by the school. Transferring hours of education without verifying content will not be accepted.

A student may attempt to transfer credits from a school that is not approved by NCBTMB; however, when applying for Board Certification, the candidate will have to submit the Portfolio Review Application. NCBTMB will review all education taken.

The Board Certification exam is graded in Scale Score Format. A Scale Score of 410 is required to pass the Board Certification Exam.

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.

Board Certification was created to tier the massage therapy profession, just as you often see in other allied health and medical professions.

In 2012, NCBTMB recognized that many massage therapy professionals did not truly know the difference between entry-level licensure and certification. To rectify this problem, NCBTMB had to do two things: 1) Create a Board Certification exam, and 2) Raise its minimal requirements. These changes enable massage therapists to work towards higher certification than just entry-level licensure, as well as mirrors other allied health and medical professions—bringing credibility and validity to our profession.

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How to renew my Board Certification

How to renew my Board Certification

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.

Board Certification is the highest voluntary credential to ensure all of us, as a profession, live up to the same mission. Certification is well known and accepted throughout different medical professions—massage therapy is no different. In fact, Board Certification is now a requirement to work in many health care settings, as well as some high-end spas, across the country.

As a Board Certified massage therapist, you prove to other medical professionals (and the public!) that you have obtained higher credentials and are more than just an entry-level massage therapist. Credentials matter. You matter!

To renew your Board Certification, please login to the NCBTMB website using your username and password. If you do not remember your username and password, please email info@ncbtmb.org.

For renewal requirements, click here.

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 foundational 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. It also ensures that any course you complete with an NCBTMB AP will be accepted towards your Board 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.

With the introduction of Board Certification in 2013, NCBTMB revised its renewal cycle to every 2 years due, in large part, to feedback from Certificants and continuous research. As research leads the way to change within the massage therapy and bodywork profession, the Board felt two years was an appropriate timeframe to ensure Certificants remain up-to-date on the latest techniques, sciences, and advances in the profession. Such a change also meant a more cost-effective price point for Certificants, as well as a more realistic, attainable number of required CEs.

When submitting CE courses toward your Board Renewal, keep in mind the following:

  • All courses must be completed within your eligible two-year Renewal period
  • CE cannot be used multiple times within or across renewal periods and cannot be carried over.  (If you renew late, your CE must be dated after your late renewal approval date)
  • All courses must be through an NCBTMB Approved Provider or accredited college or university
  • The course itself must be approved by NCBTMB (the AP being approved is not enough; check with your AP to ensure the course is also approved)
  • You have the correct AP Number and/or Name to enter on your Application

If you are unsure of your eligible two-year Renewal period, or have any questions on a course, contact us.

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Tools for Board Certification

Tools for Board Certification

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.

While NCBTMB actively promotes Board Certification and those who attain it, we strongly encourage you to speak directly with your clients about the definition and the importance of Board Certification. Not only will it help to strengthen the relationships you have with your clients, but also confirms to your clients that they are receiving the safest, most advanced, and ethical care available.

If you need assistance in educating your clients, we invite you to download our user-friendly Consumer Guide by clicking here.

Together, the more we educate the general public about the value of Board Certification, the further we will together elevate the entire massage therapy and bodywork profession. Credentials matter. Let’s give them some meaning.

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.

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.

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.

Per the NCBTMB Standards of Practice (which all BCTMBs agree to uphold upon application and renewal), it states as follows:

Standard III(d): Securely retain client files for a minimum period of four (4) years from the termination of the therapeutic relationship; and

Standard III(e): Dispose of client files in a secure manner.

  • 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.

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