Since September 2021, ABMP has been working with a group of practitioners, educators, and regulators to draft a massage therapy compact bill that will make it easier for massage therapists to move to and from other jurisdictions.
How would it work?
The way the massage therapy compact language is written now, if you’re licensed, have 625 hours of massage therapy education, have passed a national examination, have had no disciplinary action against you, and have a clean background check, the compact will allow you to temporarily move effortlessly from one compact state to another without application forms and fees, long wait times to receive a new state license, or hiatus between practice.
The compact will go into effect once at least seven states or more approve the proposed bill language. After the compact goes into effect, a multistate licensing board will be created, and rules will be drafted. Then, massage therapists in those seven or more states will be able to obtain a multistate license and temporarily move to any of the compact states without having to inform the new state. "Temporarily" is a loose term that would allow one to move to another state while maintaining their home state license and address. If you are intending to move to another state, you would obtain your license through the current endorsement process, meeting the receiving state's requirements for licensure.
It’s worth noting that the massage therapy compact will be a slow process and could take another 18–24 months before it goes into effect—it is in its beginning stage, albeit an exciting one.
Also, states that do not license massage therapists cannot participate in the compact, even if they offer massage therapy registration or certification. As a result, California, Kansas, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wyoming cannot participate because the states do not require licensure. However, if the massage therapy compact becomes effective and any of these states adopt licensure in the future, they will have an opportunity to become a compact state.
About the proposed bill
Right now, the proposed compact bill language requires massage therapists to have at least 625 hours of education to be able to participate. The 625 hours is based on the Entry-Level Analysis Project (ELAP), which was agreed upon by the massage therapy community as the number of hours required to provide a massage therapy student a thorough education in preparation for real-life practice. This is an aspirational standard for the profession. While there are states that only require 500 hours of education, 625 hours are required by many schools in those states.
The current compact language says there will be a rulemaking process to address those who do not have 625 hours. Below are some alternatives to the 625-hour requirement:
- Not including hours in the bill—this would mean that if you are licensed in a state with no disciplinary action against your license, you would be able to participate in the compact and move from one compact state to another with an interstate compact license.
- Retain the 625-hour requirements in the bill and add language to include those who were grandfathered into licensure in their state when licensing was introduced, as well as those with 500 hours of education (which remains predominant in the country right now) in the statute rather than drafting rules for these individuals later.
How can I get involved?
ABMP has been a vocal negotiator and advocate in interstate compact meetings to support a fair massage therapy compact. The proposed compact bill language was made available in the summer of 2022. The Council of State Governments (CSG) has offered ABMP members an exclusive opportunity to attend two private Zoom sessions, during which CSG will explain the compact bill language, how an interstate compact works, and how the massage therapy compact will impact the profession. There is a recording from one of the Zoom sessions available at https://compacts.csg.org/compact-updates/massage-therapy/.
Share your thoughts Note: The deadline for feedback is August 31.
After you attend a meeting, CSG encourages ABMP members to provide feedback about the proposed compact bill—express whether you agree with the bill as it is written, address sections you believe should be amended, and suggest your recommendations for improvement. There is still an opportunity to alter the language in the bill, which is why CSG is offering public comment periods.