Board Certification FAQs

Board Certification FAQs

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.

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.

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.

**If submitting a transcript with transfer credits, submit transcripts from the original school you’ve attended.

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 websitewith 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 your payment.

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

NCBTMB partners with Pearson Vue, a computer-based testing solution, to administer the BCETMB exam. Pearson Vue 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 can search all testing locations available (as well as the dates and times) to conveniently schedule your exam within your eligibility period. Simply log in to your account on the NCBTMB website, and click “Schedule Exam” on the left-hand side of your profile page. Here, you will be redirected to Pearson Vue’s system where you can search locations, view dates and times available, and schedule your 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 four 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 Online Practice Exam, click here.

For 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 thousands of products through our Affiliate Program and Resource Center
  • 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.

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.

To download the official BCTMB seal, click here.

Not necessarily. You must successfully pass the NCBTMB Board Certification Exam, as well as meet the requirements, in order 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.

Once you become Board Certified, you will be required to renew your Board Certification every two-years.

To renew your Board Certification, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete 24 CEs from NCBTMB Approved Providers within a two-year period, including:
    • 3 hours in Ethics
    • 3 hours in Research
    • Note: No more than 4 hours will be accepted in Self-Care (Self-Care is not a requirement)
    • NCBTMB approved scientific, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and business courses are also acceptable (read more)
  • Pass a criminal background check (performed by NCBTMB)
  • Agree to uphold NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  • Agree to oppose Human Trafficking

All 24 CEs must be completed within your two-year renewal period; you may NOT carry over or apply past CEs to meet this requirement. 

Please Note: NCBTMB Approved Provider courses submitted for Board Renewal must be pre-approved. To check the approval status of an AP course for Board Renewal purposes, utilize the “Find An Approved CE Provider” app. If a course is approved, it will be listed within the app under the appropriate AP number/name. If the course is not listed, please contact us at info@ncbtmb.org or check with the AP for clarification prior to submitting the course for Board Renewal.

The cost to renew your Board Certification is $85 every two years, plus a $25 background check fee (performed by NCBTMB).

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

For more information on what you can do to complete the Research Requirement, please click here.

You are also welcome to visit The Massage Therapy Foundation website for additional details on the Research Requirement, as well as how to locate acceptable courses near you.

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. 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 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.

Board Certificants are required to earn 24 CEs from NCBTMB Approved Providers every two years to maintain their Board Certification credential, including:

  • 3 CEs in Research,
  • 3 CEs in Ethics, and
  • Note: No more than 4 CEs will be accepted in Self-Care (Self-Care is not a requirement).
  • NCBTMB approved scientific, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and business courses are also acceptable (read more)

All 24 CEs must be completed within your two-year renewal period; you may NOT carry over or apply past CEs to meet this requirement.

Please Note: NCBTMB Approved Provider courses submitted for Board Renewal must be pre-approved. To check the approval status of an AP course for Board Renewal purposes, utilize the “Find An Approved CE Provider” app. If a course is approved, it will be listed within the app under the appropriate AP number/name. If the course is not listed, please contact us at info@ncbtmb.org or check with the AP for clarification prior to submitting the course for Board Renewal.

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.

Visit www.ncbtmb.org and click “Register” from the top-left corner of the page. Fill out all required information and click “Create Account.” Once created, you may login to your account using your chosen username and password.

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.

  • 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.
    • Upload your massage therapy transcripts from an NCBTMB Assigned School.
    • Upload a government issued ID, (driver’s license, passport, state ID)
  • Make Payment
  • Click Submit

Fees:

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

NCBTMB must send all official Score Reports to state boards; you cannot send a Score Report on your own behalf.

  • 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.

All applications will expire within 90 days if left Pending. Incomplete applications (not yet submitted) expire within 30 days.

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.

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.

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.
  • Make Payment
  • Click Submit

Fees:

  • Renewal Application Fee: $85/2 years
  • Background Check Fee: $25

NOTE: Your email address registered to your NCBTMB Account is your username. Click “Forgot Password?” if you cannot recall your login information.

You should receive a pass/fail score report before leaving your testing center on the day you sit for your NCBTMB exam. If for some reason you require an additional official score report for yourself or another organization stating you passed your exam, please login to your NCBTMB Account (www.ncbtmb.org) 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.

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.

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