New Jersey

On January 13, 2008, Governor Corzine signed Senate Bill 2536, sponsored by Senator Nia Gill, into law. In November, ABMP reported that Assembly Bill 4455, sponsored by Assemblyman Wilfredo Carraballo, passed out of the Assembly Regulated Professions and Independent Authorities Committee. In December, the two bills were consolidated into one bill, S2536. The bill content did not change significantly from what was reported in November. S2536 amends the current voluntary certification law by establishing a practice act that requires mandatory licensing of massage and bodywork therapists, as well as establish a Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy to replace the Massage, Bodywork, and Somatic Therapy Examining Committee currently in place under the Board of Nursing. The bill eliminates regulatory jurisdiction over “somatic therapy,” and allow licensed practitioners to treat illness, impairment, and disability, which they are forbidden to do in current law. Massage and bodywork therapists who are currently state-certified will automatically become licensed. For 360 days after the implementation (when applications become available) of S2536, a grandfathering provision will allow for existing practitioners who are not currently state certified to qualify for a license without having to go back to school or take an examination if they have been practicing: a) full-time for at least two years, or b) part-time for five years and have 200 hours formal massage or bodywork education. After the grandfathering time frame, in order to qualify for a license, practitioners will have to meet one of the following:
  1. Successful completion of a 500-hour in-class massage therapy program, or
  2. Successful completion of a written examination approved by the board.
The state licensing of massage and bodywork therapists will pre-empt local licensing of massage and bodyworkers currently required by municipalities. One state license will be required to practice anywhere in New Jersey. In addition, S2536 requires the registration of those who employ massage and bodywork therapists. Practitioners who will be considered exempt from the law, as long as services are not implied to be massage and bodywork therapy, are:
  • Practitioners who limit soft tissue manipulation to the hands, feet, and ears.
  • Practitioners who use touch, words, and directed movement to deepen awareness of existing patterns of movement in the body and the client remains clothed.
Next Steps: The governor will appoint nine people to serve on the Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy. Two board members will be consumers, one will be a member of the executive branch, and the remaining six members will be massage therapists or bodyworkers who have practiced at least five years immediately preceding their appointment. If you are interested in applying for a position on the board, please contact Jean Robinson at Important considerations for therapists: Even though the bill has passed, it could take a long time before applications for licensure are actually available. After the board is appointed by the governor, it will develop rules and regulations to implement the law. This process can take a year, or longer in some cases, to complete. There is no action for you to take right now. ABMP will keep our members informed as things progress. Please note the grandfathering time frame does not begin until implementation of the law. You will have 360 days after applications are available to apply for a license under this provision. There is no action to take at this time. The board will further clarify exempt practices in the rules and regulation process. If you are state-certified, continue to renew your certification to avoid having to re-apply when licensing goes into affect. To read the entire bill, go to: Please contact Jean Robinson directly at with questions.