A State by State Massage Therapist Licensure Guide

Massage Therapy Licensure in Georgia

Georgia massage therapists are under the jurisdiction of the Board of Massage Therapy. They are licensed on the basis of education, examination, and background screening.

Select a Georgia Massage Therapy Licensure Topic:

Massage Therapist Educational Requirements

A prospective massage therapist must complete a recognized 500 hour program. In-state programs are subject to state mandates (http://rules.sos.state.ga.us/cgi-bin/page.cgi). Each must have a school provider code from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and an unencumbered authorization code from the Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission (NPEC).

Georgia programs include at least 440 hours of instruction, excluding supervised clinical practice. A 500 hour program will have 50 to 60 hours of supervised clinical experience; a longer program could include much more. The 500 hours are to be divided in the following manner:

Anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology are together to comprise at least 125 hours.

Theory, technique, and practice are to comprise at least 200 hours. This content-area is to include specific Board-mandated techniques, including effleurage, petrissage, compression, superficial warming techniques, direct pressure, and stretching.

Pathology is to comprise 40 hours. Ethics and business management are together to comprise at least ten; of these, at least six should be ethics.

The remaining 125 hours are to address other topics identified by the Board, including benefits and contraindications, client data collection and documentation, therapeutic relationships, and universal precautions.

Curriculum is described in detail in 345-8-.01 of state rules and regulations (http://rules.sos.state.ga.us/docs/345/8/01.pdf).

The Board has provided a list of programs that are recognized within Georgia (http://sos.ga.gov/PLB/acrobat/Forms/50%20Reference%20-%20Recognized%20Educational%20Programs%20in%20Georgia.pdf).

Out-of-state programs must meet standards that are, at the minimum, substantially equivalent to those of Georgia programs (http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing/plb/33/faq). The licensing agency has cautioned that not all programs will be accepted.

Examination Requirements

Candidates must pass licensing examinations. Georgia has approved multiple examinations developed by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). However, some of the approved examinations are no longer offered.

The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) is currently available and in widespread usage. It was developed by the FSMTB to assess entry-level professional skills. A candidate bulletin is available on the FSMTB website (https://fsmtb.org/content/?id=58). A candidate must read the information before registering. Registration may be submitted online. Once approved, the candidate will contact Pearson VUE about scheduling an examination. Examinations are delivered via computer on an ongoing basis at testing sites around the nation.

Three examinations that were offered by the NCBTMB in the recent past are also referenced in application materials.

  • National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM)
  • National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB)
  • National Examination for State Licensure (NESL)

The NCETM and NCETMB were offered until February of 2015, at which point the NCBTMB transitioned fully to a new certification examination. The examination is not designed to assess entry-level skills for licensure but instead to be one component of a Board Certification process.

Georgia massage therapy rules state that the Board has the authority to accept other examinations deemed equivalent (http://rules.sos.state.ga.us/docs/345/3/02.pdf).

Out-of-State Massage Therapists

Out-of-state licensees may be endorsed into Georgia if the state has similar or higher standards. Any massage therapist who was “grandfathered’ into licensure in the other state, however, will be required to meet Georgia requirements.

Massage therapists will need to provide official verification from state(s) of licensure. The Board cannot accept a copy of the license in lieu of a verification form.

Out-of-state licensees may be issued provisional permits; the permit holder will need to work under supervision until full licensure is granted (http://rules.sos.state.ga.us/docs/345/3/01.pdf).

International Massage Therapist Applicants

Internationally educated massage therapists are to have credential evaluations performed by International Consultants of Delaware, Inc. (ICD). The evaluation must include a certified English translation of the transcript (http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing/plb/33/faq). Individuals needing credential evaluation can contact ICD at (215) 222-8454.

Criminal Background Check

Georgia requires fingerprint-based criminal background checks, to be carried out by the Georgia Crime Information Center and the FBI. The official vendor is Cogent Systems. Candidates will begin the process by registering with Cogent; this can be done online (https://www.ga.cogentid.com/index.htm). Currently, the fingerprinting process must be carried out in Georgia. Individuals can click on their region of the state to find fingerprinting locations (https://www.ga.cogentid.com/GA_regions_html/GA_Regions_Main.htm).

Background check results are typically available within 48 hours of fingerprinting (https://www.ga.cogentid.com/GA_DOCS_html/GA2_Intro_GAPS.htm). Applicants will find ORI number and detailed instructions in the forms section of the Board website.

The Application Process

Application forms may be downloaded from the Board website (http://sos.ga.gov/cgi-bin/plbforms.asp?board=50). The applicant will note on the application whether he or she has passed one of the approved examinations or is a new graduate who plans to test. The Board will require official examination results.

The applicant is to present one transcript demonstrating completion of a program; it may include transfer credit from other schools. The official transcript may be included in a sealed envelope or sent directly to the Board by the issuing institution. The Board cannot accept a diploma or certificate in place of the required transcript.

Applicants will need to verify citizenship or lawful presence. The application form must be notarized.

The application is to be accompanied by a $125 fee. This is nonrefundable. Individuals are asked to read Board rules and relevant state law prior to application.

Applicants should allow up to 25 business days for processing of standard applications. If the Board requires additional information, the timeline may be extended.

Application status can be monitored online. New licensees can also go online to confirm status and print a copy of the credential.

Additional Information

The Georgia Board of Massage Therapy (www.sos.ga.gov/plb/massage) can be reached at (478) 207-2440.

The state’s professional organization is the Georgia Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (http://amtaga.org/).