We often get potential students who contact us with the same question. How do I become a massage therapist? To try and help prospective students we have written a guide on what it takes to become a licensed massage therapist as well as what you need to do to continue being one. If you would like some more information we provide personal tours with our admissions staff that fit your schedule as well as free massage classes and open houses that will provide more information on our programs and what it’s like being a massage therapist.
Enroll in a massage therapy program
Prospective students that are interested in pursuing a career in massage therapy must enroll in an accredited massage therapy program. Massage therapy programs are offered from a variety of trade schools, community colleges, and specialized massage therapy schools. The success of the student often comes down to their education, which is the foundation for any career. Regardless of school or program, the student must complete a minimum of the following in order to receive a license in the state of Pennsylvania:
- Must complete 600 hours
- Program hours consist of 175 hours of Anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and pathology, 250 hours of massage theory and practice, 25 hours of business and ethics. The remaining 150 hours may be in other coursework appropriate to massage therapy study.
At the Academy of Massage Therapy and Bodyworks we have created the ideal education program that has proven to give our students the best chance at success in their career. Our programs are flexible for students who need school/life balance by offering day and evening classes, as well as part time and full time course offerings. The program at The Academy of Massage Therapy and Bodyworks consists of:
- 260 hours of Massage Theory and Practice – 6 months, 2 five hour days per week.
- 260 hours of Anatomy and Physiology – 6 months, 2 five hour days per week.
- 32 hours of weekend instruction (2 Saturdays and 2 Sundays)
- 48 hours of clinic hours – Done on students own time at the Academy Clinic, 40 one hour clinical massages & 8 administrative hours.
Pass The MBLEx
Once you have completed your massage therapy training you are ready to take the licensing exam. Prospective massage therapists must pass an approved licensing examination. Pennsylvania has approved the MBLEx for it’s exam. The MBLEx is a two hour exam that includes 100 multiple choice questions in order to test the candidate’s knowledge of the subject matter and practical real world application. The candidate will be given a pass or fail score. If the candidate receives a failing score, the candidate will be given diagnostic information that reports good, poor, or borderline performance in each of the exam content areas.
Information on what to expect, the staff at The Academy of Massage Therapy can help students with the process if necessary.
- Register directly with the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB)
- Verify that the student has had appropriate training; transcripts are not required.
- Pay registration fee of $195
- Student has a 90 day window to take the exam
- New graduates may receive temporary practice permits that authorize them to provide services pending examination.
So you’ve graduated from massage therapy school and passed your MBLEx, congratulations by the way! You’re almost there to becoming a licensed massage therapist, however there are just a few more things you must do. Prospective massage therapists must now apply and register with the state of Pennsylvania before they can start practicing (besides your temporary permit of course). To finish the process of receiving your state license you must first do the following:
- Send in your application. Applications can be submitted online
- Pay the application fee of $65
- Transcripts are to be requested from the massage therapy school and sent directly to the Pennsylvania Board.
- The applicant will need to document current CPR certification; certification must be valid for a minimum of six months after the date of application. The Board will accept basic adult CPR.
- The applicant will need to provide a copy of a driver’s license or other valid ID. High school graduation (or equivalency) must also be documented.
- The applicant will need to provide explanation and supporting information if any of the following apply: criminal history, disciplinary history, denial of licensure, or conditions or substance dependencies that would impair practice.
- It will be necessary to obtain criminal history record checks from each state of residence from the previous five years. Criminal history records checks must be obtained with six months of application. In-state applicants may obtain their reports by visiting the Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) System online. The form can also be downloaded from the website of the Pennsylvania State Police.
- The applicant will need to confirm that he or she has read the massage therapy act and rules.
- The application carries a $65 fee. The temporary permit, if required, is an additional $65.
- The initial review is typically carried out within ten to fifteen working days. The licensing agency sends out notification of incomplete files within eight weeks. All supporting documentation must be turned in within six months of application. Otherwise it will be necessary to reapply and submit another application fee.
You are now officially a licensed massage therapist in the state of Pennsylvania! Now you can enjoy an exciting and rewarding career, be your own boss, open your own business, or travel the world working at lavish resorts. There are so many opportunities available to massage therapists in both public and private companies in a wide variety of industries including health care, beauty, education, and athletics.
Now that you have your license you will need to stay in good standing with the state but if you are the type of person who naturally is looking to continue their education and learn new techniques then this will come easy. State licensing requires massage therapists to continue their education, however massage schools such as The Academy of Massage Therapy offers continuing education courses including deep tissue, bamboo fusion, thai massage, and Forearm Fusion to therapists that are accredited, counting towards state requirements. For Pennsylvania therapists you can find more information on the license renewal requirements and process below.
- 24 CE credits every two years, renews on January 31st of every odd year
- 16 hours must be direct contact or “hands on” courses, remaining 8 hours may be contact or non contact
- License renewal fee is $75 for 2 years
- Adult CPR courses must be taken for renewal, courses do not count towards CE requirements and cannot be taken online
- Therapists must also complete 2 hours of child abuse recognition and reporting