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Massage Therapist Certification

The process of becoming a massage therapist includes both education and licensing. The most common requirements include graduation from an accredited massage school, as well as passing a state certification or licensing exam. These standards govern the practice of massage therapy and assure consistent adherence to a defined scope of practice.

In the United States, requirements to legally practice massage vary widely. Many state boards of education have their own licensing exam. In lieu of creating their own test, some states partner with other organizations that have developed massage therapist certification exams.

Both the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) and the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) provide exams that are accepted in many states across the nation. And finally, there are also a few areas within this country without any educational or licensing requirements to practice massage therapy.

Certification Requirements

Where certification or licensing is necessary, there are also regulations surrounding the number of educational hours needed to take the required exam. This number varies from state to state, ranging from 300 to 1000 hours.

In states which have regulations, schools offer curriculum that adheres to these educational requirements. Massage therapist certification in New York is one of the most rigorous, requiring students to graduate from a school which provides a curriculum of 1000 educational hours.

Within those 1000 hours of education, students at Finger Lakes School of Massage (FLSM) receive instruction in many modalities that build upon each other, deepening skill and understanding:

1. Swedish Massage
2. Kinesthetic Awareness through Movement
3. Energy Palpation
4. Shiatsu I and II
5. Connective Tissue Therapy
6. Neuromuscular Therapy
7. Medical Massage
8. Sports Massage
9. Essential Oils for Massage Therapists (Aromatherapy)
10. Hydrotherapy
11. Professional Communication Skills
12. Business for Massage Therapists
13. Massage for Specific Populations, including Infants, Pregnant Mothers, and the Elderly
14. New York State Massage Therapy Law

FLSM also specializes in incorporating comfortable, practical body mechanics into each modality, supporting students to establish postural patterns that will serve them well over many years of practice.

Completion of Finger Lakes School of Massage programs prepares students to take both the state licensing and National Certification (NCBTMB) exams. Part of that preparation includes thorough curriculum review, instruction in test-taking skills and assistance in the exam application process.

Maintaining Certification and Licensing: Continuing Education

To maintain certification, most states require annual continuing education (CE). Successful completion of this additional coursework assures that therapists demonstrate ongoing competence within their scope of practice.

In the U.S., the average number of CE hours required to maintain massage licensure range from 8-12 per year. New York lands in the upper part of this range, requiring 36 CE hours over the course of 3 years, for an average of 12 hours each year.

Finger Lakes School of Massage is also an approved continuing education provider for both the New York State Board of Education and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. They offer an exciting and diverse array of CE coursework, providing the opportunity for massage therapists, as well as the general public, to expand their knowledge and further develop their skills.

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