If you have not submitted your application, NOW is the time. If you are practicing massage therapy and you are not licensed, you are technically practicing illegally. While the board is not fully enforcing practicing without a license right now, it will be shortly. You only have until December 31, 2011 before the requirements for licensure change. Beginning January 1, 2012, an applicant will have to meet both the minimum 600 hour education requirement AND pass an exam to qualify for a license.
To obtain your license, you will need to either complete the application for Massage Therapist Licensure for Existing Practitioners or the application for Massage Therapist Licensure by Examination.
Choosing The Right Form
If you completed a massage program of at least 600 hours and passed either (1) the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) OR (2) one of the national certification exams offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), it may be easier to complete the form called “Application for Massage Therapist Licensure by Examination.”
If you have practiced massage therapy for at least one year and did not complete a massage program of at least 600 hours and pass an examination, you will choose the form called “Application for Massage Therapist Licensure for Existing Practitioners.”
You need to prove that you have been working as a massage therapist to fit the definition of “existing practitioner.” One way to demonstrate this status is showing membership in a professional association (ABMP) prior to October 9, 2010. If you were a member of ABMP on or before October 9, 2010, contact Saskia Young Dehring, our new government relations coordinator, to request a letter verifying the dates of your ABMP membership be sent to the board and ABMP will send the verification.
Don’t panic if you were not a member of ABMP on or before October 9, 2010. The application for Massage Therapist Licensure for Existing Practitioners outlines several other ways to show that you are an existing practitioner on page II.
In addition, you have to qualify for a license. One way to qualify is showing that you have been a member of a professional association for at least five years. If you are not sure how long you’ve been a member, check the active date on your ABMP membership card. If you have been an ABMP member for at least five years, contact Saskia Young Dehring to request that ABMP send the board a letter verifying that you have been a member for five years and ABMP will send the verification.
Don’t panic if you have not been a member of ABMP for at least five years. The application for Massage Therapist Licensure for Existing Practitioners outlines several other ways to qualify for the license on pages II and III.
Other required information
All applicants are required to submit the completed application, the $65 fee (make the check or money order payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania), a copy of your legal identification card, proof of high school graduation, the Certificate of Good Moral Character, an official Criminal History Record Information check, and current CPR certification.
Criminal history check
More information can be found at the Pennsylvania State Police website. If you don’t have a criminal record you can choose the first option, “Online Request,” and the result will likely be available immediately. You may print this and mail it with your application, it does not need to be sent directly from the state police.
Online CPR courses are not acceptable. Courses must be hands-on and taken through the American Heart Association, American Red Cross or an agency substantially similar which will need to be approved by the board.
If your school is closed
If your school has closed and it was state-approved and licensed in Pennsylvania, call (717) 783-8228 and they will be able to inform you which school currently holds your records.
Exempt from licensing
Professions exempt from obtaining state licensing—as long as practitioners do not practice or advertise that they practice massage therapy—include reflexology, movement education (Feldenkrais, Trager, and Body-Mind Centering), and energy work (reiki, shiatsu, Asian bodywork, polarity).
Avoid common mistakes:
- If you have changed your name because of a marriage or divorce and the name on the application is different from the name you used in school, send a copy of your marriage or divorce documentation along with your application.
- Don’t lie on the screening questions. An arrest, criminal conviction, or disciplinary action will not automatically disqualify a candidate for registration. Lying on the application will not help your cause and could be considered a violation of ABMP’s Code of Ethics.
- Don’t skip any lines on the application.
- Send all of the documentation requested in the application. It only delays your application to not be thorough.
Questions can be directed to:
State Board of Massage Therapy
P.O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649
Phone: (717) 783-7155, Email: RA-Massagetherapy@state.pa.us
Have questions or concerns? Contact our government relations director, Jean Robinson, or Saskia Young Dehring, our new government relations coordinator. We are here to help make this licensing process as easy as possible for you!