In NY state where I practice, you must be licensed by the NY board of education in order to practice massage therapy.  In order to become licensed, you must meet the following criteria:
  • meet education and examination requirements;
  • meet experience requirements; and
  • have completed a course in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) within three years prior to licensure.
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be of good moral character (!!!)
The education requirement is at least 1000 hours at an accredited program.  I chose the Associates Degree in Occupational Studies, completed at The Swedish Institute in Chelsea, NYC, covering a wide range of subjects such as anatomy and physiology, neurology, massage techniques and so on.
The experience requirements were met in the form of at least 150 hours on hands on experience, both with other students, and members of the public, on-site at the clinic and off-site at sports events and medical establishments.
The examination (infuriatingly offered only 2x per year) covers all the various areas of study.
Once you have graduated the program and passed the state test, you are a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT).  Once you have purchased liability insurance, you are allowed to provide massage therapy in the state of NY only.  In signing up for liability insurance, one also commits to very specific ethics and scope of practice.
Other states have different regulations and requirements.  NY is one of a few states in the USA that require so much education before licensure, if licensure is required at all.  Many states require only 500 hours.
On the other hand, Canada requires over 2000 hours, as well as advanced clinical training and testing.  As a result, massage therapy In Canada is fully integrated into the healthcare system, just as physical therapy is here in the US.
I hope in 20 years, massage can be as regularly utilized and developed as a profession throughout the USA also.  There are so many things that massage is good for, there’s a lot of room to grow.

What do you think about massage therapy and its role in your life as wellness or healthcare?  Does it matter to you that I am licensed?  If yes, why?  

Read more in my Frequently Asked Questions blog series:

Can I talk during a therapeutic massage?
Will I be in pain during a therapeutic massage?
How should I feel after a therapeutic massage?
What is chair massage?
Do I need to be naked during a therapeutic massage?
What to expect in a professional massage?
What is a scope of practice? What is yours as an LMT?
What do you learn in massage school?
What kind of massage do you do?
What kind of music do you play during a massage?
Should I give you a tip after the massage?

FAQ – What is a Licensed Massage Therapist

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