Alabama Announces Proposed Rules; Reducing Fees a Possibility

Let’s hear keyboards clicking on laptops and see thumbs moving across cell phone screens . . . it’s time to advocate and help shape the massage therapy profession in Alabama! The Alabama Board of Massage Therapy (Board) is proposing new rules that affect multiple sections, including:

  • Fee schedule: Some fees could be decreased
  • Definitions: Scope of practice, intergluteal cleft/gluteal cleft, and buttock are defined
  • Massage therapist licensure qualifications: Subject hour breakdown could be eliminated
  • Continuing education (CE): You could be audited!
  • CE provider requirements: Find out which organizations would be approved providers
  • Establishment licensure: Learn when on-site/out-call services and location license transfers are permitted
  • Massage therapy school and instructor requirements: New definitions and qualifications are explored
  • Board composition: The Board could see an increase in meeting frequency

ABMP encourages you to elevate your voice and submit comments to the Board at before September 4 to show your support of, or opposition to, the proposed rules. In this legislative web post, we dive deeper and take a closer look at the proposed rules to help you be more informed.

Fee Schedule
The proposed rules would eliminate the license verification fee and out-of-state establishment owner inspection fee. They would also amend the following fees:

  • Massage therapist initial license fee: $100 (currently $150)
  • Massage therapist license renewal fee: $100 (currently $200)
  • Establishment license initial fee: $100 (currently $150)
  • Massage therapy school initial and renewal fee: $150 (currently $250)
  • Massage therapy instructor initial and renewal fee: $100 (currently $50)
  • Duplicate license fee: $10 (currently $25)

The proposed rules clarify the scope of practice of a licensed massage therapist and create new definitions for “intergluteal cleft” and “buttock.”

Scope of practice—a licensed massage therapist (LMT) can only perform the massage and bodywork techniques for which they have been trained, as stated on their transcript from massage therapy school/program or continuing education provider certificate.

Intergluteal cleft/gluteal cleft—also known as natal cleft, butt crack, or cluneal cleft; is the groove between the buttocks that runs from just below the sacrum to the perineum, so named because it forms the visible border between the external, rounded protrusions of the gluteus maximus muscles.

Buttock—either of the two round fleshy parts that form the lower rear of the human trunk.

Massage Therapist Licensure Qualifications
The proposed rules remove the subject hour breakdown and simply state that a Board-approved program must consist of 650 hours of a supervised course of instruction.

Continuing Education
Under the proposed rules, the Board would revise continuing education (CE) requirements with the following additions:

  • Massage therapists could not repeat CE courses within four years.
  • The Board would conduct a mandatory, random audit of at least 10 percent of renewal applications to ensure CE requirements are being met.
    • If a massage therapist is selected for an audit, they would be required to send verification of their CE to the Board within 30 days, after which the Board would respond with a statement confirming compliance or non-compliance.
    • If a massage therapist is found to be non-compliant, they would have one month to meet CE requirements—failure to meet CE requirements within one month could result in disciplinary action.

CE Provider Requirements
The Board also intends to streamline the continuing education provider approval process. Instead of detailing the application process, the proposed rules would simply require CE providers be approved by one of the following organizations:

  • American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)
  • Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP)
  • Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB)
  • National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB)
  • Any other state, national, or international professional organization

Establishment Licensure
The proposed rules intend to clarify on-site or out-call massage therapy. A licensed owner, employee, or contractor would be allowed to perform on-site or out-call massage therapy so long as the client is aware the massage therapist owns, is employed by, or is contracted by a licensed establishment.

The proposed rules would also create a process for a massage therapy establishment owner to petition the Board for a location transfer under certain “hardship circumstances.” This would be exclusively for an existing establishment license and would not require a new application and license fee. However, a $50 administrative fee must be paid, and documentation of the circumstance would be required.

Massage Therapy School and Instructor Requirements
The proposed rules would add the school- and curriculum-related definitions listed below.

Course of student—all coursework required to complete a massage therapy program at a Board-approved massage therapy school that meets or exceeds the subject area requirements.

Subject of course of student—a specific area of focus comprised of a portion of a course of student. A subject may span multiple courses offered as part of the course of study.

Class—a series of lessons and lectures required in the subject area(s) offered as part of the course of study.

Classroom hour—the number of hours lectured per course. A classroom hour should be limited to a minimum of 50 minutes of any one clock hour during which a student participates in a course or series of courses offered by a Board-approved massage therapy school in the presence of a faculty member.

Hybrid learning—education in which face-to-face classroom experience is combined with, or replaced by, an online experience that includes synchronous and asynchronous interactions with students and instructors, and lessons and assessments that can be completed digitally or in person.

Online learning—instruction that is delivered electronically through various multimedia and internet platforms and applications. It is used interchangeably with other terms, such as web-based learning, distance learning, e-learning, computer-assisted instructions, and internet-based learning.

Instruction hour—no less than 50 minutes of a clock hour in which a student participates in a class offered by an approved course of study. Instruction hours may include classes where the delivery is in person, hybrid, or online. Any coursework considered “hands-on” course of student, including massage lab, clinical practicum, massage events off campus, field trips, or a guest speaker, must be attended by students in person.

Graduate—a student who has completed a course of student at a Board-approved massage therapy school.

Certification—an official document attesting to a status or level of achievement. A student who graduates from a Bord-approved massage therapy program will gain an industry-recognized certification. See page 4 for an example of a certification, course requirements, and respective clock hours.

The rules would also expand upon the requirements for a massage therapy instructor license. Qualifications would include:

  • Massage therapy training
  • At least three years of massage therapy experience, supported by management in their professional development and teaching skills
  • Academic study, such as anatomy, physiology, business, and related sciences taught by a non-massage therapist professional that has experience in their respective field of study

Board Composition
The proposed rules would update the Board’s meeting schedule to quarterly, instead of biannually.