Never Stop Learning

Explore CE Options

By Rebecca Jones
[Ten for Today]

1. Consider online coursework

Though not all regulating boards will allow home study continuing education (CE) hours, their appeal is obvious: they don’t involve travel, they’re affordable, and they fit easily into a practitioner’s busy schedule.

“We find that some students learn so much more through home study, where they can review materials at their own pace,” says Cheryl Baisley, programming director for the Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies (, which offers more than 125 such courses. 

2. Try an online conference

The World Massage Conference ( brings together thousands of massage professionals twice a year for a virtual three-day gathering. Attendees log in for online access to workshops and a virtual trade show, where they can browse exhibitors’ “booths.”

“It’s just like watching TV,” says Eric Brown, co-founder of the conference. “It’s live, but there’s the ability to present questions to presenters, a moderator will sort through the questions and pose the interesting ones.” In all, the three-day conference offers more than 50 potential CE hours, and the workshops remain accessible online for registrants for nearly a year.

3. Utilize ABMP member options

ABMP typically offers three webinars per month from some of the most respected names in the business, says ABMP Director of Education Anne Williams. The hour-long webinars are free to watch, and members can take a quiz afterward to earn CE hours for just $12. (Nonmembers pay $35 per quiz.) In addition, there are 68 archived webinars available for viewing at any time. “That’s 68 CE hours right there on a variety of topics, as well as 10 two-hour courses,” Williams says. Visit for more information.

4. Attend conferences and trade shows in person

“Our shows are all about having fun, creating excitement,” says Scott Dartnall, co-founder of the American Massage Conference (; ABMP is the education sponsor for the event), which will be held April 20–22, 2012, in San Diego, California. “We think this is a great time to meet others, socialize with them, take classes with them, and have lunch with them,” Dartnall says.

At the American Massage Conference, entrance is $40, which includes access to more than a dozen one-hour continuing education classes—“tasters,” as Dartnall calls them.

5. Learn something over the toP

“If I were taking a continuing education class, I would search for something that would separate me from the thousands of other massage therapists out there,” says Ruthie Hardee of Denver, Colorado. “I want something with a ‘wow’ effect that will jump right off my menu of services.”

 Hardee is the founder and CEO of Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, commonly called barefoot massage, and she can teach your feet to do nearly everything your hands can do. In fact, she has a T-shirt that proclaims, “Hands are so last year.” Classes range from $199 to $595 and are offered regularly all over the country at

6. Explore new modalities

Try abdominal massage, for instance, which includes training in meditation, nutrition, relaxation, wellness, and addressing the whole person. “The massage therapists we attract are those looking for something else to bring into their practices,” says Diane MacDonald, program coordinator for Arvigo Techniques (, which teaches Maya-inspired techniques. An introductory class is $75 and a week-long advanced training is $1,700.

7. Take a business-related course

“People think the best way to get more clients is to learn a new modality, but if you’re already practicing a lot of modalities, don’t try and learn another,” Williams says. “Get the marketing training you need. Too many massage therapists reject the idea of marketing. We think of it as money grubbing, but it’s simply a way of communicating more effectively with your clients.”

8. Combine CE with travel

How about learning lomilomi in Hawaii? Or ayurveda at a retreat in India? Or Thai massage in Thailand? It’s all possible for those willing to think outside the box.

Sacred Lomi ( offers an eight-day, 48-CE hour training at a retreat center in Pahoa, Hawaii. The cost—$2,100 to $3,750, depending on accommodations—includes everything except airfare. (Family or friends cost about $1,000 more.) “It’s a chance to completely unwind, learn hula, learn about Hawaiian ways, and learn an entire modality,” says Donna Jason, founder and owner of Sacred Lomi.

Niika Quistgard organizes two-week trips to the Rasa Ayurveda Traditional Healing Centre for Women in Kerala, India, which she founded in 2007. For information about her upcoming trips, visit

The Thai Healing Alliance International ( keeps a record of upcoming approved classes in that modality, including classes at Sunshine Massage School ( in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Two-week beginner’s classes start every Monday throughout the year and cost roughly $27 for a 60-hour class.

9. Avoid common mistakes

Top of the list: Not being up-to-date regarding license-renewal requirements. “This includes not knowing how many hours are required during the renewal period, if the number of hours must be split up within the renewal period or can be completed all at once, and whether there are required topics that must be completed during the renewal,” Baisley says.

Another common pitfall: Not maintaining appropriate records. “It is imperative that one maintains this documentation in case of a future audit,” Baisley says. “Make sure that the organization you are obtaining credits from has a long-standing history so that they will be there for you if you need information regarding your history with them.”

10. Eliminate guesswork

Make sure you know exactly what your state’s regulations are. One easy way to track your state recertification requirements is on ABMP’s sister website, There, you’ll find an interactive map of the United States. Click on your state for a list of certification and recertification requirements.