A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy License in Arizona

Arizona massage therapists are licensed by the Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy. In order to be licensed, an individual must be at least eighteen years of age and must meet Arizona's education and background check requirements. In many cases, examination will be required as well.

Select an Arizona Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:

Educational Requirements

The foundation for a massage therapy career is a high school diploma or equivalency diploma. The Board will also accept an Ability to Benefit (ABT) examination if it is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

The prospective massage therapist must complete a Board-recognized program in massage or bodywork therapy. Clinical and classroom hours must total at least 700 hours (https://massagetherapy.az.gov/statutes-and-rules/R4-15-201).

Arizona programs are Board-recognized if they are approved by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education or are housed in community colleges (https://massagetherapy.az.gov/statutes-and-rules/R4-15-204).

Out-of-state schools may be recognized if they have been accredited by agencies recognized by the Department of Education or approved by agencies comparable to the Arizona State Board for Private Post-secondary Education. The Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy reviews programs approved by other states to ensure standards are similar (https://massagetherapy.az.gov/statutes-and-rules/R4-15-204).

The Board has provided a list of recognized schools located around the nation (https://massagetherapy.az.gov/schools). If an out-of-state school is not listed as recognized, there is a chance that it will be found to meet requirements and will be added to the list. However, the school will need to submit an application.

Students should be aware that the Arizona Board makes a distinction between accredited Arizona schools and other recognized schools. An applicant from an accredited school located within Arizona may be licensed without examination. To qualify as accredited, the school must hold accreditation through some agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/32/04222.htm&Title=32&DocType=ARS).

Examination Requirements

A prospective massage therapist who graduated from any other than an accredited Arizona school will need to pass an examination. The Arizona Board will accept examinations offered by either of two organizations: the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards offers the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). It is taken for licensing purposes only – the FSMTB does not award additional credentials. An applicant will fill out an application form and submit a $195 fee. The applicant will note the name of the state where results should be sent as well as the desired examination language; the MBLEx is offered in both English and Spanish.

Applications can be downloaded from the FSMTB website (https://fsmtb.org/content/?id=114). Applicants may also opt for online application. An approved candidate will receive an ATT; he or she can then schedule an exam through Pearson VUE..

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork offers its examination as part of a Board Certification process. The organization no longer offers an exam for licensing purposes only (http://www.ncbtmb.org/about-ncbtmb).

In order to be approved to take the certification examination, an applicant must submit an application, pass a national background check, and provide identification (http://www.ncbtmb.com/certificants/new-applicant-board-certification-exam).The candidate will need to pay a $250 fee before taking the exam.

A massage therapist will not actually achieve Board Certification until such time as he or she has practiced professionally for 250 hours. Experience must be earned after graduation and must be earned legally; in most states, it must be earned under licensure.

Individuals considering Board Certification should be aware that some requirements are more stringent. Students will need to attend schools that have been evaluated and approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork; these are referred to as NCBTMB-assigned schools. A directory is available on the NCBTMB website (http://www.ncbtmb.com/tools/find-approved-school). Total education must comprise 750 hours, though applicants can also credit continuing education taken through approved providers.

The successful examinee will need to provide a transcript and evidence of CPR certification before Board Certification can be awarded.

Some applicants may have taken an NCBTMB examination in the past, as a licensing exam. Others may have taken it for National Certification; the earlier credential is being phased out.

The NCBTMB can be reached by telephone at 1-800-296-0664 or by email at ‘info at ncbtmb.org’.

Massage Therapist License Reciprocity

Qualifying out-of-state massage therapists have an additional application pathway: reciprocity. Massage therapists are eligible for reciprocity if they 1) have held licensing for at least five years in a state with substantially equivalent requirements or 2) have graduated from approved programs of 500 or more hours and hold current NCBTMB certification.

Background Check Requirements

The prospective Arizona massage therapist must submit to a criminal background check. Fingerprints may be taken at a law enforcement agency or private agency. The Board requests that they be captured on a standard applicant card. The application packet includes directions for filling out the fingerprint card.

A criminal record will not always result in denial of licensure. However, individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes within the previous five year period are barred by state statute. Recent misdemeanors will result in denial if they involve “moral turpitude” and have some bearing on massage therapy practice (http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/32/04222.htm&Title=32&DocType=ARS).

Language Proficiency Requirement

If English is not the applicant’s native language, he or she must also pass a language proficiency exam. The Board will accept the TOEFL or TOEIC (https://massagetherapy.az.gov/statutes-and-rules/R4-15-201).

The Application Process

License applications are available on the Board website (https://massagetherapy.az.gov/for-applicants).

Documentation of massage therapy education and examination is to be requested and sent to the Board directly by the school or organization.

Massage therapists applying on the basis of out-of-state licensure will instead submit license verification.

The applicant will need to attach a passport photograph to the application.

The application packet includes a statement that requires notarization.

The Board also requires documentation of citizenship or other legal status.

The $217 fee covers the initial two years of licensure. There is an additional $25 fee to have the credential issued as a wall certificate.

Applications will first be reviewed for administrative completeness (https://massagetherapy.az.gov/statutes-and-rules/R4-15-207). If the application packet is not complete, the Board will send notification. Later the application will undergo a substantive review. The Board may spend up to 120 days carrying out the two reviews. The timeframe may be longer in cases where the Board must request additional information.

Additional Information

Questions can be directed to the Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy at ‘info at massageboard.az.gov’.

The state's professional organization is the Arizona Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (http://www.azamta.org).